Access to top talent has long been one of the biggest constraints for founders looking to grow and scale a tech company in B.C.
With the current shift towards a digital economy, skilled tech workers are in higher demand than ever. Tech job postings in Canada were up 30% from pre pandemic levels in early March compared to job postings in other industries, which only increased by 5%. In B.C., we saw the province add 7,400 new jobs in the category of professional, scientific and technical services in February.
As a result, competition for top talent is fierce and it can take months for tech companies to fill these vacancies, especially for senior level positions. For many founders, this means pouring resources into external recruitment agencies and offering higher salaries in hope of securing top talent.
Adjust your mindset – tech giants are not the enemy
With Microsoft announcing the addition of hundreds of new jobs to its Vancouver workforce and the upcoming arrival of Amazon’s Vancouver HQ, concern has been voiced from BC’s startups and scale ups over how they can compete with these tech giants for talent – in an already tight market. Large multinationals have significantly more resources to dedicate towards hiring and are able to offer perks such as stock options and attractive benefits packages.
However, in my experience the type of employee who is looking to work at an Amazon or Microsoft is very different from the type of employee who wants to work at a startup. Although startups and scale ups are competing within the same industry as these tech giants, they aren’t necessarily competing for the same talent pool.
Having the presence of these giants in BC could actually benefit the talent pool. Along with the international ‘clout’ that they bring to the growing tech industry in BC, these companies are likely to draw existing employees, later finding their next home with a BC company.
In reality, the recruiting struggles being felt across the tech industry are less about small businesses up against tech giants and instead due to Canada’s slow economic recovery from the pandemic.
Canada is still deep in the trenches of the pandemic compared to other countries and homegrown talent is being slower to pull the trigger on a career shift during these uncertain times. It is also prompting concerns and hesitation from foreign workers who may have previously been interested in pursuing opportunities in Canada. Given this, what can founders do to attract top talent in this competitive market?
What founders need to do
Here are some steps founders should take:
1. Be part of the hiring process
Now is the time to get involved and go into sales mode. Showcase your passion for your company and why you started it. Highlight your ‘why’ and what you hope to achieve through your business. In addition, tell applicants why you love where you live. We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world that offers the unique lifestyle of being able to easily go from the ocean to the mountains within a day. Make candidates want to live in B.C. despite the current economic climate by selling B.C.’s natural beauty and attractive lifestyle through videos developed by our tourism board.
2. Look beyond the typical job boards
Expand your job search beyond typical avenues such as Indeed, Monster and LinkedIn to sites such as Tech Ladies, Van Hack, and Techcouver. Expanding your search not only widens your pool of applicants, it also allows you to target niche groups and raise awareness from other countries that were not previously on your radar.
3. Get Involved in Your Local Community
Get involved in local community groups who are dedicated to growing B.C.’s tech ecosystem. Participate in local tech organizations such as VIATEC, the B.C. Tech Association and Vancouver Startup Week to increase your presence within the startup and scale up community.
In this environment, recruiting has to extend beyond a simple job posting – you need to spark excitement and passion from your applicants about the job and the location. This happens to also be one of the more attractive elements of working for a small to mid-sized business over a tech giant – talent has better access to a founder’s passion and leadership. Take a strong position on this, there are people out there looking for it – focus on the talent that does not just want to be one small piece of a large corporate machine.