How Big Companies Recruit and Hire for IT Skills
By: Larry West, PayScale.com
Tech-industry employees are among the best paid, most highly skilled and most sought-after workers anywhere. But employers are finding that it takes more than money to recruit and retain the best of the best.
“Paying for top talent is important, but it isn’t the only variable,” says Stacey Carroll, principal consultant at Payscale.com, which provides both workers and employers with in-depth salary and career information. “After all, if it was simply about money, then every company would just write bigger checks.”
There’s no magic app for attracting top talent and ensuring employee satisfaction, yet a few leading technology companies have succeeded in creating a winning combination of salary, benefits, work environment and company culture. This recipe for success makes them a target for job seekers and keeps their workers happy and productive, according to a new report from PayScale.com.
The “Top Tech Employer Comparison” report ranks more than 20 leading tech-industry employers, from long-established companies like Microsoft to newer companies like Facebook, on issues such as employee compensation, demographics, benefits and perks, job flexibility, work stress, job satisfaction, and the level of meaning that employees find in their work.
Who Are Tech Companies Hiring?
Based on the reports' findings, tech-industry employees tend to be well-educated:
- The majority (55 percent) have at least a bachelor’s degree.
- 15 percent have only associate degrees
- 6 percent have MBAs
- 14 percent have other types of master’s degrees
- 3 percent have PhDs
Leading the list of tech-industry hires are graduates of universities known for their outstanding technology programs, schools such as Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The most common majors among students who land jobs with technology companies include:
- Computer engineering
- Software engineering
- Supply chain management
- Finance and marketing
Tech Remains a Man’s World
The report's findings show that the tech industry is still a man’s world to a large extent. At all but one of the companies studied, male employees significantly outnumber female employees.
At more than half of those companies, men account for at least three-quarters of the workforce. That includes longtime tech-industry leaders such as Microsoft (79 percent male/21 percent female) and Intel (82/18) as well as younger companies such as Google (74/26) and Facebook (79/21). Most tech employees are also relatively young, ranging from a median age of 26 at Facebook to a median age of 39 at Hewlett-Packard.
How Do Tech Employees Rate Salary and Benefits Versus Job Meaning and Flexibility?
According to Carroll, today’s tech employees, especially younger Gen Y employees, are looking for jobs that provide meaningful work, along with workplace flexibility and good pay.
It’s a formula that companies are eager to perfect. Yet comparing employee compensation at top technology companies with other leading indicators underscores the elusive connection between paycheck size and job satisfaction.
Of the 21 companies covered by the report, for example, Facebook ranks #12 for median starting pay and #8 for median mid-career pay, but the company ranks #2 for overall job satisfaction with a score of 88 percent (the percentage of employees who report feeling “fairly satisfied” to “extremely satisfied” at work).
Compare that to Yahoo!, which pays its employees better at every stage — the company places sixth for starting pay and third for mid-career pay — yet is near the bottom of the list for job satisfaction.
The difference may have something to do with the high marks Facebook receives for job flexibility and job meaning. Facebook exceeds all other tech companies in job flexibility with a score of 94 percent (the percentage of employees who say they are able to fully determine their own schedules and time off, with or without advance notice.)
The company places second in job meaning with a score of 81 percent (based on the number of employees who answer “yes” or “very much so” to the question, “Does your job make the world a better place?”). By contrast, Yahoo! ranks #7 for job flexibility (88 percent) and #14 for job meaning (51 percent).
Achieving High Job Satisfaction Among Tech Employees
“Competing for tech talent never gets easier, nor is it a perfect mathematical equation,” Carroll says. “Instead it’s about understanding your market, knowing what your current and prospective employees are looking for, and doing your best to create the environment that attracts the right workers to your company.”
Yet companies that want to recruit IT candidates and retain highly-skilled tech workers can’t afford to overlook compensation as a key part of their strategy, according to Katie Bardaro, lead economist at Payscale.com.
“There is a vacuum right now for top tech talent, so if you can afford it then you need to provide employees with pay incentives,” she says. “This is especially true for current employees who may be wooed by competitors.”
“Make them feel valued to drive employee motivation and provide them with a reason to stay, because it will be nearly impossible to replace them in today’s tech-hungry world, where the demand for tech workers is outpacing the current supply.”