Ester Frey, the Vice President of Technology Staffing Services at Robert Half Technology, was a recent guest on the TechnologyAdvice Expert Interview Series to discuss her Interop Las Vegas session, Fearless Career Advancement in IT and the Myths of the Employment System.
The series explores a variety of B2B technology conversations including how to retain and attract top talents by leveraging HR Software and industry best practices.
Listen to the entire interview here.
Below are a few highlights from our conversation:
TECHNOLOGYADVICE: What was your role in Interop Las Vegas this year?
Ester Frey: This was my first year, and we hosted a leadership track workshop titled Fearless Career Advancement in IT and the Myths of the Employment System. The workshop was about how folks can be better at stating their value propositions, from an employee perspective as well as the manager perspective, and then recruiting talent. We talked a little bit about how difficult it is in today’s market to retain and attract top talent.
TA: What are the biggest pain points businesses experience when it comes to attracting top talent?
Ester: I think first of all, is just the plan demand; you know there’s more demand for technology folks and it’s hard to find great people. One of the things that I’m personally passionate about is just getting more.
I attended a panel luncheon at Interop about women and technology. And the panelists were discussing how we can get more people involved in IT that might have been insufficiently interested before, and getting folks exposure to see what those jobs can look like. So, part of it is just finding more people.
TA: The demand is so much higher right now than the supply. Once you’re able to get that talent, the second part of the challenge is how to nurture and retain them so they stay at your company. What are the big themes or trends this year for best practices to retain talent?
Ester: Yeah, we trust a little bit about helping all of our employees develop their soft skills, right? Develop their communication skills. It’s not necessarily lack of technical skills that makes an employee not work out or not be retained in the position.
It’s usually a fast skill issue, so what do we do to develop our staff to help them communicate in a project they’re working on, or help them better collaborate with co-workers. Whether that’s tools you give them or timely feedback and coaching, those are skills that managers have to have in order to help folks advance in their career.
And then, being able to share vision and provide a career path for individuals, because a lot of times employees just might not know what career path is available to them. So we make sure we’re doing a good job of talking to people about what their options are long term, and where they can go, and where they can take their career, and having their manager advocate for that process and not just manage their performance today, but help them grow long term.
TA: Let’s talk a little bit about Robert Half Technology and how that part of your company helps provide resources. It’s easy in some instances to teach something technical, but to try to get a soft skill into somebody — that’s a whole other animal, right?
Ester: It certainly is. First, we help our clients find great talent. We also help the candidates in their interview process. Sometimes people just aren’t really good at selling themselves and they need an agent or an advocate to help coach them on how to explain the value of what they bring, and the things they can do.
We give candidates access to some online training, because sometimes, if you just brush up on your skills everything else will be in line. Because, as you just mentioned, the technology is sometimes easier to train than all of the other interpersonal skills.
TA: What is your main message for attracting, retaining, and managing tech talent?
Ester: I think communication is key. Having regular touch points with your staff. When I sit down and talk to anyone about retention, it’s usually communication: meeting regularly, giving feedback on performance, and setting goals and knowing that you’re evaluating performance, and having that performance, and having those conversations early and often.
No one should ever be surprised that their performance is suffering or might not be at a certain level their managers looking for, and that typically revolves around communication. So I think that would be my biggest piece of advice.
TA: How can someone get connected to you and also learn more about Robert Half Technology?
Ester: The Robert Half Technology website would be a great place to start. We have a lot of resources for employers and job seekers, including our salary guys and salary center, where people can look at what the current market rate is for certain salaries and job descriptions. So that would be a great place to start. The best way to get in touch with me is through email at [email protected].
Listen to the entire show above in order to hear our full conversation, or download the show to listen later. You can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud, in order to get alerts about new episodes. This podcast was created and published by TechnologyAdvice. Interview conducted by Clark Buckner.