Three questions and answers: How do you find and retain the best IT people?

Good IT specialists are rare. Many companies are concerned with the question of how to advertise the most attractive positions possible in the competitive job market and how to retain their own employees for as long as possible. In an interview with iX, Peyman Pouryekta, himself a trained software developer, reports on his experiences from consulting in the IT and start-up scene.


Sasha Michaelis


Peyman Pouryekta has over 17 years of experience in IT and is a trained software developer himself. He specifically advises tech start-ups and helps them, among other things, to find IT staff and keep them in the long term.

Be honest: how much do other factors weigh in the fight for the best IT professionals against a higher salary that a competitor company is willing to pay?

If the salary is in line with the market average, then additional benefits can be decisive. Employees then decide against more money but, for example, in favor of flexible working hours. After all, jobs in IT are paid much better than in other sectors anyway. However, one should not ignore the fact that there are more and more cases of burnout in IT and that is also a reason why many attach importance to other aspects, such as a better work-life balance.

And yes, when it comes to salary: yes, it is an important aspect. However, I would be very wary of candidates who only care about salary.

There’s also a trend lately that I’m implicitly observing, going from time-based work to value-based work, especially at the managerial level. So what value do I bring to the company or to the world? Many would like to be involved in this success. That’s why it’s worth thinking about new models that might suit the company and team better.

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Besides the money, how do companies manage to attract good IT people and be attractive as employers?

There are several parameters that you should take care of in order to be attractive as a company. Nowadays, many wish to be able to identify with their work and be able to realize it. That’s why companies should ask themselves: Is what we offer innovative and up-to-date? What you can use to attract IT people in particular is top equipment and technical challenges in the company.

But what I always try to push for is particularly strong teamwork. This is often neglected, especially in IT, but it is extremely important for a good working atmosphere, i.e.: Do you meet as equals in the team, with a healthy culture of debate, where everyone is heard? Does the team work according to fixed processes and methods? Is it a diverse team that I can learn different things from?

However, the following topics are often exciting, especially in management roles and key positions:

  • Can you work independently and autonomously, build a team or product, or are you used as a “modern bricklayer” to build software?
  • Is there an Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP), shares or other perks and bonuses one can get?
  • Does the management have a clear strategy and plan for the next few years?

What never works are half-baked promises, i.e. advertising flexible working hours and then setting employees to a mandatory daily stand-up at 9:30 a.m. What I’ve also observed: Companies that offer weekly “Thirsty Thursday events” where everyone gets two beers and two slices of pizza, but the wages are below the market average. You can easily buy a few beers and a bit of pizza yourself if you get a reasonable salary. This is cynical and acts as a deterrent to top talent.

The priorities of these points are of course very individual from person to person. For someone just starting out in their career, learning a lot and getting extra strong development opportunities will be more important than having big budget responsibilities.

In times of a shortage of skilled workers, does it still make economic sense to maintain your own IT department instead of outsourcing as much of it as possible? Perhaps small companies in particular cannot afford an economic competition for the best employees?

You might not like to hear that now, but: It depends. If your product or service is an IT solution, then you cannot outsource the core of your business. This is your Intellectual Property (IP). Outsourcing only works if IT is not part of the core business and is project-related, for example, and therefore does not pose a serious business risk. The importance and control over it is simply too valuable otherwise.

But what can make sense is to say, “Okay, we’re trying to outsource everything that’s not part of the core business.” This often happens with cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. Instead of reinventing the wheel here and managing it yourself, you buy it in. The choice of partner is of course important here and you have to make sure that you don’t become too dependent on yourself.

Mr. Pouryekta, thank you very much for the interview! More information on the tense situation on the IT job market is provided, among other things, by the figures from a Civey study. iX author Martin Loschwitz also deals with IT recruiting in his commentary. He demands: “Less blah blah, more money!”

In the “Three Questions and Answers” series, iX wants to get to the heart of today’s IT challenges – whether it’s the user’s point of view in front of the PC, the manager’s point of view or the everyday life of an administrator. Do you have suggestions from your daily practice or that of your users? Whose tips on which topic would you like to read in a nutshell? Then please write to us or leave a comment in the forum.

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