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How to find undervalued tech talent

Sarah K. White | May 26, 2016
There's a hiring war among companies as the tech skills gap grows wider, but you don't need only A players to develop a strong team. Instead, consider hiring undervalued recruits, and coaching them up.

Andrew Filev, CEO of Wrike, a company that offers task and project management tools, takes a unique approach to recruiting talent. While some companies might go after the most desired talent on the market, Filev prefers to hire the undervalued players, and foster their strengths to create a well-rounded team.

"'Island of Misfit Toys' is a nickname some of our team gave themselves one day at lunch when they were reflecting on how different their career backgrounds were prior to joining Wrike. These are people who landed at Wrike either without a lot of experience, or with an abundance of experience unrelated to their current positions -- often in jobs where they lacked challenge and growth. Since starting their careers here, they've become key players on our team and many are now in roles as team leaders or program managers, and are also big cultural assets in the company," says Filev.

For Filev, recruiting undervalued workers was a necessity in the beginning, when his company was still in start-up mode, because they didn't stand a chance against companies like Facebook or Google when it came to recruiting star employees. But, he quickly found that by identifying the potential in certain candidates, he could essentially craft a custom team of employees by encouraging and fostering their biggest strengths. Filev offers five tips for determining when someone is an undervalued employee who has the potential to become a star.

Acquire passionate people

Hiring people with the right skills for the job is obviously important, but hiring someone who is passionate about the role is paramount to building a successful team. Your workers need to be excited to come into work, because that is what helps maintain engagement and fosters creativity, says Filev.

"One of our top sales reps, who is now a manager, came to us at a time when he couldn't get promoted from his entry-level role at his last company. During his interview, we found out he had this sincere passion for diving deep into customer pain and providing creative solutions in a process that was too slow for his previous employer. In that case, the consultative style that failed to advance him at his last company was a perfect fit for us," he says.

That passion doesn't even need to be career-focused, says Filev. For example, he talks about a woman in sales at his company who discovered she wasn't that enthusiastic about sales, so they tasked her with organizing the first company-wide volunteer day. It was something she was incredibly passionate about, and allowing her the flexibility to plan such an event resulted in her coming to work feeling happier, more productive and more engaged in her job.


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