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PNW Drupal Summit Session: How to Recruit & Retain Top Talent

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This session led by Glenn Hilton of ImageX Media focused on recruiting and retaining talent (particularly developers) and building an outstanding team. Read on for some great takeaways from successful hiring processes.

Keys to Recruiting and Overcome Common Challenges

  • Look at recruiting like marketing. Build your company's brand so that you have a reputation in your industry as a leader.
  • If you have more business than you can handle and work with partner shops sharing leads, do the same thing with potential recruits.
  • Hold a happy hour or open house and invite the community to attend.
  • Recruiting agencies can be helpful, particularly for key positions in a company that can be hard to fill or if those doing the hiring don't have specialization in that area (i.e. a developer/owner looking to fill a sales position).
  • Communicate and advertise your company culture and values. Be transparent about how your company operates and show others how you do business. Be unique and interesting and embed that within your values.
  • Add a LinkedIn subscription option to your website jobs page so potential candidates can be notified when you post new openings.
  • Incentivize your team to help find new talent.

Finding the Right Fit for your Company

  • Look for community involvement. Developers show talent when they're involved in community projects, active in discussions, etc.
  • Look at quality of work and attention to detail.
  • Look for people that are resourceful and industrious. People who want to grow in their professional and personal lives will stand out. Ambition is one of the strongest character traits to look into for applicants.
  • Written and Communication skills are key. Even developers will need to be able to communicate information to clients from time to time, but more importantly, your developers need to communicate well internally.
  • Look for applicants that really want to work for your company. They follow up, they make it obvious that they know your business and have done some research or even have followed your company for some time.
  • Involve your team in the screening process. If your team that will be working with someone is excited about them and buys in on hiring them, your team will be more cohesive.

Employee Retention (Specifically Developer Retention)

  • Why people leave: It's usually not about the money. More often than not, it's about relationships and management decision-making.
  • Make sure you're listening to your team. One on ones (monthly or bi-weekly half hour blocks) can be a great way to make sure you're in touch with your team, but set expectations clearly that you DO want to hear what people have to say. Just as important as listening is then acting on what they tell you.
  • Plan time to build relationships. If you don't plan and schedule time, you won't find them time to spend, but those relationships are critical.
  • Lock up your top talent. Employees like to work with people who are smart and great at their jobs and can help others grow.
  • Deal with cancer quickly. Bad attitudes can spread across an office in a hurry.
  • Top talent needs a challenge. Keep your developers challenged, but set expectations with them that the work is not always going to be new and exciting. Maintenance projects will always exist.
  • Reward your employees: Competitive pay, incentives, public recognition, recognition within their team are all important.
  • Create a stellar workplace. Give your developers the right tools and software to make their jobs better. Have a fun, friendly atmosphere. The goal is to make sure your team wants to come to work each day and enjoys the time they spend there.
  • Invest in employee growth. Help them grow professionally, send them to conferences and events, and provide good resources.

There is no one winning solution. You can't take another company's formula and apply it to your own company and expect everything to suddenly be perfect. Experiment with your culture and embrace what's important to the people who are part of your organization.

Date posted: October 16, 2011


Hi Adam,

I was on a bike tour to the bay area and had to miss PNWDS, but I think I've read all of your session reviews and really appreciate the notes.

~ Peter

Glad you found the notes helpful!

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