How startups can attract and retain cloud talent

The three differentiators startups can highlight to maximize their chances of securing employees

cloud talent hiring
Credit: Thinkstock

Although vendor-written, this contributed piece does not promote a product or service and has been edited and approved by Network World editors.

Today, it’s rare to encounter a company that doesn’t use the cloud. According to a recent RightScale report, 93% of organizations surveyed are running applications in the cloud or experimenting with infrastructure-as-a-service, and 82% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy, up from 74% in 2015.

As cloud adoption rises, employees skilled in cloud development and management are finding themselves a hot commodity in the job market. In fact, many organizations are fighting for highly-coveted cloud computing experts to optimize cloud performance and help them better compete in their respective markets.

In the early days of cloud, startups were the only ones willing to take a chance on the technology, resulting in cloud computing experts flocking to startups. As enterprises saw the cloud model validated and began to trust it, they sought new hires to help them harness the cloud’s positive benefits, and the first place many enterprises looked for potential cloud computing recruits were those startups.

Cloud computing experts are beginning to leave the startup world for tech behemoths like MetLife, Fidelity and GE that can offer higher salaries, brand recognition, enticing benefits, elevated titles and a more stable environment. As a result, startups are struggling to retain the cloud computing talent on which they once enjoyed a virtual monopoly. They are now tasked with competing to preserve in-house talent, while simultaneously recruiting new hires to meet growth goals.

The inability to retain top talent has a measurable impact on a business of any size. Expertsestimateit can cost anywhere from 30% to 400% with the average being 150%, of an employee’s annual salary to replace them, depending on their level, experience and skill set.

To land and keep cloud talent, startups must put their best foot forward and remind employees and prospects why starting out in the startup world is a good thing for their professional development, personal job satisfaction and career path. Here are the top three differentiators startups can highlight in the next job interview to maximize their chances of securing employees with a strong cloud skill set:

* The unicorn experience: Hiring smart, creative and innovative people who are going to add value to the company is a key aspect to the success of a so called unicorn business, one that has a valuation of more than $1 billion. Having the opportunity to contribute in growing a successful business from the ground up is an extremely rewarding experience for many people, and something that cannot be replicated at a tech giant. The ability to make a direct impact on the business is often far greater at smaller companies.

* Broad tech exposure: Due to the less formal structure and more opportunity to be hands-on, tech employees in startups often wear many hats and have the opportunity to work with an array of technologies. As a result, employees gain deeper knowledge and understanding of diverse aspects of the business, and gain insight into the overarching IT strategy, rather than just one piece of it.

* Less bureaucracy, more creativity: Startups are almost always less bureaucratic than large organizations. Startup employees have the opportunity to gain a sense of ownership over their work and get the freedom to bring creative ideas to the table – instead of feeling like they always need to color within the lines.   

In this cloud-first world, it’s a race to get the best cloud experts on any given team. In order to preserve talent, it’s essential that startups be vocal about the unmatched value of joining their teams. Staying silent could cost them dearly.  

This story, "How startups can attract and retain cloud talent" was originally published by Network World.

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