Acquiring technical talent


Say you have the perfect team; aligned to your organizational purpose, empowered, autonomous, collaborative, engaged, responsive. I imagine you would be pretty happy with that? Congratulations, you should be, but there is something missing from this formula. Skills & talent. To successfully meet your goals, your team needs to be made up of talented people with the right skills.

It’s not just the forces of digital disruption we need to worry about, alongside that we are in the midst of an ever growing technical skills gap.

In this climate, attracting and retaining talented and skilled people is crucial to your success.


How do I acquire tech skills & talent?

There are two obvious ways to acquire skills: investing in training, and recruiting from the job market.

Acquiring talent is a little harder as talent cannot be taught, so your need for talent has to be filled by recruiting, hence we’ll focus on recruiting for now. ….don’t forget about training though, we will come back to that in a future chapter.

When recruiting it’s important to first define and document what skills & talents you need.

What is the difference between skills and talent?

Let’s start by looking at what talent is:

  • an inherent or natural ability to do something
  • cannot be taught

Compare that with skills:

  • specific things you have learnt how to do
  • can be acquired by anyone through training and practice

We can loosely apply our purpose, principles, product model again here too. Talent provides you with purpose and skills provide the principles needed to output the desired product.

What do talented techs want in an employer?

This is a short list of some of the things tech talent value in employers. It starts off with the obvious, but you may be surprised by some others.

  • reward/money (#1)
  • flexibility in work practices and schedules
  • development opportunities
  • purpose
  • recognition

Some employers have adopted the four day work week in a bid to attract top tech talent. It could certainly give you an edge over many desirable employers such as Google or Microsoft. Experiments with the four day work week support the idea that this leads to more productive and engaged people.

insights & further reading

There is a growing technical skills gap. In Australia it has been estimated that there will be a need for 200,000 additional tech staff over the next 5 years if Australia is to become a digital leader.1

A 2017 survey found that 72% of technology professionals would take a pay cut and 75% would take a step down in seniority for their ideal job2


Skills are important, and you can probably easily write down a long list of what skills you need today, but we can’t forget about those forces of digital disruption, and their existence means it’s impossible to predict what skills you will need tomorrow.

  • recruit for talent above all, specifically look for:
    • proven talent to adapt
    • proven talent to learn
    • broad experience
  • recruit for skills
    • skills don’t necessarily need to be an exact match as they can be taught
    • skills should be in the same sphere as your requirements

Attract talent by:

  • offering what candidates want
    • good rewards
    • flexible work arrangements
    • purpose driven tasks
  • engaging with candidate networks
    • local tech scenes, hackathons etc
    • open source communities
  • using tech-savvy recruiters
    • reassuring candidates your organization knows it’s own technology
  • consider your organization’s ability to adopt shorter worker hours

Standardize and write thorough job descriptions that include:

  • your shared vision
  • your ideal candidate profile
  • collaborators
  • goals for the role
  • opportunities for development

Standardize and document your recruitment processes including:

  • resume review processes & scoring
  • interview questions & scoring designed to identify:
    • demonstrated application of principles
    • demonstrated ability to adapt & learn
    • demonstrated knowledge in the skills you need
  • interview techniques & prompts
    • coach your interviewers

Our methods & tools section includes everything you need to adopt these recommendations, including templates and sample job descriptions and can be further customized based on your specific requirements.

methods & tools

Contact us to discuss your requirements and access this practical content.