High-Tech Companies Face Hiring Challenge

In the race to find the best talent, high-tech companies are using any recruitment method possible

Washington area high-tech companies are holding job fairs, offering cash incentives and beefing up their college campus recruiting efforts to better meet their growing high-tech personnel demands.


CorpTech, a technology publisher that tracks more than 40,000 U.S. technology manufacturers, conducted a recent study of 346 high-tech companies in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. The survey found that more than 37 percent of those companies plan to expand their work force during the next year by an average of 19.7 percent, creating 2,046 new jobs. The top three industries recruiting are computer software companies, manufacturing equipment companies and biotechnology companies.

With such fierce competition between high-tech companies for the best and brightest engineers, programmers and managers, recruiters are trying any means possible to attract talent.

"People are paying more for talent because it's harder to find," said Bob Brudno, president of Savoy Partners, an executive search firm in Washington.

BTG Inc.'s team of five recruiters are combing the United States and the Washington area for the best talent. BTG, a systems integrator in Vienna, Va., currently has 87 openings in its systems engineering division, the company's largest division with 465 employees. BTG recently broke the 1,000 mark on employees, the largest work force ever for the 14-year-old company.

Karen Wall, BTG's director of human resources, said the company is using several different methods for recruiting systems, software, database and Internet engineers. Her team has been recruiting 50 employees per month since January, the highest rate ever for the company.

"We are targeting people that aren't even looking for jobs, just so they think about us in the future," said Wall.

According to Wall, the company uses the World Wide Web Career Builder's site to recruit. BTG also has increased its presence on college campuses, holds job fairs and advertises in newspapers. The company also offers critical hiring bonuses for current employees who recommend candidates for high-level jobs within BTG.

"You have to do all of these things these days," said Wall. "It used to be you could just advertise, but [high-tech recruiting] is such a competitive marketplace."

The company, which is moving its headquarters in March 1997 from Vienna, Va., to a larger facility in Fairfax, Va., attracts most of its employees from newspaper advertisements, but Wall said the Internet is becoming more popular.

Computer Sciences Corp., another systems integrator whose federal division is based in Falls Church, Va., is using similar recruiting tactics. They include company bonuses and 12 job fairs around the country each year. Gus Siekierka, CSC's vice president for human resources, said recruiting technical professionals has always been hard because there are more vacancies in Washington than there are quality people. CSC's Washington offices, which include the federal division and some commercial divisions of the company, have hired 600 employees since January 1996. The company currently is trying to fill 300 openings in its Washington offices.

The company posts job openings on its Web page for positions in the United States, Asia and Europe. According to Brudno, offering stock options is another means of competing for talent. "Now that Washington has the characteristics of Silicon Valley, stock options become an incentive for people to join the companies in this area."

Who's Hiring in the Netplex?

Industry Computer Software894,15086020.7

Manufacturing Equipment171,49215110.1

Biotechnology14413399.4

Computer Hardware383,7503298.8

Telecommunications 292,3461104.7

Energy related111,117423.8

Defense related141,901703.7

Source: CorpTech


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