As banks step up their efforts to attract top developers, fintech startups are deploying unique recruiting strategies to vie for the most-coveted technical talent.
Human resources officers at these companies, with titles like "director of culture and talent" and "vice president of people and places," try to lure young techies with the promise of a fun work culture.
Like the large software companies well known for drawing job prospects with offices equipped with ping pong tables, indoor slides and bowling alleys, financial services technology companies offer their own offbeat lures.
They host events where they serve candidates free booze and pizza. They provide dedicated music rooms. They host "Game of Thrones" theme nights. Suits, ties and cubicles all fall by the wayside.
Recent college graduates are the target of virtual banking software provider Q2, formerly known as Q2ebanking. The Austin company offers training programs, including a 90-day program that teaches coding and potentially lands a participant a full-time job once completed. "That's one way we deal with recruiting challenges," says Sherri Manning, vice president of people and places at Q2. "Our strategy is to try to get earlier in the pipeline of their careers."
To get its brand noticed by young career types, Q2 hosts events like retro arcade night. In exchange for a resume, an individual gets an invite to play retro arcade games like Pac-Man over beer and pizza while mingling with Q2 employees who introduce attendees to the possibility of a new career. "It's a good indicator of our culture," Manning says. "We are big into 'play hard, work hard.' We want to hire individuals who are creative, unique and innovative."
Through hosting two arcade nights, one with a "Game of Thrones" theme, Q2 hired about 22 people as either trainees or traditional employees.
Like Q2, MoneyDesktop, a personal financial management (PFM) provider based in Utah, hosts events at which it alerts attendees to open positions. One event type is the "drink up," a designated night for employees and prospects to hang out at local breweries and get acquainted in a relaxed atmosphere.
The gatherings, which offer a glimpse into the company's culture, underscore how the workplace continues to evolve into a place that demands a company interest a prospect in its brand.
But that's just one way young companies are battling for talent.
Among other tactics, software companies promote perks such as the opportunity to grow with the business (assuming it does), an equity stake, and environmental perks such as lax clothing requirements (in some cases, suits discouraged and pants optional), relaxation rooms, beer kegs and a central location.
Surprisingly, technology companies also sometimes highlight the technical challenges of the jobs they offer — even in their advertisements.
To draw in developers, MoneyDesktop uses billboard campaigns that display coding problems to solve. "It's a great way to brand outside the office," says KC Jorgensen, director of culture and talent at MoneyDesktop. "The billboards are a call to action and we get responses from them."
Engineers who first heard of the company through its billboards are now part of the PFM software team.
As technology companies experiment with fresher ways to expose technologists to their brands, some businesses are finding that old-school techniques still work best.
"We make sure to use internal employees for referrals," says Q2's Manning. "Over 60% of hires come from referrals."
So employee satisfaction matters, especially when job candidates check GlassDoors.com, a site that features anonymous employee reviews. "All the comments say this is a fabulous place to work," Manning says. "Employee feedback is such a critical part of recruiting."
Likewise, small business online lender Kabbage has found the best recruiting results come from employee recommendations.
"Talented people know talented people," says Kathryn Petralia, co-founder and COO of the Atlanta company. "Employee referrals: it doesn't get better than this."
In Pursuit of Talent
The products and services Kabbage, MoneyDesktop and Q2 sell are widely different; however, the type of people they want to hire share similar traits: passionate, entrepreneurial, quick learners, able to solve problems, and arguably most important, a close fit with their brands' values.
"Culture is really big," says Petralia. "Our culture is very entrepreneurial. We need people who don't need to be told what to do."
Potential MoneyDesktop hires get asked about their offbeat passions to uncover what they'll do for something they allegedly love. "Passion is one of the biggest things," says Jorgensen. "We are all very passionate about what we do."