Technological advances have fundamentally changed our economy. From the world’s largest retailers to the corner coffee shop, every business can be considered a technology company. As a result, the demand for skilled technology talent nationwide has intensified.

In the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region, our robust workforce has long been our greatest asset. Success, however, has brought an unexpected consequence with the demand for technology talent far outpacing supply.

Given this reality, more than 100 business executives and hiring professionals gathered at our Seeking Tech Talent event in February. Working together, we showed that even competitors have a common interest in closing near-term talent gaps, including by raising the profile of the region. Success requires coming together, united by our love for the place we call home, to better communicate the benefits of living and working in our region.

Make It. MSP. is focused on building the infrastructure to unite community and business leaders making this a better place to live and work. That includes technology leaders working alongside employers, students, educators, local leaders and many others. The Seeking Tech Talent event was another big step in that journey.

Supporting, Testing and Scaling Fresh Ideas

A “business as usual” approach to talent attraction is not enough. New ideas are needed.

Fortunately, we’re not starting from scratch. Visionary local leaders have established a solid foundation. By leveraging existing ideas and relationships we’re motivated to scale great efforts already making an impact. One example is to expand the reach of the hugely successful Twin Cities Startup Week.

Their momentum combined with key indicators from our research, led to new collaboration. Tech professionals throughout the country told us how important the strength of this startup ecosystem is no matter where they plan to go to work, but most aren’t aware of our momentum.

So we supported an expansion of the TCSW Fly-In Program to technology professionals from around the country. After experiencing the best of the local tech scene along with all of the other great amenities our region has to offer, some have accepted job offers and moved here.

During the Seeking Tech Talent event, Nels Pederson, co-founder and director of Twin Cities Startup Week, along with Dalton Scott, President of Young Professionals of Minneapolis, gathered ideas on how we might scale the program in the year ahead. A healthy talent attraction strategy needs more ideas like the TCSW Fly-In Program to better tell the story of the startup scene here on a national level.

Building a National Community

Today we’re not always on the short list of metro areas being considered by tech professionals. People know very little about our region, especially as it relates to technology.
To confront this challenge, Make It. MSP is in a unique position to help partners tell our story, whether on their own through tools like DocuMNtary or together in the form of direct outreach.

Through Make It. MSP., Fortune 500 employers like Target and Best Buy partnered with fast-growing tech companies like SPS Commerce and GovDelivery to understand the market. We sat down with dozens of local tech leaders from young founders to seasoned professionals who have lived and worked all over the world. They shared what makes this place great.

Over the last few months we’ve been sharing their stories with key audiences in target markets across the U.S. We’re learning what people want to know. And tech professionals are learning what we have to offer. Most importantly, we’re starting conversations with people all over the world, including some who we’ll see at this year’s Startup Week.

Moving Beyond a One-Size-Fits-All Approach

As the competition for highly-skilled tech talent increases, employers must be more intentional in describing the benefits of living in a community and working in a broader professional environment in addition to sharing their own organization’s value proposition. We want to help.

We know a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. For example, the motivating factors for a 39-year-old mother of three children, seeking a Sr. Director or VP Level position are quite different than those of a 25-year-old Jr. Developer. One of our goals is to provide employers with useful tools to better communicate the benefits of living and working in our region.

To share what we’re learning, we’re crafting a report that begins to identify the most effective messages in key audiences. We’re calling it the Technology Talent Attraction Workbook. We intend to release new versions of the workbook on a periodic basis featuring additional and up-to-date messages along with expert insight and examples on how MSP employers, recruiters and human resources leaders are using it to guide their tech talent attraction plans.

If you would like to receive future versions of the guide or if you have questions, comments, requests for information or feedback of any kind, we would love to hear from you. You can email me at dlinstro@gmail.com. We hope that events like Seeking Tech Talent and the resulting work will help drive change and increase others’ motivations to innovate and collaborate.

Dan Linstroth
is the Tech Team Coordinator & Minnovation Society Director at Make IT. MSP, along with being a small business owner. Make It. MSP is focused on building the infrastructure to unite community and business leaders making this a better place to live and work. Follow him on Twitter at @DanLinstroth

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