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Mark Saunders is executive vice-president and chief information officer, Sun Life Financial

Over the past decade, the Canadian technology sector has grown at an astonishing rate, quickly evolving into one of the most desirable destinations for technology investment in the world. New private and public partnerships paired with lucrative investment opportunities have prompted incubators, startups and global industry leaders to tap into the expertise of our country’s tech talent pool.

Canada is now positioned as a world leader in AI and machine learning; however, the resurgence has also presented unexpected obstacles to established Canadian businesses that have prioritized investments in digital transformation and emerging technology solutions.

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Perhaps the most pressing of these is the competition for qualified candidates.

As companies such as Google, Amazon, Shopify and Facebook have built up employee bases here by deploying additional capital to attract skilled talent, it has become increasingly difficult for established Canadian businesses to keep pace.

Here are a few approaches domestic businesses should consider when seeking people for technology-focused roles.

Present work opportunities that convey a purpose

Today, skilled candidates want more than just incentives. They are seeking jobs that can provide a sense of purpose. To inspire candidates, businesses need to define their direction early in the hiring process.

Providing a macro view for candidates – incorporating everything from business strategy to sustainability and corporate social responsibility measures – is an important part of this approach and will allow you to outline how they can help bring that vision to reality.

Giving candidates the opportunity to envision their contributions will enable them to assess if your organization is a right fit.

Inspire and empower women to pursue careers in technology

Although great strides have been made to bring more women into the tech sector, there is still a long way to go. For Canadian businesses looking to scale their roster of technology talent, empowering female candidates to pursue roles in technology should be a strategic imperative.

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One particularly effective way to accomplish this is to support external groups that seek to propel women into positions with a technology focus. Organizations such as WomenHack, which specializes in just that, can give potential candidates an open line-of-sight to opportunities, allowing them to determine if they would be suited for a technology-focused role.

Build teams with leaders who are equipped to guide candidates’ growth

Leaders in the tech sector are often required to be jack-of-all-trades, armed with technical and business acumen. These leaders can provide guidance and direction for top talent and be a mentor for candidates looking to make the next steps in their careers.

When looking to fill open management positions, mandatory requirements should include a strong ability to lead, develop and mentor talent. Ensuring that teams are equipped with leaders who understand the importance of growth and continuous learning can be key to attracting skilled candidates.

Make your organization visible in the technology scene

A surefire way to ensure that your organization is able to connect with top technology talent is to remain visible in your local technology scene and actively tell your organization’s story.

Technology conferences, networking events and hackathons are fantastic opportunities to put your organization on the radar of qualified candidates. These events are also a great opportunity to put your current teams on display and provide examples of the leading-edge work they’re doing and to show what the standout employee experience at your business looks and feels like.

Allowing potential candidates to get a sense of the people they would be working with and the kind of work they can expect to be doing, can go a long way in piquing their interest in your organization.

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With a strategic and balanced approach, established Canadian businesses can keep up in an increasingly competitive marketplace for top technology talent.

Knowing the immense value that these skilled candidates can bring to your business, ensuring that you’re prepared with a strategy that highlights your organization’s strengths will be key to bringing the best of the best into your fold.

Stay ahead in your career. We have a weekly Careers newsletter to give you guidance and tips on career management, leadership, business education and more. Sign up today.

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