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The difficulties tech companies, particularly in the Silicon Valley area, are having recruiting engineering talent, has been attracting lots of attention lately. For technology companies of all shapes and sizes, people are a huge asset, and that means recruiting is crucial to a company's success.

Unfortunately, recruiting the right people who are going to help your business grow and succeed can be difficult under most circumstances.

Here are five tips for winning the recruiting game... 

Rethink location, location, location

Driven by the competition for top 'talent', companies like Facebook, Google and Zynga are handing out cash and stock options like they're going out of style. That is making it hard for smaller companies in Silicon Valley to hire.

For many technology companies, being located in a tech hotbed like Silicon Valley seems to make good sense. But it's not the only option. When it comes to taxation and cost of living, for instance, the location doesn't look so great.

In fact, outside of Silicon Valley's reputation and culture, new companies and small businesses would probably do well to locate elsewhere.

The truth is that you usually don't have to locate your company in the hottest market. Other locations offer ample talent, friendlier business climates and wonderful lifestyles. Recruiting in these areas can be easier as a result. All that's required is an ability to see beyond the hype -- and the herd.

Pick the right technologies, not the sexiest technologies

The technologies you use heavily influence recruiting. Demand for Rails developers, for instance, has skyrocketed in the past several years. For obvious reasons, this has made recruiting Rails developers a challenging task for many companies.

Yet, in my humble opinion, more than a few companies have opted to build on Rails primarily because it's sexy and not because it's necessarily the best technology.

When starting a new business, technology decisions should be merit-based, and one of the considerations of a merit-based decision is the developer/engineer supply-demand dynamic in your market. If you pick sexy technologies for which demand outstrips supply, be prepared for unnecessary headache.

Understand that material comfort isn't culture

From top-of-the-line laptops to gazillion-monitor setups, many companies lavish their employees with toys and gadgets. Yes, a technology-oriented company making sure its employees have the latest tools of the trade is probably a good idea. But for smaller companies in particular, this shouldn't be a defining characteristic or the biggest selling point.

If you think material comfort is all there is to keeping employees satisfied, chances are you really haven't thought about building a true 'culture'. Culture is about more than just things; it's about organizational structure, values and lifestyle. Those are all gadget-agnostic.

Invest in employee development

Do you want to find and hire great employees? Assuming you answered 'yes', there's a simple but often overlooked approach: internal development.

If you're focused on hiring high-profile 'rockstar' engineers who have worked at just about every hot internet startup in the past decade, chances are you'll not only need to empty your wallet, but you'll be looking to fill the position again within a year or two.

There are plenty of diamonds out there and most are rough around the edges when they're first unearthed. Companies like Facebook and Google seek to acquire the finest diamonds after they've been polished.

Smart companies find diamonds they can polish, understanding that this process not only creates value, but is more likely to instill loyalty. In short, investing in employee development starts with rethinking who you're really looking to hire.

Remember that retention is recruiting

Want to make recruiting easier? Don't forget about retention. Unless you need to hire 2,000 people within 6 months, making sure that your best employees want to stick with you is one of the best recruiting strategies around.

Retention is easy in theory, but often difficult in practice because there are so many reasons people love or hate their jobs. Providing a competitive salary, stability and some form of ownership are usually important, but intangibles such as opportunity for recognition and personal development are sometimes even more important.

How do you know what's important to your employees? Ask them! Once you understand what they want and need, you can ensure that you're aligning their wants and needs with the company's.

Patricio Robles

Published 31 March, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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