Tech companies target the right talent

Apr. 22, 2013 @ 10:39 AM

Parata Systems, a Durham-based company that sells automatic pharmaceutical dispensing as well as packaging technology, hired for about 70 positions last year, which included some promotions or lateral moves, said Mindi McLendon, the company’s vice president for human resources.
This year, the company is planning to invest more heavily in its marketing and engineering organization as well as in its product management teams, she said, and is targeting software engineers, sales and other hires. She said the 400-person company is tracking to hire for at least 90 positions this year.
“At one time, Parata had a much smaller portfolio of products, and our portfolio of products has grown significantly,” she said. “We realized we needed to invest in our marketing and product management teams to be successful.”
Parata is one of the companies that’s planned to be at the Come Tech Out the Triangle Job Fair on Wednesday at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel & Convention Center. The fair is a partnership between the N.C. Technology Association, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Work in the Triangle initiative, according to a news release.
Alison Gordon, membership manager for the N.C. Technology Association, said there are technology companies participating that are looking to hire workers for a range of positions including marketing, business development and sales.
Bronto Software, based in Durham, is also one of the companies that’s on the participation list. Bronto founder and CEO Joe Colopy said the company employs a total of about 160 workers full time. He said the company had about 12 positions open on Thursday, but that number can change quickly.
The company, which develops and sells software targeted primarily to online retailers to help them create marketing campaigns using email, mobile phones or social media, is profitable and growing, Colopy said. He said Bronto tends to do most of its hiring in sales and engineering.
“Without a doubt, we’re hiring because we’re growing great as a business,” he said, adding that hiring the right people is difficult. In certain sectors, such as in engineering, he said candidates are tracked outside of school. In that sector, he said it’s a job seeker’s market if a candidate has the right skills.
Bronto is “not just hiring anybody,” he said. Company leaders can look at 100 resumes and get one hire, he said, explaining that he believes there’s “a lot of noise” in the hiring process because it’s easy for candidates to apply online. He said Bronto is looking at whether prospects are a fit with the company’s culture, as well as at their attitude and skill set.
“There’s always a lot of competition for people who are really good,” Colopy said. “The engineering market is always very tight. That market has always been extremely competitive.”
He said the company hosts its own meet-ups at its offices at Durham’s American Tobacco campus to help grow its reputation and also as a recruitment tool. Attending job fairs helps the company market itself, he said, and sometimes helps the company connect with prospects.
“In a way, it’s like sales,” Colopy said. “We have to be continuously out there. We are fortunate to be hiring, we find people in many different ways.”
At Parata, McLendon also said that for information technology and engineering positions, it can be “pretty hard” to find the right people. She said the company competes with other Research Triangle Park companies for talent. Some of Parata’s jobs also require a significant amount of travel, on top of them being niche positions and requiring a certain technical skill set, she said.
“People just assume that there are a lot of people in the market because of the economy and that it would be easier to find candidates, but I think it’s been equally as challenging to find the right hire,” she said.
McLendon said she didn’t expect the company to hire on the spot next week, but she said company officials will “react quickly” to high-quality candidates. The company doesn’t attend a lot of fairs, she said, and the overall purpose for attending the ones they do is making sure the company’s brand and name is out there.
She said it “would be awesome” if the company is able to hire a few people for some of the positions they’ve been looking for, some of which have been open for a considerable amount of time.
“We have just agreed that we aren’t going to settle,” she said. “Even if we get somebody that is super-educated and experienced and has the technical know-how, we’re also just as serious about how they behave and how they act in the work place.”
The company, founded in 2001, is growing, McLendon said. She said Parata has seen an expansion of its product line, and has also made a transition from being “very much a hardware company” to also being a software company. She said that’s part of the reason why it’s looking to invest in software engineering.
“We’re growing and…we’re doing well,” she said. “We had one of our very best years last year. We don’t expect that trend to change.”