5 ways to attract and retain top STEM talent


Here's How to Overcome the Challenge of Attracting and Retaining Top STEM Talent

It’s widely known today that we’re experiencing a STEM crisis with the growing talent gap.

There will be 3.5 million STEM jobs by 2025 with a projection of more than 2 million of those roles going unfilled.

Undeniably, hiring STEM talent is a challenge for many employers with multiple organizations searching for the same talent and a shortage of qualified professionals across various industries. Without proper skill sets and effective talent acquisition strategies, innovation and business priorities are delayed.

The key to successfully attracting and retaining talent is setting your organization apart from the competition. As the race for talent continues, we’ve prepared the best recruiting tips to improve your hiring process and prevent employee turnover. Check out our five tactics below:

1. Share how you’re changing the world

The STEM talent landscape is constantly evolving as technologies and innovation continues to transform our world. It has never been a more exciting time to be in the STEM sector. Even so, candidates want to work for companies that are doing the next big thing in their space.

Employers wanting to attract and retain top STEM talent should ensure their brand tells not only their story, but also how their services or products are changing the world. Identifying what your organization is doing to stay ahead of the curve is perhaps one of the best-selling points for candidates. STEM professionals want to tackle innovative, challenging problems.

“From what I’ve seen, it’s less about convenience and more about the opportunity. More so, it’s what the employer is doing to make an impact,” said Kforce Vice President of Delivery Erin Zaller. “It’s the technologies they’re working with and the goal or product that company is pushing. Job seekers are also interested in the problems that these technologies solve.

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2. Be transparent

One of the reoccurring reasons why employees leave companies is a lack of transparency.

Employee retention improves when employees feel they can trust their management and senior leadership. As such, businesses should effectively communicate and inform employees about their company’s initiatives, objectives and goals.

Strong management transparency leads to 30 percent better employee retention. 


According to Zaller, organizations should “focus on the products they’re working on and the problems they are solving, include transparency around their priorities and initiatives and show the job seeker how the technology is influencing the world.”

Doing so will allow your employees to feel connected and have a greater sense of purpose—compelling them to participate and contribute to a larger goal. To provide greater transparency, try implementing a strategy that involves internal communications tactics that drive initiatives, whether through a quarterly newsletter, firm-wide email, live webcast or more.

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3. Consider non-traditional hiring tactics

You may be a top company to work for, but competition for in-demand STEM talent is fierce. Consequently, it’s essential for employers to be proactive and creative in their hiring strategies. Hiring outside the box can be a great start.

Often, the best talent can be molded, especially among emerging professionals. Developing partnerships with universities and other institutions can help identify fresh talent, build pipelines and align curriculums with current industry demands to assist in your long-term hiring needs.

It’s no hidden secret that what we’re looking for is typically right under our noses. In this same line of thought, investing in current employees can also prove to be a great idea for attracting and retaining talent. Consider upskilling and training your existing STEM workforce for current and future skill sets required to achieve your organization’s desired outcomes.

74% of employees are ready to learn a new skill or completely retrain to keep themselves employable.


To implement upskilling within your workplace, explore creating personalized learning paths for employees. A customized learning and development plan for individual needs inspired by existing skills gaps will help you execute appropriate training that is comprehensive and strategic to your goals.

Employing eLearning platforms supported by mobile devices is another way to promote continuous learning by providing access to educational content on the go. Businesses can also offer on-the-job trainings, online courses and special training events.

4. Provide a career path

As STEM evolves, more candidates want a defined career path—a powerful retention tool in this competitive domain. Hiring managers and employers should work to provide career options for motivated employees.

If retention is a challenge for your business, keep in mind the following statistic: 78 percent of employees would stay longer at an employer if they saw a career path within their organization. In the workforce today, not having career progression for your employees can make or break your talent management strategy.

“High achieving, ambitious candidates are attracted to employers who can demonstrate a process and proven track record of development and career advancement for those who perform well,” said Kforce Talent Partner Phillip Bank. “Sharing examples of employees who have risen in the ranks and taken advantage of advancement opportunities can go a long way in hiring and retaining top talent.”

To begin implementing a career path for your employees, identify your business needs and match them with your employees’ career goals. Then, consider the installation of junior and senior positions alongside career maps that show where an employee is today, where they would like to be and what’s needed to get there.

5. Offer a comprehensive benefits package

Nearly 40 percent of employees consider the possibility of seeking employment elsewhere in the next 12 months, according to a SHRM employee benefits report. With worrisome data like this, talent retention continues to plague employers. One strategy that could prove useful is aligning benefit packages with the desires of employees.

The truth is the data—attractive benefits improve acquisition and retention. In fact, around 60 percent of people report that benefits and perks are strongly considered before accepting a job offer, according to a Glassdoor survey. Additionally, 80 percent of employees favor a competitive benefits package over a pay raise.

“Amid the current labor conditions, clients should proactively plan their human capital strategy with their Kforce representative as skilled candidates have many choices in today’s market,” said Kforce Chief Corporate Development Officer Michael Blackman.

An attractive benefits package will be the deciding factor on whether your organization becomes the employer of choice.

Close to one-quarter of organizations have already upgraded overall benefit offerings in the last 12 months.


In addition to competitive compensation, employers should consider benefits such as job flexibility, wellness programs and educational opportunities to attract and retain candidates. Newer trends in job perks also include unlimited vacation time, pet-friendly workplaces, student loan repayment, mental health support programs and no official work hours.  

Top Reasons Employees Stay

As the STEM demand continues to transform, companies will have to evolve their hiring approaches. By using the tips above and other creative strategies, businesses can successfully attract and retain the best STEM professionals the industry has to offer.

Click here to learn more innovative talent acquisition strategies for your workforce needs.

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