Tech continues to be one of the most exciting sectors to work in. These days, working in technology-related roles is no longer seen as an option only for computer scientists. The mainstream implementation of many technology solutions means that people from different backgrounds, qualifications, and experiences want to feel part of something new and exciting.
Technology-related job applications are receiving more applicants than ever before. The U.S. Bureau for Labor and Statistics anticipates that between 2020 and 2030, an additional 667,000 jobs will emerge within computer and I.T. occupations.
So, with such a huge demand for jobs, how can employers ensure that there are right people are coming through to fill these positions?
The technology sector will continue to grow, and jobs will become far more competitive. As a result, new job roles may emerge and we will likely see geographical hubs emerge in specific locations where jobs revolve around tech.
For example, jobs board Indeed suggests that tech jobs are heavily populated in locations such as Washington D.C., New York, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, in the US.
With so many people vying for positions within technology firms, it may seem counter-intuitive to believe that there is a talent shortage. After all, the volume of applications is there, but perhaps not the quality.
But why is this?
Well firstly, new jobs are emerging all the time. Technology is such a fast-paced sector that candidates need to update their skills merely to tread water. It can be challenging to find the right candidates with the right skills at the right time.
Some candidates may have been highly sought-after several years ago, but if they’ve neglected to maintain their continuing professional development then they could find that they have dated skills.
Similarly, new graduates are emerging with newer skills and capabilities. Still, they may lack the business acumen and the project management expertise that can only be gleaned through years of experience.
Employment terms are also changing. Candidates want to experience more than just a great salary and a chance to work on innovative technology. They want to be able to benefit from a positive work-life balance. They want to work for a company that offers great employee benefits and provides positive working experience.
When candidates have found that holy grail, they are content to remain in position and work their way up the ranks. Therefore, recruiting strategies need to focus on targeting these passive candidates. To do this, firms need to communicate the benefits of jumping ships. Hiring managers need to focus on what they can offer candidates that other companies cannot.
Ironically, there is a talent shortage in the tech sector because many firms rely on outdated or clunky technology to facilitate their hiring processes.
Traditional recruitment focuses on specific job tasks and responsibilities. As a result, the job descriptions can feel staid and boring. They may lack the innovation and excitement you expect to receive when working for a tech giant.
The use of applicant tracking systems is useful for filtering through volumes of candidates in line with specific keyword searches, but they fail to have the nuance and understanding of those who have the potential to succeed.
Another irony is that many tech firms are so busy looking ahead to the future that their recruitment strategies are reactive, not proactive.
They wait until they have a position to fill before recruiting rather than continually hiring those top tech talents who could help them enhance their innovations. And when you are hiring reactively (perhaps to fill a staffing gap), your decisions could be led by timescales and availability rather than by choosing the right candidate.
Suppose you are finding it difficult to attract new talent. In that case, it’s possible to implement a few practical strategies to ensure that you are finding the right candidates for even the most competitive of job roles.
One of the first things you need to do is:
If you are using an external recruitment agency to find you the right talent, they need to give the correct first impression of your company.
Tech candidates are used to discussing concepts and projects in industry jargon. They need to know that the recruiter understands their skills and can interpret the qualifications and experience listed on their CVs and resumes.
If your recruitment agency fails to understand the common terminology, not only could they fail to spot potential hires, but they could inadvertently giving the impression that your company isn’t up to date with the latest technology.
When you appoint your external recruiter, you need to be confident that they understand what role you are trying to fill. For example, do they know the difference between a full-stack or a front-end developer? Are they aware of the skills that are needed for each and how they differ?
Similarly, do they know what tech candidates are looking for from their employment? Do they know how to ‘sell’ the job effectively to the candidate to encourage them to apply?
Are they showcasing the best of what you can offer? While you do need to focus heavily on your tasks and responsibilities, you also need to explain more about how you support your candidates.
You want to demonstrate how you reward success and recognize individual contributions. Where possible, try to focus on the ‘must haves’ rather than the ‘nice to haves’ – especially if you are trying to attract a more diverse workforce.
It has been proven that women will only apply for roles if they meet 100% of the criteria, so think carefully about whether your job advert is inadvertently narrowing your candidate pool.
The technical community is very tight-knit; developers, coders, engineers, and computer scientists tend to know one another. As we mentioned earlier, tech jobs tend to be based around specific geographical areas, so it’s easy to build relationships and friendships with those working in the same sector. As a recruiter, you need to tap into these communities.
It would help if you were taking advantage of networking groups, meet-ups, technical seminars and conferences, and other events that would give you the chance to meet potential candidates.
You could also look at online forums and communities to build relationships with the next generation of tech talent.
This is the start of a proactive hiring strategy – by getting to know the candidates in your local area, you can potentially build jobs around specific people and focus on headhunting the best talent.
Interestingly, research from Stack Overflow questioned over 90,000 developers from around the world. They discovered that only 15% of developers were actively looking for a new job, yet almost 60% would be interested in learning more about opportunities. Therefore, recruiters must switch to a proactive recruitment strategy to reach the top tech talent.
If the volume of applications isn’t a problem, you should focus your attention on utilizing a series of challenging skills tests to ensure that you are hiring the right people with the right skills.
Employers throughout Europe are increasingly using coding tests to check their candidates’ capabilities, which is proving to be effective for both the employer and the candidate. Many tech candidates may welcome a coding test to prove their skills rather than a formal interview where they are asked about their career prospects and motivations.
As we mentioned earlier, today’s candidates are prepared to work extremely hard for their employer, but they want to feel respected and recognized for their contribution to others.
With new tech firms emerging all the time, it’s important that as an employer you remain competitive. It’s not just about high salaries. It’s also about flexible working hours, remote working capabilities, a generous paid-time-off policy, training and development, and ensuring that your candidates are professionally challenged.
Think about how you can invest in your employees’ futures – what can you offer that will encourage them to remain with you throughout their careers? The better the overall benefits package, the more you will gain a reputation for being an exemplary employer.
Finally, your biggest asset could be your existing staff. If the tech community is so close-knit, your existing staff could be the key to your recruitment success. As you look to recruit externally, why not ask your staff to advocate for you as a great employer to their peers?
If they are passionate about what you do and can highlight why you are good to work for, then they could offer a far superior endorsement than any external recruitment agent ever could.
You could decide to implement an employee referral scheme, whereby you offer a financial incentive to those employees who have taken the time to recommend you to someone, payable upon hiring.
But it’s also about recruiting from within. You need to ensure that all staff have the opportunity to apply for new positions, even if they are working on different projects. You need to showcase to your employees that they have the chance to progress and expand new skills, and one way to do that is to make it clear that they can also apply for new positions rather than waiting for their line managers to decide to promote them.
There’s no doubt that recruiting is tough and will likely remain tough for the foreseeable future. But with a bit of careful thought and proactive measures, it should be far easier to recruit top tech talent in even the most competitive areas.