Building The Dream
Whether your company is in high tech or your business growth strategy includes innovating and building tech-driven capabilities, you need specific skills to get IT projects done. These skills, unfortunately, are ever-changing and hard to find. But if you want to be competitive, you have to have a plan to build a tech talent pipeline that will grow with the business.
When asked of their biggest challenges in software development, the top two answers that garnered half of the overall responses from software development leaders were “capacity” and “hiring talent.” Without capacity, companies have backlogs of ideas and projects that may die on the vine before they’re ever executed. Even if they make their way into the development cycle, a lack of resources can slow their speed-to-market and miss their window of opportunity. Then there’s the hiring talent issue.
HR ÍDive reported on a survey conducted by XpertHR that found “finding high-quality talent is the top challenge for HR leaders in 2019.” More than half of the 800 HR professionals who responded to the survey said that they were challenged by making sure workers and supervisors have the skills needed now and into the future.
Finding The Right Talent
We live in a digital world that has completely reshaped the enterprise. Tech talent is no longer siloed into the IT department and creative talent can often be found in IT departments. The lines are blurred because innovation across the board demands technology. For every new web application, mobile application, e-commerce application, cloud-based application and other interactive digital capabilities, a team of developers, engineers and other IT specialists is behind it.
Developers are, therefore, in high demand from companies in every industry. They need to innovate and bring to market these digital capabilities, but they are, sadly, in short supply. Same can be said for data scientists and software engineers. You can’t have a digital service or capability without them. The good news is, positions for tech support roles and IT technicians are a bit easier to fill, at least according to Bloomberg.
Because of the rapidly-changing digital needs, finding the right skill sets can be an ongoing endeavor. It’s not enough to simply fill a position now and wait to see what needs come up next. By the time a company realizes it requires additional help or new skills to develop or enhance a new capability, it can be too late to begin the talent search. Remember, finding experienced tech talent can take more time than other business functions. A report by Workable found that Information Technology/Design roles take, on average, anywhere between 51-56 days. That’s just to hire and does not include onboarding and training.
Addressing this same sourcing issue, Inc. recommends companies:
- Ask for referrals
- Continually visit career sites, job boards and social media
- Attend events and “constantly network”
- Become an employer of choice
- Consistently communicate with applicants
- Leverage current employees testimonials
- Expand candidate pools beyond local
- Hire headhunters and recruiters
While this is great advice for companies who are ready to dig in and stay there, not many companies have this kind of time or dedicated resources to constantly nurture such a tech-talent pipeline campaign. For easier-to-fill positions, some of these suggestions may work just fine. The more unique, specific or experienced the job requirement, however, the more time these techniques may take.
Elements of a Sustainable Talent Sourcing Strategy
In order to continually fill the tech talent pipeline, someone has to keep tabs on the available skills. If the company is short on resources, funds to pay for that dedicated resource(s), or experience on how best to go about it, they need to look at that last bullet above. They’re not outsourcing the hiring process completely, they are handing over the most challenging hiring phase to experts – allowing the staffing company to whittle down a list of hundreds to maybe only a handful of highly-qualified candidates. The hiring company will still need to conduct interviews and negotiate the offer, but they’re able to jump way ahead in the process with less interruption to the business.
Hiring IT tech recruiters offloads the burden of constant networking and career board monitoring to professionals who already know where the best talent lies. The best IT and digital staffing companies have long-standing relationships with talent, knowing exactly what skills they have, what would entice them to interview for another job, and what offer would get them to jump on board.
When a company hires a firm to help them fill their tech talent pipeline, a few things happen.
They get to know your company first.
Any IT and digital staffing company worth its weight should first come into their client’s office and stay a while. They need to interview all stakeholders who would be interacting or benefitting from this new hire or hires. By understanding the different viewpoints, expected skill requirements, upcoming projects that would utilize those skills, and the “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” project management communication and SCM tool experience, the recruiter can narrow their search.
Knowing the current projects from which the current need is emerging is only half of the story. The staffing firm should also be able to see into the project pipeline to understand what’s coming down the road, even years down the road. In this way, they can help anticipate future tech talent needs. They may know of a perfect candidate who is currently working on a project with another employer but would be interested in shifting in a year or so. They’ll make note of that and keep in touch with the candidate as they dangle the carrot.
Beyond the technology and project requirements, the staffing expert should get to know the culture of their client companies as well. Even the most qualified candidate will circle the drain if they’re placed in a company culture that doesn’t fit with their personality or preferences. The Balance Careers says, “When an employee fits in with the culture, they are also likely to want to work for that company longer. Thus, employers can improve productivity and employee retention through a strong office culture.”
They spread their nets wide.
The beauty of working with an IT and digital staffing agency is that they know where to find the talent. They know the local talent and beyond, even international talent. They form relationships with top talent, emerging talent and everyone in between, knowing what skills they are developing along the way. This is particularly important in the digital age where technology platforms and capabilities continually change.
They have the inside scoop.
Agencies may also know how each candidate feels about their current job. They know who is willing to leave their current employer and which are steadfast. Because the agency keeps tabs on these people, they also make note of the types of projects on which they work, what additional training they’re receiving to broaden their skill set, and what in type of culture they work best.
Staffing experts can also help their clients craft the best offer because they know what the candidate is making at their current job, their benefits and even whether their employer provided opportunities to develop their skills. Gartner says one of the leading causes of employee disengagement is the perception that there are few growth opportunities and disengaged employees are two-thirds more likely to leave their current employer.
All of these data points mean one thing for the hiring company – faster job filling with the right-fit candidate(s) with less effort, which means potentially less cost in the long run. The client can sit back while the agency does the heavy lifting, bringing them only the top, prescreened candidates as needed along the way as their needs evolve. Both candidate and employer know they’re in the right place and not wasting each other’s time. This is how competitive companies continually attract the right talent.