3 ways to adapt talent strategies as job hopping and ghosting grow

Skills shortages are bad enough, but now IT leaders must deal with increased job hopping and even ghosting. Here's how to strengthen your hiring and retention approach
532 readers like this.

Hiring in IT has never been an easy task, but hiring managers face new challenges in an already competitive landscape for talent. A shortage of skilled workers, increased job hopping, and the growing phenomenon of ghosting means one thing – it’s a talent-driven market and we will need to adapt.

Ask any IT hiring manager and they will give you a list of positions they’ve had a hard time filling. Some of those open positions are more established roles like cybersecurity and DevOps. But it’s the disruptive technologies that can be the hardest to fill. Disruption and innovation not only require new skills and processes, but also new technologies. These new technologies have a limited number of experienced technologists.

AI and blockchain developers, for example, are two disruptive roles that continue to be in high demand. According to a recent LinkedIn report, there has been a 190 percent increase in AI job postings during the last two years. In late 2018, there were more than 12,000 job postings for blockchain developers and engineers. There simply aren’t enough trained workers to fill these positions.

Whereas in the past, job hopping may have raised a red flag on a prospective employee’s resume, it’s now looked upon favorably.

U.S. unemployment has dropped to the lowest levels in nearly 18 years. Employees are demanding higher wages and they’re more willing to pursue new opportunities. This has led to increased job hopping or staying in a role less than two years. Long-held perceptions about job hopping are changing in this new landscape. Whereas in the past, job hopping may have raised a red flag on a prospective employee’s resume, it’s now looked upon favorably in the workforce. Global staffing firm Robert Half reports that 64 percent of professionals polled think that changing roles every few years can be beneficial – a 22 percent increase from a similar poll conducted four years prior.

[ Read also: 4 ways to retain IT talent in 2019. ]

In addition, people are increasingly ghosting their current and future employers. For those unfamiliar with the term, ghosting is when someone suddenly ends all contact without explanation. It originated in the dating world but has now spread to the workforce. In other words, your database administrator may have lunch with you one day and not show up again for work the next day. That's sad.

I see three ways to adapt to overcome these modern hiring challenges:

1. Embrace a remote workforce

To increase employee satisfaction and improve employee retention, more companies are offering flexible schedules and remote work. Today, more than 25 percent of Dell employees work from home either full-time or a few days a week. Dell plans to increase that stat to 50 percent by 2020.

The adoption of collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams allow remote team members to feel more engaged. Remote workers are reporting greater happiness than their office-bound co-workers. Sure, you don’t hear as much of the office gossip, but you also aren’t interrupted multiple times per day.

Work to determine which team members, including new hires, would benefit from working remotely. It may not work for your entire team, but some may embrace the change and be more productive due to fewer interruptions. I have had great success in offering my team members the ability to work remotely. It has led to not only increased productivity but also improved employee retention and job satisfaction. Currently, the majority of my team works remotely two or more days per week.

2. Create your own experts

Roles like AI and blockchain developers (or substitute your favorite technology) may seem impossible to fill with new candidates. So why look at new candidates? You already have team members who most likely want to grow their careers and already understand the needs of your business. These are your experts in the making.

Commit to those team members that want to learn the new technologies and develop their careers.

Commit to those team members that want to learn the new technologies and develop their careers. This means investing in training to bring them up to speed on new and emerging technologies. Yes, it will be expensive, and it may require time out of the office for training. However, chances are it will be less expensive and less time consuming than a long search process for someone who may or may not show up for the interview.

As technologists, we invest in upgrading our infrastructure every few years to main the integrity of the environment and ensure we are at peak performance. The same strategy can apply to your workforce. Investing in your teams will not only help you retain existing employees but also attract potential new candidates to join your team.

[ How can you get started? Read our related article: AI skills: 5 ways to build talent internally. ]

3. Understand the needs of individuals

As hiring managers, we must be willing to adapt to the needs of a changing workforce. Start by understanding the needs of the individuals on your team. This starts during the hiring process. Do they need a more flexible schedule to accommodate young children? Do they need to come in later to avoid a brutal commute? Do they need to work from home because of an allergy or other sensitivity?

Each employee has his or her own needs, and it is your job as a manager to understand what motivates them and what makes them want to keep working for you and your company. Ghosting ends when people create real and meaningful connections with others. Be willing to make those connections with your team, and your ability to attract and retain the best talent will likewise improve.

[ Read our report from HBR Analytic Services: Transformation Masters: The New Rules of CIO Leadership. ]

Jason James is CIO of Net Health. He has led IT operations for fast-growth technology companies for over twenty years.