Digital transformation: 4 hiring mistakes to beware

The search for digital transformation talent is tighter than ever. Avoid these four common pitfalls – and consider alternate strategies for hiring success
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Whatever your reason for overhauling your infrastructure, adopting a digital-led strategy can improve efficiency, boost productivity, and make your business more competitive. In short, digital transformation can revitalize your organization.

But selecting and implementing the right digital products is only half the battle. Even the most innovative cloud tools don't work in a vacuum – to make the most of these platforms and get top ROI for your business, you need to have the right skill sets on your team.

The tech industry has been warning about the skills gap for some time. But as digital transformation accelerates and more organizations take their processes online, we're truly starting to see the impact of this shortage. With businesses keen to migrate to the cloud and put new digital foundations in place, demand for tech talent is higher than ever, and businesses that miss out could see their transformation plans grinding to a halt. 

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

4 digital transformation hiring mistakes - and what to do instead

That's why it's more important than ever to hire smart. With that in mind, here are a few common mistakes to avoid if you want to attract and retain the right tech professionals to fuel your digital transformation. 

1. Looking for a unicorn

Given that qualified tech professionals aren't exactly falling from the sky these days, you'll never find the right candidate if your list of “essential” skills and certifications is as long as your arm. 

You'll never find the right candidate if your list of “essential” skills and certifications is as long as your arm

If you're looking to hire someone to help you achieve your long-term digital ambitions, keep flexibility in mind. After all, the products you use today will evolve and so will the skill sets needed to work with them. 

If you hire for potential, adaptability, and enthusiasm, your new hire can grow with you and develop to your business's changing needs. 

[ What skills are hottest right now? Read also: IT careers: 10 critical skills to master in 2021. ]

2. Not selling your employer brand

In a market as competitive as tech, it's not only about what a candidate can do for you: You also need to sell yourself to job seekers. What can your company offer that others can't? Don't get too hung up on the bottom line; make it a broader conversation about where you want to go as a company and what drives you. Great talent wants to do work that makes a difference, for a company with a purpose. 

Professional development is crucial too. Great professionals are always thinking about improving and building on their skills, so implementing a  proper career pathway and showcasing your investment in training can pique a candidate's interest.

3. Skimping on salary

Salary may not be the be-all-end-all, but that doesn't mean you can lowball a skilled tech professional on the promise of free fruit in the office. You get what you pay for, and salaries in the tech space are high for those with the right skills. Be prepared to pay the going rate or you won't even get out of the starting block.

Don’t forget to consider the total compensation package: Perks and benefits can have a massive impact. Find out what your candidate wants and see what you can do. Perks like flexible or hybrid work options cost nothing and can be a big draw for many job seekers – which brings us to our final point.

[ Do you know how to spot top digital talent? Read also: Digital transformation: 4 signs of a superstar. ]

4. Fishing from the same pond as everyone else  

In a candidate-short market, you need to think bigger to ensure you're getting the best choice of professionals. After all, if you limit your search to the same ponds as everyone else, you'll be fighting over the same few fish.

Offering more flexible ways of working will not only make your business more attractive – especially with the growing adoption of remote work – but it could open up the candidate pool, giving you access to a broader range of professionals. 

There's a lot of work to do to make the tech space more diverse and inclusive, and eliminating barriers by giving professionals more flexibility in how they work can make IT careers more accessible to talented candidates, particularly women. Plus, getting on board with remote work means you're not restricted to candidates from your local area.

You'll put yourself ahead in the battle for talent if you step outside of the usual hiring channels. Engage with local user groups and techie clubs, go to events and conferences, offer to host meetups and hackathons. All of these strategies will help you connect with valuable tech talent and grow your network of potential candidates.

[ Culture change is the hardest part of digital transformation. Get the digital transformation eBook: Teaching an elephant to dance. ]

Rowan O'Grady
Rowan O'Grady is President of Americas at Mason Frank International. Rowan started his career with Hays at entry-level in 1995 and is a graduate in Business Studies from CASS Business School at City University in London and has since built 25 years of experience in specialist staffing across EMEA and the USA.

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