IT hiring: Assumptions and truths about the current talent shortage

Struggling to fill key tech positions? Consider these three common misconceptions about how to manage today's talent gap
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Qualified talent has been hard to come by in 2022 and even harder to retain as the Great Resignation continues. The most profound impacts are being felt by the tech and healthcare industries as mid-level employees leave in droves.

With the spotlight focused on talent, the question on everyone’s mind is how to remain competitive when the demand for higher compensation grows daily. According to a pulse check survey by The Conference Board, 50 percent of CEOs surveyed globally cite recruitment and retention as their most critical human capital focus for 2022.

While growing your team can alleviate bottlenecks, strengthen the quality of service to your customers, and ease the stress on burnt-out employees, it’s not the only solution. Here are three misconceptions about the war for talent, the reality of those assumptions, and how to manage the talent gap effectively.

Assumption 1: It's impossible to grow without adequate talent

It can be difficult to drive growth when teams are stretched and global tensions are high, as they have been for the better part of two years. New process adoption can meet resistance from employees who are already overwhelmed. If and when this happens, a stalemate often follows, and team leaders opt to wait it out, deferring change to another team or another time.

The truth: Digital transformation can help fill the gaps

The pandemic challenged us all to rethink the way we work. Investments in software took the place of physical office space, and teams were pushed to automate repeatable tasks to maintain a pre-pandemic level of efficiency. With the implementation of artificial intelligence and machine learning, workflow improvements can be expedited, lessening the need for as many employees.

[ Also read IT retention: 5 strategies for becoming a talent magnet. ]

Technologies like low-code and no-code are easing the burden felt by developers by enabling employees outside of IT to build systems unique to their needs without the slowdown created by a backlog of IT tickets. In turn, this frees the bandwidth for developers to turn toward other pressing concerns like security.

The downside to both AI/ML and no-code/low-code investments is that they take a significant investment upfront. Change of any kind brings challenges, but with no end to the Great Resignation in sight, it is well worth it to commit to building out your tech stack in this area.

Assumption 2: You must offer the highest salary to attract strong talent

Traditionally, it has felt impossible to compete with Big Tech and Big Tech budgets to win talent. Recruiter anecdotes, like this one from The New York Times, have led many to believe that candidates only have one thing on their mind: compensation.

The truth: Candidates are looking for more than money

How can you shape your talent acquisition and retention strategy to be about more than the bottom line? These three things can help build a robust and competitive employee experience:

Invest in the talent you have: We’ve heard a lot about upskilling and reskilling as a popular solution for filling holes quickly. It gives employees more autonomy and ownership over their growth and changes can be made relatively quickly without traditional onboarding. Though it may seem natural to upskill your already technically savvy employees, consider that your infrastructure-focused teams, like those in administrative roles, could also be great candidates for internal training programs.

Though it may seem natural to upskill your already technically savvy employees, consider that your infrastructure-focused teams could also be great candidates for internal training programs.

Lean into culture: If you have been biding your time and hoping your organization’s culture will rebound once employees return to the office, it’s critical to begin building a sustainable culture designed intentionally for a hybrid workforce. Candidates are looking for a differentiator, and a strong culture tops the list.

[ Read also: Empowerment is not enough: 5 ways to drive culture change ]

Lay out the path for growth: Junior candidates especially want to understand the long-term opportunities for success in your organization. Laying out a clear path to achieve professional development can help your organization stand out.

Assumption 3: It's a candidate's market

From the entry-level to the C-suite, candidates hold the cards knowing they are in high demand. Tech employment rates consistently lock in below the national average. As discussed in this article, job seekers are leveraging this to negotiate higher salaries, unlimited PTO, workplace flexibility, and more.

The truth: It IS a candidate's market, but that doesn’t have to be a disadvantage

To fill roles as quickly as possible, it’s essential to iron out all the kinks in your hiring process. With talent so in demand, a candidate is unlikely to wait for your offer, however competitive, if a similar or better opportunity comes along. To act quickly, keep interviewing and making hiring decisions at the top of the to-do list.

In the same vein, candidates who have the power to choose want to clearly understand what they’re getting into. Come to the table with a concrete workplace plan that ideally offers as much flexibility as possible. Your top candidates are more likely to take a risk on an opportunity that feels secure.

Finally, gambling on candidates with non-traditional backgrounds can have enormous returns for your organization. Because of the widespread availability of online certifications, self-taught candidates can bring to the role the needed hard skills without a four-year degree. Being open to such applicants can help move the hiring process forward.

Predictions indicate that more people will return to the workforce in 2022, but we are still unlikely to see things reach pre-pandemic levels. Don’t wait to rethink your talent acquisition strategy. Small changes can have a lasting impact on your organization’s ability to hire, retain, and upskill employees.

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

Sachin Gupta is the CEO and Co-Founder of HackerEarth. Sachin is a former software developer at Google and Microsoft, and now heads sales/marketing/operations at HackerEarth. A developer by trade, he is passionate about the developer community and ensuring every developer is connected with the right opportunity.