As the new decade begins, the strong job market continues and the unemployment rate remains around 3.5%. While great for most job seekers, these conditions pose problems for hiring managers. Hiring for rapid-growth fields, like emerging technologies and IT especially, continues to be a challenge. There are nearly one million open IT and tech jobs across the US.
IT hiring managers run into 4 areas that provide the hardest challenges:
Quality of Candidates
Problem: Job Market
The biggest challenge that hiring managers face today is the candidate market. As shown above, the unemployment rate remains low. This means a small pool of active job-seekers from which to choose, and those with talent have many options available. Hiring processes often require a lengthy interview sessions along with assessments for skills and personality. While these assessments attempt to reduce the burden on the interview process, they can lengthen the process and the necessary steps a candidate must complete. This is where the problem lies.
Candidates are being asked to do more, but the job market does not encourage them to participate in a more stringent process. Some candidates end up abandoning the process early. Other times, another company moves more quickly to make the candidate an offer. Recruiters must then go back to the same limited talent pool to try to find new candidates and the process begins again.
Solution: Widen the Search
If a company’s process for vetting candidates involves many steps, the organization should search for candidates before the need arises. Starting the search early has a much better chance of hiring the candidate who fits both the role and company best. Companies actively looking for talent for heavily utilized positions on a consistent, or even constant, basis have the greatest chance of landing the new hires they need to complete their strategic initiatives. Growth and expansion goals are difficult to achieve if teams must wait for long periods for new teammates. Reducing the timelines on the hiring process may help alleviate some of these issues.
Searches can also be expanded by looking to new groups for talent. School and training programs are developing all the time around the changing requirements of IT markets. These students will be ready to hit the ground running and have the base skills to be successful. Hire for attitude and train, train, train. Veterans are another great source of talent as they possess leadership characteristics, applicable job skills and have experience with extensive training and advanced technologies. Veterans re-enter the workforce with a mindset geared towards immediately contributing to the team. The added experience from a highly disciplined environment may also prove useful when looking for teammates or managers.
The second biggest challenge is competition between firms for candidates. Businesses now must compete for qualified candidates much like they compete for clients. Since the job market is so tight, candidates often have multiple choices for positions. Many recruiters are reaching out to a candidate at the same time – again, great for job-seekers, not great for businesses in need of talent. The techniques that worked five years ago aren’t effective anymore. Candidates know they have choices, so it takes a lot of effort to really stand out.
A company can stand out and differentiate itself by highlighting the benefits of the position beyond the typical salary/benefits (work from home, team events, and reward programs). Just like when selling to a potential client, organizations must show candidates why they should join. Businesses must show the value of working “here” over anywhere else. As personalization becomes more and more standard, job offers and benefits must too become personalized. Candidates look for the position and benefits that fit with their unique situation.
Outside of personalized offers, values of the company can also be a factor in applying to a position. Core values, corporate social responsibility practices, and even taking a stand on social values can sway consumer spending, let alone a candidate’s decision to work at a specific business. All of these are taken into consideration by good candidates.
Problem: Quality of Candidates
Lack of skilled, quality talent in demanding locations and/or industries is prevalent. The IT and technology sectors work with advanced and emerging technologies, presenting the issue: “If the technology is new, who knows how to use it?” The average time to fill a position has now extended beyond 30 days due to difficulty finding the right talent and skill sets. As we discussed previously with job market problems, this extension comes with its own issues.
Solution: Upskilling and New Search Patterns
Despite the challenges that a vacant position presents, it’s even worse to fill a job with the wrong candidate only to have to refill the position at a later date. As new positions develop or new skill sets are needed, the best method may be to identify existing teammates to receive further training to move into these roles. This not only helps keep them engaged with work, but also offers them the opportunity to advance their own skills and career. When upskilling occurs, a position with a less advanced skill set may open up allowing more candidates the opportunity to apply. Having this type of development path also helps to create career ladders within an organization, adding even more value.
Just like when trying to solve the issue with the tight job market, recruiters may need to look in new places to find individuals with the talent or interest to fill positions. Social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook advertise their community spaces which are centered on any number of interests – including new and advanced technologies. These groups can provide opportunities for recruiters to engage with targeted talent pools and audiences to potentially find new candidates.
Problem: Culture Fit
“Finding candidates who have a genuine interest in working at my company is a big challenge.”, and is also a common lament. Company culture and a team-oriented outlook are crucial to attracting talent. Great Place To Work and yearly rankings of companies exist because candidates search for companies at which other people enjoy working. Businesses can try to gloss over a poor work environment with higher pay and perks, but ultimately, people leave jobs because of a poor manager, or because the company has a poor culture. Organizations have to create an authentic, genuinely awesome place to work, or the best employees will go somewhere else that does.
Solution: Build/Promote Your Culture
To be successful in a more competitive hiring market, companies need to present themselves as an exciting workplace. Building this type of environment not only helps attract new talents, but helps to retain current teammates. Everyone benefits from this as recruitment focuses on growth rather than replacement. Promoting your culture also helps candidates decide, before applying, if they fit into the culture. Displaying core values, telling the story of the company, and sharing the values in action on social media paints a picture for potential candidates to help them envision if they could be a part of the team.
The job market and hiring trends may change, but the challenges of finding quality candidates and those candidates fitting into company culture remain in any economic climate. Building and showcasing company culture, demonstrating core values, and going beyond the typical work benefits attract more candidates and help retain current staff. Attracting more applicants and losing fewer employees helps the entire team, not just your hiring staff.
If you, or your business, are having trouble hiring for IT positions, outsourcing IT services can be a helpful, less expensive alternative. Our team of experts is ready to partner with your organization.
If you are looking for an IT position, please visit our Careers page.