How To Find IT and Digital Talent in the Midst of a Tech Shortage
In the current climate within the UK-IT sector, it can be extremely challenging to find genuine IT Talent. We share our top tips to help you fill your skills gaps with the most talented job seekers available in the IT job market.
Is There Really a Shortage of IT Talent?
No, it’s not just your imagination! Finding talented IT professionals is super tricky right now. It’s all down to a UK-wide technology skills shortage caused by two key issues:
Internal Skills Gaps
Within every business, there are ‘Knowledge Gaps’ or ‘Skills Gaps’. These terms refer to the difference between existing IT skills within the workplace and the knowledge required to fulfil business objectives. Such ‘Skills Gaps’ occur as a result of unfilled roles.
Global Tech Skills Shortage
To add to any internal issues businesses may be suffering from, there is the broader issue of a global technology skills shortage.
Within the UK alone, there are currently an estimated 600,000 vacancies in the Digital Technology sector. According to Workplace Insight, these unfilled roles are costing the economy £63 billion a year.
Interestingly, their findings show that despite Generation Z being “born with a technological spoon in their mouths”, school pupils still aren’t choosing to study IT-related subjects. In 2019, the number of students taking up IT-related courses fell by 15,000 (11%). Could this be because they feel they already have sufficient knowledge? Or, might students feel overwhelmed at the rapid rate of progression in software? Either way, there are big predictions for these skills shortage to grow even further.
Do Tech Professionals Need a Certificate to Prove Their Skills?
Many cite this source of data as an unfair representation of the UK’s Tech Talent. Why? Well, a considerable percentage of IT professionals claim to be self-taught. A survey by Stack Overflow in 2015, which polled more than 26,000 IT workers, in 157 countries, found:
- Almost 50% of Developers never gained a degree in their chosen discipline
- 41.8% of respondents described themselves as “self-taught”
- Only 37.7% held a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science or a related field
With campaigns such as “#100daysofcode“ and being able to teach yourself just about anything through the internet, this claim may not be so far fetched. Furthermore, many professionals believe that self-education is the best way to keep up with the latest software advances. Particularly as school syllabuses (understandably) struggle to keep up with the rapid rate of growth within the Tech Industry.
How To Find IT Talent During Dry Spells
At times like this, job candidates become lazy. They understand that their skills are in demand so instead of trawling job boards for the latest job postings, they wait for the jobs to come to them.
Although the forecast ahead may be slightly cloudy, fear not. Despite the data behind this vast skills shortage, suggesting nothing short of a skilled candidate drought, there are still plenty of talented IT-professionals out there! The trick is, knowing where and how to find them. Here are our top 5 ways to bag top talent when it feels like all IT professionals are hiding under rocks!
1) Use Social Media
Social Media is a highly underestimated tool. With the potential to reach thousands at the click of a button, marketing has not seen the likes for decades.
Using social networks is a way to engage with potential job candidates, so they can get to know your business and how you work. By posting pictures or videos of what goes on behind the scenes in your office, aspiring candidates can get a taste of what working life is like there.
Additionally, it is crucial to recognise that how people search for jobs is changing. Gone are the days of trolling through the job ads section of the local newspaper to find a role. Job hunters now are much more receptive when seeing a company on social media and how fun it may look to work there. Millennials and Generation Z love to see open-plan workspaces and nap pods, but snaps of Friday Beers can also say a lot about your business!
Because of the Skills Shortage, the IT Industry is mainly candidate-driven. Candidates are aware that you need their technical abilities more than they may need you. With so many companies crying out for IT professionals, how your business appears online is a significant factor in securing IT Talent. It, therefore, becoming increasingly more important to have a social media presence, especially when trying to attract IT, Digital and Marketing candidates.
2) Provide Solutions-Based Content
Make your website the place where talented tech candidates come to, to solve their work-related problems. The way to do this is by writing regular blog posts that your target audience find engaging and informative. This way, when a candidate finds themselves in need of a new role, your platform is the first place they will look, out of habit.
Creating a content strategy sounds like it could be labour intensive but it doesn’t have to be. You could start by offering solutions to small problems such as finding motivation on a Monday morning. To overcome this, you may share articles about how to get more sleep, how to be more productive, the best breakfast to keep you fueled for a long day. This way, you’re providing great advice for current employees while interacting with future candidates.
For a more fine-tuned approach, you could post articles about more technical issues. For example, the current IR35 reviews by the Government. The aim should be to drive your candidates to your website before you need them and should be a long-term strategy.
3) Tap into the Passive Market
This leads us to our next point, tapping into the passive market.
The passive market primarily refers to candidates who do not necessarily advertise that they’re looking for a new role. Candidates who usually operate this way are (generally) high calibre IT professionals. Such skills are so in demand that these individuals do not need to job hunt; instead, they wait for opportunities to come to them.
For this reason, online platforms such as LinkedIn are great for tapping into the passive market. Because here, the individual acts as their own gatekeeper, by accepting (or not) your connection request, the process is a lot quicker and a lot more fine-tuned. A Hiring Manager can message a potential candidate to find out within minutes if they are available and/or interested in their role.
4) Widen your Search Area
In the UK data centre sector, non-British staff are filling at least one in five business-critical technical positions. As a result, large corporations are extending their search for IT talent across cities, counties and countries!
Hiring out of towners can benefit businesses in a variety of ways. For example, it may increase office diversity by offering a new outlook or approach to tasks. New talent provides a unique experience and connections with new clientele. Candidates from neighbouring towns could hold valuable business connections that could open the doors to new business networks.
5) Manage Your Time Wisely
It’s easier said than done. Indeed, any one of these steps can be highly time-consuming. For example, some companies have whole in-house teams to manage and monitor their social media presence. It can eat away at vast amounts of company time, without any guaranteed outcome. Moreover, trying to break into the passive market requires an enormous amount of time and investment. Again, this often comes without any guaranteed success. It is therefore imperative for businesses to work out the goals they wish to accomplish before working on a strategy that will see them come to fruition. Time management is a key soft skill for your employees to develop if this is your company’s aim.
6 — Employee Referrals
Encourage existing employees to become ambassadors of your business by starting an employee referral scheme. This is a simple concept that is relatively cheap to set up and can double your recruitment efforts with very little work.
7 — Revamp Your Benefits Package
A skills shortage increases competition among employers for the best available IT talent. So, if your business wants to attract the most talented professionals, it needs to stand out as the most attractive employer. Therefore, a decent salary alone is not enough to attract top tech talent.
For example, let’s imagine you need a Software Engineer and there are several of your competitors all advertising the same role all with competitive salaries. How do you compete with that? The way to stand out is by offering a benefits package that makes your role more attractive than theirs.
Often small businesses struggle to compete with larger companies in this area because they can’t afford costly benefits such as dental or medical insurance. In fact, one of the most valuable perks to employees is the opportunity to work from home. This is particularly true among talented tech professionals. Working remotely gives them the headspace they need to focus on more challenging technical problems without interruptions.
Make it Easy on Yourself!
Not all businesses have the resources and budget to implement all of the tactics mentioned above. However, a well-established recruitment agency will offer these things as part of their service.
Additionally, working closely with a recruitment consultant will mean you no longer have to worry about allocating time to search for candidates, plan your strategy, allocate resources and investment. Instead, a recruitment consultant will manage all of this for you.
Do you know anyone who’s struggling to find the IT talent their business needs? Why not share this post with them on your favourite social media channel? They’re bound to thank you for it!