In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, the quest for skilled IT talent has intensified while the digital skills gap continues to grow. Technology has ushered in promises of a more efficient, connected workforce—and it’s becoming obvious that businesses simply can’t keep up with the advanced IT skill sets required to maintain the new status quo.
The “digital skills gap” refers to employees not being equipped to properly use the technology available to them—and it places a huge drain on company resources and productivity across entire organizations. According to Entrepreneur, the digital skills gap causes more than $1.3 trillion in U.S. business losses each year. Additionally, a report by Econsultancy indicates that acquiring talent with adequate skills is the single most significant obstacle impeding progress for businesses on the path toward enterprise digital transformation.
So, just what can businesses do to acquire and retain highly skilled IT talent?
The Trend Has Shifted Toward Hiring for Behavior Rather Than Qualifications
According to Econsultancy, “soft skills” like interpersonal abilities are of growing importance next to more traditional qualifications and vertically focused skillsets. With this in mind, recruiters are on the lookout for tech talent who are data-driven, personable, and flexible in their abilities.
Consider the following trends when approaching your solution to IT talent recruitment challenges:
1. Ensure that your company culture attracts skilled tech talent.
As businesses strive to stay digitally relevant, they need to maximize their efforts to appeal to technology-driven millennials by introducing initiatives that set their company apart from outdated, old-school office life.
- Incentivizing employees with an investment in their future with the company. This can include grooming IT talent for project leadership opportunities, creative compensation bonuses and stock options, and paid educational training to help them advance their careers.
- Offering non-traditional, comfortable workspaces that inspire creativity and collaboration. Think anti-cubicle, holistic workspaces outfitted with standing desk options and break rooms that are comfortable enough to actually relax in. (Check out Google and Facebook for examples of offices that have broken the mold.)
- Flextime and remote work options. Today’s tech talent expects their employer to trust them and to value their ability to work independently. They are familiar with remote collaboration and knowledge-sharing tools like Slack and Yammer, and they are never without their personal devices—so they have no trouble staying connected no matter where they are.
Since today’s IT talent deeply aligns themselves with technology in all aspects of their lives, they are naturally prone to unique needs and preferences in the workplace. By introducing creative initiatives that promote a flexible, supportive corporate culture, you’ll improve IT staffing retention, recruitment, and satisfaction across the board.
2. Use educational outreach and apprenticeship programs to develop your IT talent from within.
These days, many businesses are revisiting the idea of apprenticeships in order to help bridge the skills gap and to attract young employees who are still developing their skills. Consider aligning your IT department with internship programs at schools and universities to tap into tech talent at an early age.
3. Use social media as a company brand ambassador and recruitment tool.
Social media is no longer just for friendships, photos, and news stories. Today’s savvy organizations are aware that without a social media presence, they might as well be invisible to millennials and Gen-Yers.
Capitalize on your social media presence and monitor employee discussions and reviews of your company’s practices; this will help you create your digital recruiting and referral schemes in order to attract top tech talent.
4. Focus on your "employment brand" as a selling point to potential IT talent.
Today’s top tech talent won’t even consider applying to a company that they don’t resonate with and that they haven’t heavily researched first, and they will critically evaluate your brand of employment and company culture before taking that very first step. It pays to be sure that your social media presence, your website, and your hiring practices convey the culture you are trying to promote and is optimized to attract high caliber IT talent.
Additionally, check out your company’s reviews on sites like Indeed and Glassdoor to gain insight as to how you are perceived on the hiring and employment fronts, and use the information to make improvements to your employment brand and recruitment methods.
5. Leverage the Gig Economy: tap into contract labor to support project initiatives, growth opportunities, and increased production demands.
The future of IT staffing and temp staffing, in general, resides with the elastic, non-employee workforce. According to a recent study by Fieldglass, a vendor management software company in partnership with Ardent, a research and advisory outfit, nearly 35 percent of today’s workforce is made up of non-employee labor. This includes contract workers and temp staffing resources—and since 95 percent of organizations now view this element of the workforce as vital to their survival, tapping into the IT talent resources provided by IT staffing firms is a smart move toward bridging the skills gap and maintaining overall workplace productivity.
With businesses of all sizes moving at a rapid clip toward total digital transformation, the need to recruit and retain top tech talent shows no signs of slowing down. By taking an innovative, holistic approach toward employment branding and flexibility in your workplace culture, you can acquire and retain highly skilled IT talent that is dedicated to growing with your business over the long haul.