A blueprint for winning the tech talent war

blueprints on table

Digital transformation is impossible if enterprises lack the right techologies. But just as critical to digital transformation efforts is having the in-house skills to fully leverage artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, the cloud, edge computing, and other emerging technologies, not to mention the more traditional tech skills necessary to maintain and secure enterprise networks and applications.

Acquiring or developing those tech skills isn’t easy. IT trade association CompTIA estimated there were nearly 920,000 unfilled IT jobs in the U.S. during a three-month period in the summer and fall of 2019, according to the Wall Street Journal.

With so many IT jobs left vacant, it’s little wonder that many organizations struggle to gain traction with their digital transformation initiatives. So what can enterprises do to identify and attract qualified candidates for vacant tech jobs? Software company iCIMS analyzed more than 25 million technology applications from 2016 to 2019 to create a report for CIOs and CTOs for hiring tech talent. Among the report’s recommendations:

  • Re-train existing employees, beginning with those on the help desk. Put frontline support staff into fast-track training for more critical areas of IT, given that companies are not struggling to hire help desk talent.
  • Attract non-traditional candidates. Seek out and hire candidates who have demonstrated aptitude, even though they may not have a four-year degree in technology. Recruiters often believe a coding boot camp is as meaningful as a college degree in the technology field.
  • Target hiring incentives only for the most difficult-to-hire. Not all tech positions are time-consuming to fill. In fact, time to hire for several roles, including support specialists and security analysts, remains unchanged.

That’s all sound advice. Indeed, in-house probably should be the first place to look for tech talent because decision-makers already are familiar with the candidates, including their work habits, enthusiasm, and capacity for learning. Training might preclude filling vacant positions quickly, but building from within is a powerful long-term strategy because it demonstrates commitment to workers, which in turn increases trust, loyalty, and commitment.

Thinking outside the normal hiring box to find non-traditional candidates also can return dividends to companies willing to put in the time and effort because they may not have as many competitors trying to hire these candidates.

For the really difficult tech positions to fill, such as IT project manager or computer systems engineer, organizations may have to offer rewards for employee referrals and signing bonuses. Sure, that costs more, but as iCIMS argues, “the future will be won by organizations with the best tech talent.”

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