IT specialists recruitment: the definitive challenge
Once upon a time in Europe, in the year 2023. The world was facing many challenges, and of all sorts. One of these challenges was not a new one...
As it happens, it was a recurring one inherited from years past. The specific challenge was about Talent Acquisition strategies in the IT industry. In other words, the recruitment of professionals and specialists in the IT field. The lack of profiles in this domain was due to the rapid and all-encompassing digitalization of the world: in businesses, on social media, in cars, and overall communications. Wherever one was looking, there was some kind of (renewed) transformation from a legacy system, sometimes even analogic, to a new one, digital.
Many organizations were struggling to keep up with the latest trends and technologies, all in the face of an obvious lack of resources. Even the IT consulting companies, the ones companies were turning to when the internal teams were overwhelmed, could not keep up the necessary pace needed to staff and grow the IT department. In other words, the specialists themselves were in dire need of Talent Acquisition strategies in the IT industry and recruiting the educated and experienced IT professionals they needed.Stated differently, a novel approach to the recruitment of professionals and specialists in the IT field was necessary while the talent pool was not keeping up with the demand.
Everybody was vying for the same top talent: large tech giants, ambitious startups, good old industrial behemoths, the financial sector - banks in particular - as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and consulting firms.
As a result, companies had to compete for the limited number of skilled IT professionals available, particularly in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. Everybody was vying for the same top talent: large tech giants, ambitious startups, good old industrial behemoths, the financial sector - banks in particular - as well as governmental and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, consulting firms, you name it!
Even if you were skilled and lucky enough to identify, interview, and hire such a rare profile, keeping them was another story, as everybody was happily poaching people from their competitors. So, recruiting them was just one part, and not always the most difficult one. That is another story and the subject of a subsequent article.
An add-on challenge was the trend toward remote work. This tendency was already in the air and due, on the one hand, to lengthy commuting, and on the other hand, the unstoppable spread of the digitalization of work and society at large: no need to show up in the office for quite a number of jobs. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the last taboos were lifted, and work from home became, first mandatory, and subsequently, the standard, at least for the people whose activity could be executed from the privacy of their homes. This phenomenon made it increasingly difficult for companies to attract talent to specific geographic locations, as many IT professionals, in particular, but not only, were seeking opportunities that allowed them to work first from home and then from anywhere in the world. Another incentive to devise a new approach to talent acquisition strategies in the IT industry.
Despite these, apparently insurmountable challenges, some organizations were able and successful in changing their hiring strategies and tactics to the rapidly evolving landscape. They acknowledged the necessity to adapt their practice in the recruitment of professionals and specialists in the IT field. In order to open up the positions to be filled to a larger talent pool, they created an inclusive workplace where candidates from all types of backgrounds could identify. That meant stressing a culture based on diversity and inclusion in their hiring processes. Not only white males under thirty, to caricature, found themselves at ease but people from all types of racial, social, and academic backgrounds discovered a haven where their identity and sexual orientation would not be judged or held against them. On the contrary, their difference was an asset contributing to the quality of work and group dynamics.
Despite these apparently insurmountable challenges, some organizations were able and successful in changing their hiring strategies and tactics to the rapidly evolving landscape.
These forward-thinking companies were also able to identify candidates with the right skills for the job. Not only skills that were readily at hand, but that could be developed. Implementing continuous learning and development policies and accessibility, candidates with the right attitude, but lack of experience or schooling, could develop into employees mastering the latest trends and technologies within a reasonable time frame.
In the end, the companies that were proactive in addressing the challenges of IT recruitment in 2023 were the ones that were most successful in attracting and retaining top talent. They recognized the importance of adapting to the changing landscape and evolving their talent acquisition strategies in the IT industry. They ultimately emerged as leaders in the world of IT recruitment in Europe.
2023 is now
Whereas this description of the recruitment of professionals and specialists in the IT field may seem idyllic, it is a new reality: a complex, challenging, and huge task that requires expertise, patience, and perseverance. And things are not going to get easier in the coming months and years. Companies that invest in building a robust recruitment process and offer competitive compensation packages will be better positioned to attract and retain top talent in the highly dynamic IT industry. So, get ready. And consider alternative talent acquisition strategies in the IT industry, such as IT hiring strategies with RPO providers, amongst them - Serendi.
Let us start by stating that we, at Serendi, continuously monitor the specific state and challenges of our IT Recruitment teams. We then, on an ongoing basis, upgrade our knowledge and understanding of IT hiring strategies with RPO and adapt the technology we use to be the best in class. In addition, we also run systematic training sessions for our consultants, not only the newly onboarded, so that they can talk at eye level with candidates and can challenge them on technical skills. Training & Development also helps them understand and foresee their clients’ needs in terms of the recruitment of professionals and specialists in the IT field.
Critical Factors in IT Recruitment
Recruitment in IT generally involves finding and hiring the right talent to meet the organization's present and future technical requirements. The IT industry is highly dynamic, and recruiting the right talent with the required technical expertise, skills, and knowledge is crucial for success. Here are some specifics of recruitment in IT:
Job Roles: The IT industry has a wide range of job roles, including software developers, database administrators, network engineers, cybersecurity experts, project managers, coders, and many more. Each of these roles requires different skills and expertise, and recruiters need to understand the nuances of each role to find the right candidate. Job roles are intimately linked with technical skills also because software and hardware evolve so quickly. A candidate must be on the level of both role and technical knowledge. At the same time, the specialization of the aforementioned profiles keeps on increasing. One needs to be 100% up-to-date with the latest trends in the industry.
Companies that invest in building a robust recruitment process and offer competitive compensation packages will be better positioned to attract and retain top talent in the highly dynamic IT industry.
Technical Skills: Technical skills are critical for talent acquisition strategies in the IT industry. Recruiters must evaluate a candidate's technical skills through technical assessments, coding tests, or other methods to ensure that they have the necessary knowledge and expertise to perform the job. If recruiters are challenged in the assessment of technical skills, they have access to all Serendi consultants who have distinct types of expertise to support them in the evaluation. If that is not enough, extern experts can be hired to complement the potential lack of specific expertise.
Soft Skills - Part 1: Soft skills are equally important in the recruitment of professionals and specialists in the IT field, including communication skills, problem-solving ability, teamwork, adaptability, and time management. Recruiters should assess these skills during the interview process to ensure a candidate's ability to work collaboratively with other team members.
Soft Skills - Part 2: Recruiters themselves must be trained and experienced to talk to a crowd that sometimes is a bit aloof and lacks communication skills. How do you approach people that receive over a dozen headhunters’ calls a day? Ask yourself whether your recruiters know, not only how, but where to approach their target. With “where”, we mean not only conferences and trade shows but also online forums and blogs. Creativity is the master word in this case.
Industry Experience: Experience in the IT industry can be an essential factor in IT recruitment. Recruiters often look for candidates with experience in specific domains such as fintech, healthcare, or e-commerce, depending on the organization's needs. Obviously, with RPO, IT hiring strategies are always up to date.
Educational Qualifications: Educational qualifications such as computer science degrees or certifications in specific technologies can also be a crucial factor in IT recruitment. However, recruiters should not rely solely on educational qualifications and should consider a candidate's overall skill set and experience. More importantly, many IT professionals have learned on the job and are one training away from being stars in their field. Identifying candidates with the right potential and not only the right experience and knowledge is essential.
Salary and Benefits: Offering competitive salaries and benefits is crucial in IT recruitment, as the demand for skilled IT professionals is high. Organizations that offer attractive compensation packages are more likely to attract and retain top talent. In this area creativity also plays a role. If you are an SME, you probably cannot compete with the biggies in the industry on salaries. What else can you offer your (future) employees in terms of compensation? Free beer and pizza on Fridays is nice but has done its time as a perk.
Recruitment Channels: Recruiters can use different recruitment channels to source IT talent, including job portals, social media, referrals, job fairs, and university placements. Using a mix of channels can help recruiters reach a larger pool of candidates and find the right fit for the organization.
The trick is: companies that deal with a high(or limited for that matter) demand for IT talents often cannot manage the recruitment process from beginning to end without highly valuable help. The list of challenges is significant and RPO can largely contribute to overcoming them. Below is a non-exhaustive list of the hurdles.
Competition for tech talent: RPO organizations keep a constant relationship with the candidates they assessed. Personal contact is essential when a decision to accept a new job offer is on the table. RPO organizations have the experience and skills to “sell” their clients’ jobs to the potential employees of their database. IT hiring strategies with RPO are the optimal ones.
Companies that deal with a high(or limited for that matter) demand for IT talents often cannot manage the recruitment process from beginning to end without highly valuable help.
Amount of vacancies: this problem is another perspective on the point above. The problem is also a structural one. In other words, you need to keep a constant pool of potential hot candidates in case you need it. Unless you have the means to do this internally. Given this problem, we always reassess the skills needed to make sure that we focus our efforts on the right profiles.
Offer and demand: as the best candidates are the ones that are searched the most actively, they have no incentive whatsoever to be visible. In other words, they are passive. RPO companies have the network necessary to identify, approach, and engage the top candidates on the market. And also, RPO firms know where to look! It is not only a question of casting a wide net, but sometimes detective work is also required, and the search resembles more a highly skilled craft(wo)man’s job.
Communication: RPO recruiters, whatever the field, are fluent in their candidates’ languages, whether they are foreign languages or industry-related. The line of communication is open and mutual trust is constant. RPO candidates pick up the phone. Communication is also a question of framing: how do you present the opportunity to a candidate when you cannot compete with the most competitive firms on salary? RPO recruiters spend lots of time, for lack of a better word, selling the job to the candidate. And more often than not, the perspective is more objective when it’s an outsider’s one. RPO recruiters are well-versed in the recruitment of professionals and specialists in the IT field.
Reality strike: RPO recruiters have their fingers on the pulse of the market of candidates. They can tell you if your job description is within reasonable expectations or not. If you shoot wrong or are over-ambitious in your expectations, the odds of finding the right candidate are next to zero. And this without counting time, money, and frustration.
Data: RPO’s main technical tool is their ATS (Applicant tracking system). An ATS allows for constant analysis of the market, the available candidate pool, and the existing and required skills. Used skillfully and updated constantly, this invaluable tool is what increases the chances of a successful hire. A key benefit of an ATS is the wealth of information available to help recruitment leaders understand if their hiring strategy is effective or not and predict hiring trends.
Nothing an RPO provider does cannot be replicated or executed by the client company. The differences lay in the systematic approach to recurring obstacles and challenges, the well-trained skills in data management and well-oiled processes, the cross-European market insights, the access to the hidden market of candidates, the execution speed from the moment a job opening is released until it is completed, the identification of suitable and motivated candidates well within the job description and attributes. Unless you are up to the immense challenge of defining the optimal Talent Acquisition strategies in the IT industry, you are better off turning to an experienced and reliable RPO partner.