Technology is a sector experiencing boom conditions. Nevertheless, with an uncertain economic outlook and rising inflation and business costs, there have been reports of Big Tech hiring freezes or significant slowdowns as they take stock of the road ahead.
The reality is that most Big Tech is continuing to hire, certainly at a contractor level and for specific business-critical roles. However, there may be a drop in overall volumes in the short to medium term – meaning more talent could potentially be available to other tech firms and teams.
As yet, we haven’t seen any evidence of a slowdown in hiring among smaller employers. Our experience of the market is that there remains intense demand and competition for tech talent to drive digital transformation, customer-centricity and innovation, especially for roles such as software developers, data analysts and cyber security specialists.
In the UK, for example, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the tech sector increased its employment by 56,000 in the second quarter of 2022 – one of the biggest quarterly rises in recent years.
Our preliminary research shows that many sectors intend to expand their tech teams over the next 12 months, with retail, education, healthcare and technology leading the charge.
But it remains to be seen how this will continue to play out as inflation, salaries and running costs rise for businesses across most developed economies.
Six tips for success
So, in such a challenging time, how can employers maximise their chances of securing the talent they need? Here are six key tips based on our experience of working with clients and candidates in today’s fiercely competitive market:
Focus on your culture. Money matters – but, increasingly, other factors are critical to candidates too. Post-pandemic, a flexible working model is a key issue for many people. In a recent LinkedIn survey of over 1,100 people, we found that while 41% of individuals rate salary as important, 56% also prize flexible working, career development and progression opportunities.
Candidates also want to work for a business that has a clear sense of purpose, acts responsibly, embraces inclusivity, and cares about the planet and the ESG agenda. So, make sure you’re clearly communicating what matters to you as a business, your values and your culture. Give candidates a package they can buy into – not just a job title and a salary amount.
Think about how you talk about tech. Shift the narrative in how you talk about roles in technology – this could help to attract talent from a more diverse pool and access more talent from under-represented groups. Often, as an industry, we still speak in technical and remote terms. But technology is actually central to how we live and work today: it’s about creativity and innovation and problem-solving.
We should be saying to young people not “Do you want to learn how to write technical software code?” but “Do you want to be part of solving the world’s problems of tomorrow, today?”
Cast your net wider. Don’t confine yourself to the old geographies. Consider candidates based further afield than you would have done before, due to the new hybrid/remote working model.
Speed up your recruitment and approval processes. This is essential, because market movements are so fast. Often, it’s a case of holding a final interview within a week of the first interview and making an offer as soon as possible thereafter. Success is not guaranteed because the candidate may have had a number of other interviews and we are also frequently seeing existing employers make a counter offer to try to keep hold of their team member. It really is a battle out there!
Look at your balance of permanent vs contract hires. Many clients are looking to increase their use of contractors given that permanent hires are so competitive. Even in slowdowns, the contractor market usually stays resilient. Make sure you are thinking about the full resourcing mix to solve your needs.
Take an “upskilling” approach. Make sure you are not ruling out people who have the potential to succeed with a little on-the-job guidance and support. Don’t get hung up on whether a candidate ticks absolutely every box. It’s a case of taking a long-term view based on someone’s potential and their cultural fit. Upskilling is also a big theme internally.
In fact, our Digital leadership survey finds that over half of digital leaders have increased the amount of cross-training and upskilling for their staff. This makes sense. Investing in and developing your own people builds engagement, loyalty and career fulfilment.
There are longer-term measures to think about too, such as creating apprenticeships and forming partnerships or connections with colleges and universities in the local community. But for an immediate lift to your recruitment success, think about how you can apply these six key lessons to your business today.
Andy Heyes is MD at Harvey Nash, part of Nash Squared