As we reported in this blog last month, recruitment in the tech sector has suffered less disruption than most through the COVID-19 pandemic to date.
But that, of course, does not mean firms are having it all their own way when it comes to finding and hiring the right tech talent. Long before COVID-19, IT and digital recruitment was facing a number of challenges.
The turmoil in economies and markets caused by the pandemic is only likely to exaggerate those issues, certainly in the short term and perhaps for even longer.
Looking forward to the next 12 to 24 months, here are some of the key challenges that are likely to arise in tech recruitment, and what organisations can begin to do to address them.
Demand for tech talent will intensify
The tech sector was already facing a well-documented shortage in tech talent before COVID-19. KPMG’s CIO Survey 2019 found that more than six in 10 IT decision makers felt difficulties hiring the right staff were harming the industry. At the same time, 44% said that digital disruption was likely to trigger significant changes in their business model or product/service offerings over the next three years. That would drive further demand for the right mix of tech skills to achieve those changes.
We can expect this process to accelerate significantly in the wake of COVID-19. Lockdown measures have created a new reliance on digital, from soaring ecommerce trade to platforms that support remote working. With physical distancing measures likely to be in place for some time to come, there is already a race on to source the right tech talent to deliver these new systems.
For example, over February and March, advertised positions for cybersecurity engineers rose 20%, and posts for systems engineers by 11%, as firms responded to the increased security risks posed by remote working. On the other hand, PwC points out that the need to bolster and increase digital sales and marketing assets is likely to boost demand for developers and software engineers.
Speeding up recruitment
With competition for available tech talent only likely to increase in the months ahead, firms need to position themselves to act fast to get the pick of what’s available. More than half of senior IT professionals believed lengthy recruitment processes made it difficult to secure the best people before the COVID-19 crisis. In such volatile times when the ability to react to change fast becomes so critical, this becomes a key issue for recruiters to focus on.
This is not just a case of potentially losing out to more agile firms who can offer a candidate a contract in half the time you can. It is about having people in place asap to start making a difference. Ways to speed up recruitment processes include developing a structured talent pipeline to getting the most out of data to identify the most likely candidates, optimising your job advertisements and cutting all the fat you can from your interview and assessment processes.
Keeping all the plates spinning
The combination of needing to hire more people with specific in-demand tech skills and doing so at speed puts a lot of pressure on recruiters. HR departments may well find that they are charged with hiring for two or three times the number of tech positions they are used to in the aftermath of COVID-19, with top-down pressure to make the appointments quickly.
When you are dealing with positions where there is already a squeeze on the supply of available talent, matching the demands of speed and efficiency with quality hires can become a difficult juggling act.
Streamlining and optimising processes as described above will of course help. Embracing new technology such as AI will help to automate some of the more time and labour-intensive aspects of recruitment, freeing HR personnel up to focus on the critical decision-making aspects.
Easing the burden will also give recruiters more space to be creative and think outside the box about how they can fulfil their company’s requirements within the timeframe required. This might, for example, include looking beyond the typical talent pool. Following all the disruption caused by the pandemic, the labour market is likely to become a much more fluid and crowded place in months to come, as firms restructure and redundancies take their toll. Talent is likely to be available, just not necessarily where you are used to looking for it.