THE WAR FOR TALENT
No Bullets Fired But Ammunition Required.
Written By Jack Pearce
If you’re in technology recruitment, you’ll be well aware of the talent shortage we are experiencing. Those with the specific and specialist skill-sets are on scarily high day-rates – why? Because candidates are driving the market, and fair effing play to them for knowing their worth, but it’s created a ‘war for talent’, for want of a better phrase.
I’m no expert, but if “Tech Talks” has taught me anything it is that we need to be pushing our focus more towards these areas:
HIRE ON POTENTIAL/CULTURAL FIT
Sometimes an interview will go really well, the candidate and interviewer click, the second interview features 2 thumbs up from your colleagues and peers, the third even sees directorial approval. It’s all going well. But then, something competency/proficiency focussed goes awry, an issue that may not affect the role but is a barrier to hiring the candidate.
Barriers get in the way, right? Well, in today’s climate, barriers are being broken daily, just think of the hashtag movements that we are seeing affecting true change right now. So, let me just say, the ‘breaking down barriers business’ is booming. If your reasoning for wanting the candidate is strong and outweighs the issue that has led to a marginally under-par interview, then follow your gut – hire them on potential, not just because they slipped up slightly, somewhere.
An ounce more wriggle room in the job description’s ‘desirables and requirables’ is necessary. If the the candidate has shown potential if they’ve fallen bang in line with your company’s values, or even if they possess that ‘je ne sais qoi’, you should give them a chance.
Hiring on potential is becoming more commonplace. Can the skill-set be taught? More often than not, it can. So, invest in the person and let them learn on the job. It also goes a long way in achieving high employee retention, trust from the outset will speak volumes to a candidate.
LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Ah, you’ll see a theme is developing here. Similar to my previous point, and especially with regards to assessing a candidate, why can’t we lower our expectations a wee bit?
Veering off topic without any fear, there’s a great clip from Bo Burnham’s stand-up (on Netflix!) about lowering expectations when trying to find love. In essence, we all sometimes need to be more realistic and open our eyes to the fact that the perfect person; whether you’re looking for eternal love or for an interim Java developer, let’s lower our expectations. After all, the person will grow, learn and develop – I know I have in my role over the last 3 years, and I definitely have in my relationship… well actually… you best check that with my girlfriend.
ENSURE YOUR SOURCING STRATEGY IS INCLUSIVE
You might not know it, but your company’s tone of voice (think of publications, job adverts, LinkedIn / social media posts etc.) and language could be off-putting to a large pool of candidates and as such result in fewer applicants.
Now, I have an issue with assuming that a word like ‘driven’ would put a woman off, but studies show (I’m not in the business of proving myself but see research by Textio) that there are male-centric words that appeal to only the Jordan Belfort’s of the world.
Textio is an amazing suite that will tell you if your language is male-focussed or not inclusive; if you’re only getting young men to apply for your jobs then you’re only getting a small portion of possible candidates apply – eradicate the language and cast a wider net; the talent is there, you might just be going to wrong way to find them.
So; re-read your adverts back over and over, get the opinion from a diverse focus group and put yourselves in a candidate’s shoes; do they really want to join a ‘fast-paced company that rewards hard work’? No, because that sounds like every business in the 90s. They’d rather join ‘a company that encourages development, growing alongside your progression.’
‘Language’, said the budding writer, ‘is as powerful as the sword’… wait that’s not how that saying
LOOK TO THE FUTURE – AUTOMATION CAN CLOSE THE SKILLS GAP, NOT TAKE AWAY JOBS
Sorry to plug Tech Talks again (not sorry at all actually, go listen to it ASAP), but it has taught me that technology is not taking jobs away, in fact, it’s creating more. As such, automation and machine learning can actually close the skills gap, not widen it, and end this war for talent.
It’s a bit more ‘blue sky thinking’ and definitely a longer-term goal, but apprenticeships and outreach into education can go a long way to closing the gap and benefit your business. If you hire an apprentice, relevant stakeholders and staff can spread their mentoring wings and teach young people the relevant skills needed to succeed, giving them the opportunity to earn whilst they learn.
Apprentices are trained in relevant and modern technology, so there is no time for it to become obsolete between education and starting work.
If you want to go even further, you can start a school outreach programme; to influence the minds of tomorrow, today (potentially the cheesiest line ever). Companies that engage with school children to help increase the pipeline of talent entering science, technology, engineering, arts and maths (STEAM) careers. Wait hold on Jack, I hear you cry, it’s STEM not STEAM. I counter your point; arts are incredibly important to technology, creativity is huge especially with regards to design and problem-solving.
Time permitting, you can offer work experience, attend careers events and host workshops or tours. This gives young people, aka the future, the opportunity to gain insight into what a career at your company is truly like.
GET ON WITH IT!
So, hire on potential, lower your expectations, ensure inclusivity and look to the future. Easy, no? Let’s dispel this war for talent and arm ourselves with innovative approaches in order to recruit talent.