The race is on for tech talent. 88% of business leaders say acquiring and retaining talent is more important to the business now than it was 18 months ago, according to our research for The Talent Trap. Demand for software developers alone outweighs supply by 10 times.
With the pandemic having changed the way we work and employees wanting more from their jobs, investment in HR and talent tech is at an all-time high, as companies search for the best strategies and tools to keep the talent flowing in.
In these conditions, exploring untapped pools is crucial. In this article, we explore the challenges of sourcing diverse candidates in this market, and some of the approaches companies and their talent teams can take to widen the talent pipeline and find diverse candidates to fill technology roles.
Hire for potential, train for skills
For a long time, the talent market has played a zero-sum game – companies poaching top performers from each other, enticing candidates with ever higher salaries.
As a result, retention has taken a nosedive. The technology sector’s turnover rate sits at 13.2%, well above the industry average of 10.5%. Meanwhile, 55% of businesses report experiencing higher staff turnover in 2022.
This means that the finite talent pool is getting smaller and less diverse, meaning fewer opportunities for candidates to enter the market, and fewer candidates for companies to hire.
To solve this tech talent pipeline problem, you need to focus on widening the top of the funnel and creating your own talent pools, rather than competing for the same people with everyone else.
Tech’s focus has traditionally been directed toward a candidate’s years of experience and technical skills, but in our research, 80% of people leaders said that a focus on skills more than mindset in recruitment risked being a limiting factor in their recruitment. That’s because the best way to widen your talent pipeline is to think in terms of potential.
This means being flexible with your experience requirements, partnering with coding or engineering bootcamps, taking advantage of government programmes to help skilled workers migrate to your location, and starting mentoring and outreach campaigns.
Not only does this widen the top of the funnel with a more diverse range of candidates, but also allows you to tailor your approach.
Instead of just seeing what candidates come to you, you can shape and define the sort of people and skills you’re looking for to make your hiring process more efficient. It also helps improve employee retention. If you actively reach out to and engage with potential candidates, you can support any training they might need and help them to build a network they previously might not have had access to – an opportunity for growth, rather than just another job.
Rethinking tech skills
As well as looking for potential, talent teams also need to broaden their perception of what skills they really need for technical hires.
The increased use of AI and automation means that employees need more than just technical skills to perform effectively. Skills such as communication, creativity, leadership, empathy, decision-making and critical thinking are perhaps more important than ever.
These “soft skills” have traditionally been thought of as secondary to technical fluency, but they are just as critical in delivering lasting business value. Indeed, the employees who do best in managerial and leadership positions are often those adept at such skills.
So talent teams need to think in terms of skills, but in a broad sense. By thinking of potential talent in a more holistic way, you get a better insight into an individual’s entire skillset, rather than just a narrow focus on their technical prowess and years of experience – a candidate is a human being, not a job description. To widen and diversify the talent pipeline, modern talent teams need to find ways to better attract, hire and cultivate both technical skills and these social, emotional skills.
Understanding the tech talent pipeline with data
Of course, to make the right decisions about talent, and design and deploy the right strategies, you need the right data.
The problem is that companies often don’t have a clear awareness of what talent and skills they really need to help their business grow. This is partly due to a lack of common definitions and terminology. However, even once those are defined, businesses need methods to track the skills within their organization and create development paths.
This starts with setting well-defined hiring principles that are visible to the whole business so you can make fair, coherent decisions about candidates. This information then needs to be centralized on a talent platform that enables you to collect and monitor data throughout the talent lifecycle – from application to appraisals to exit.
Mapping the flow of skills in and out of your business helps you make more informed decisions about where your skill gaps are and where you should focus your hiring efforts.
Better talent analytics enable a data-driven approach to recruitment, and career pathways that deviate from the norm. By tracking your candidates through a centralized platform, you can create your own unique talent pipeline, and keep track of the data as candidates flow through it, it makes it easier to acquire and nurture talent in more flexible ways.
Tapping untapped talent
Tech talent is the hottest commodity on the market right now, but playing the same game as everyone else will result in higher costs, candidate compromise and stress. You need a bolder, more competitive strategy.
Now is the time to proactively create and nurture your own talent pool, based on the skills that actually bring lasting value to the business.
Data is a key partner for talent teams to keep acquisition efforts informed and equitable. Beamery’s talent platform gives you the insights, functionality and visibility you need to create a more diverse, passionate and sustainable workforce.