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Why you can’t hire your way out of a tech talent drought

Companies are struggling to hire and retain the experienced tech talent they need to compete. Adopting modern digital best practices can help.

But you can create a modern digital ecosystem to build your way out.

It is no secret that companies are finding it difficult to hire and retain the kind of experienced tech talent they need to compete in a global marketplace. However, dazzling prospective employees with dollar signs may not be the answer. We’ll explain why relying solely on attractive salaries and benefits is not the way to create and maintain the pool of talent you need to succeed.

Where is all the tech talent?

Recruiters in almost every industry are battling to hire qualified tech workers. There are many reasons for this mismatch between supply and demand in the technological skills market, but most boil down to the fact that new technologies are disrupting all industries — not only the traditionally tech-based ones.

For example, cloud services, artificial intelligence and data analytics are now pivotal technologies across a swathe of sectors. This means that technology skills are no longer confined to the IT department, but dispersed across the organisation. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue, turning what were digital ambitions into digital necessities and putting immense pressure on HR departments to reconfigure the skills their organisations need to survive and thrive.

This means that everyone is looking for skilled workers, and advances in digital technology suggest that the situation is not going to improve anytime soon. A recent report from Korn Ferry predicts that by 2030, more than 85 million positions could be left vacant due to a lack of sufficient skilled people to fill them. It is true that the need for skilled tech workers is pressing, but many organisations are sabotaging their efforts to meet that need by:

  • Relying purely on monetary incentives to attract talent
  • Underinvesting in their internal talent
  • Failing to identify their skill requirements accurately
  • Not engaging with the right kind of talent

Why can’t I just buy the talent I need?

Many companies are dealing with their tech talent shortage by throwing money at the problem, vying with their rivals to present the most enticing compensation packages to attract suitably qualified candidates. This is not a sustainable approach for most organisations in the long term — and even for companies with the resources to offer irresistible packages indefinitely, it doesn’t create the kind of talent infrastructure they need to ensure maintainable, scalable growth into the future.

Candidates are not just interested in money. A generous compensation package is obviously important, but a popular tech stack and flexible work practices are other deciding factors among tech professionals considering a new position. People weighing up alternative job possibilities tend to look beyond financial incentives when imagining what it would be like to work at a different company, so the draw must be more than monetary.

You could choose to bring in the talent you need for specific projects instead, but that approach does not encourage a sustainable, scalable model for growth, either for your organisation or for your people. You end up throwing disparate skill sets at a project to solve a specific problem, rather than building the kind of talent infrastructure you need to plan for the future.

It takes more than simply introducing new talent to ensure your company’s digital future; you need to create a culture that encourages people to work together as a team, take ownership of their work and see their long-term future in your organisation. You need to own the talent roadmap in your organisation with an attractive tech stack and ways of working. Otherwise, you end up devoting unnecessary time and money to recruitment efforts that never seem to pay off because staff never stay long enough to justify them.

Remember, your rivals are also working to achieve the competitive edge that true digital transformation brings: A genuinely digital-first company employs the best digital talent, so when you build an enviable talent infrastructure you are filling not just your skills gap but your technology gap too.

What is the answer?

The solution to the tech talent crisis lies in encoding rather than importing: Your organisation needs to embrace a culture of digital best practice with which all of your functions align.

The immediate benefit of this is that your existing talent immediately becomes more productive because you are eliminating silos. Teams align around business KPIs rather than technologies, encouraging greater reuse and avoiding duplication of effort. This approach enables true commercial agility, allowing small, streamlined operations powered by innovative ideas to overtake established behemoths.

The use of microservices exemplifies the streamlined corporate model that distinguishes digitally capable companies. Microservices are self-contained pieces of business functionality that work together to create a modularised overall architecture. This makes cross-team collaboration easier and encourages the construction of change-enabling platforms from reusable components. Efficiency and collaboration are paramount, ensuring the tech talent you have is optimised.

To attract that talent in the first place, you need to look at your tech stack. Any developer considering an alternative to their current employment will look closely at the tools and technologies they could be using elsewhere. No developer wants to work for a company that relies on outdated technology. In a 2020 survey , 70% of developers cited languages, frameworks and other technologies as a significant deciding factor when considering the relative benefits of one job over another.

Attract the best talent with modern tech, and you will also further enhance your company’s efficiency and organisational health. For example, harnessing React Native makes a full cross-platform (iOS/Android/web) approach accessible for most organisations, cutting total cost of ownership and time to market, while also demonstrating that yours is the kind of outfit that values cutting-edge technology.

Nobody is suggesting that modernising your organisation’s technological ecosystem is something you can do with the flick of a switch: It takes time to change systems and practices that may have been in place for years. Engaging with an external partner to introduce new technology via a lighthouse project is a practical, low-risk way to generate positive results quickly. This kind of early success will give you the kickstart you need to build the kind of modern tech platform that attracts talent.

Flexible work practices are another draw for tech talent in search of opportunities. Companies with remote-first cultures embrace this kind of flexibility, understanding the benefits of having team members in different time zones work collaboratively while managing their own personal work-life balance. Operating as a fully remote entity also opens up immediate access to a global pool of talent, unrestricted by geography.

Where to next?

Nobody is suggesting organisations that have always relied on the more traditional methods of recruitment can simply switch on a culture of digital capability overnight. Adopting a culture of digital best practice based on popular modern tech stacks and ways of working takes time and expertise.

NearForm builds the kind of digital capabilities that facilitate continuous innovation and rapid, independent scaling. With our help, organisations develop the structures they need to enable ongoing success after we leave. By encoding digital best practices, we ensure that companies avoid hiring expensive, divergent skill sets but learn how to build their own happy, productive tech teams.

Insight, imagination and expertly engineered solutions to accelerate and sustain progress.