Hiring managers are struggling to fill the talent gap in the IT industry, and it’s holding companies back. A 2021 report by Gartner showed that IT executives see a lack of available talent as the biggest obstacle to implementing critical technologies like cybersecurity and network infrastructure.
But the layoffs sweeping tech are an opportunity to take in top talent with the expertise to implement these systems. Big-name tech companies have accounted for the largest chunk of layoffs in tech, and they’re still shedding workers.
Many of these workers are taking jobs in finance, healthcare, or manufacturing, and the demand for tech professionals has now become larger outside the tech industry than inside it, according to a report by Bain & Company. Even the aloof NSA is on the hunt for technology expertise, reaching out over social media in its campaign to hire 3000 new workers.
Companies that want to take advantage of the layoff-heavy moment should keep in mind that top talent prefers an environment with leading-edge tools, a robust goal-setting structure, and a clear path up the organization’s hierarchy. These may be harder for smaller companies to offer, but smaller outfits can offer purpose and value—both big predictors of talent retention—when they give top talent the chance to implement new structures and practices. This justifies the investment in top talent by cutting costs and making the organization more competitive.
Flexibility, a Strong Framework, and Room to Grow Are Key Attractors for Top Talent
Talented tech workers are accustomed to an environment where expectations and goals are clear and they have the flexibility to complete projects in the way that works best for them as individuals.
“As much as we like to think of the Metas, the Amazons, and the Googles of the world as doing these innovative, out-of-the-box things, they function at the project level in very structured ways,” says Allyn Bailey, executive director of hiring success at SmartRecruiters. This structure means “an expectation that there are design principles and QAs in place that you may not see when you’re being scrappy.”
Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, CEO of hybrid work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts, said that “besides salary, the next most important demand from talent is flexibility: offering remote or mostly-remote work is key to attracting talent at lower costs.”
Star talent is used to remote-centered working arrangements and cross-pollination of teams along with up-to-date tools and methodologies.
At top tech companies, “There is an expectation that if you are able to articulate how your skills can translate from one type of work to another type of work, it’s a given that you can work in that space,” said Bailey. “At companies that are smaller, maybe working in more discrete groups that don’t collaborate in the same way, the ability to advance your career or cross-pollinate your skills doesn’t necessarily exist.”
Smaller companies have to leverage their organization’s values and whatever new skills they can offer to attract top talent. Top talent will ask, “How does your company show up to its community? How does it articulate itself in terms of its values?” Bailey said.
What to Consider When You’re Pitching Management to Start Hiring
Hiring managers considering onboarding new talent must always consider financial factors, including “the current economic climate, market conditions, and the overall health of the company with a focus on its competitors and the context of its industry,” wrote Dr. Tsipursky. Determining the type of talent that drives growth the most in a specific industry and weighing its cost against its competitive value is key, he explained.
The highest return on investing in top talent happens during the transition from the startup phase to a mature organization. It’s mutually beneficial for top talent to run the implementation of a new system—companies get to introduce high standards that top talent is used to, and talented hires feel valuable and influential.
“Where it can go wrong very quickly is when you bring in individuals with this assumption that ‘I’m here to fix things,’” cautioned Bailey. New hires who are critical of the current structure without being constructive tend to leave quickly and make other employees feel undervalued.
Reaching out to top talent requires a proactive approach unrestricted by where employees are based and the ability to express what kind of talent a company wants in a way that top talent will understand.
“Spend your time really understanding how jobs are articulated in the places where you’re trying to get talent from,” said Bailey. “Maybe they use the same words, but they don’t connect to the same thing.”