For the past several years, technical recruiting has been defined by an extreme talent shortage, one in which the unemployment rate for tech professionals dipped below two percent in 2019. Such fierce competition meant that convincing these coveted workers to make a job change often required hefty pay raises.
Now, as every industry responds to the economic fallout associated with the global coronavirus pandemic, tech recruiters are left wondering if they will now benefit from a more level playing field due to layoffs combined with decreased demand. However, while we can expect additional layoffs within the tech sector, there are early signs that any declines in demand may be far less than those seen in other industries.
More specifically, the Dice Q1 2020 Tech Job Report finds “that the initial impact is less severe in tech than other industries, even as COVID-19 fundamentally changes day-to-day life across the country.” In fact, some tech workers will even experience an increase in available opportunities. Digging deeper into Dice’s analysis of job postings between February and March, the report reveals a strong uptick in cybersecurity engineer and systems engineer postings—reflective of the growing need for network and computer infrastructure maintenance and security as large swaths of the workforce went virtual.
Further, according to a recent analysis by Glassdoor of job openings through April 27, tech “may be one of the first industries turning the corner, with job openings up 4.9% from April 13 to April 27 as spending shifts online.” This is attributable to the recent spike in demand for online services alongside the emergence of one of the most mobile workforce segments.
At the same time, while IT worker demand appears to be rebounding more quickly than anticipated, it’s unlikely that recruiting them will be business as usual. For one thing, prospective candidates will be far less willing to make a change in an uncertain world. And, among those who are willing to change, tech recruiters should anticipate that prospective candidates will be far more demanding about the option to work remotely now that companies have been forced to operate with most—if not all—of their teams working from home since March.
Given the continually evolving recruiting landscape, here are three things talent acquisition teams can do to ensure success as they prepare for increased tech hiring activity.
#1. Update your recruitment marketing messaging.
The messaging you used yesterday to capture the attention of tech candidates isn’t likely to resonate today, so take a step back and audit the employer brand themes that your organization was using as the basis for recruitment marketing communications aimed at tech talent. What still rings true? What’s different? For some, it may be a matter of simply shifting the thematic emphasis while others will find that more extensive changes are required—your audit can lead you to a clear understanding of both the challenges and opportunities as related to your messaging. Once this exercise is complete, you’ll be able to update communications accordingly.
One thing to keep in regarding communications during the COVID-19 crisis is the importance of being as transparent as possible. At minimum, you should update your careers home page to include a highly visible message detailing how the global pandemic has impacted hiring at your organization, as well as what the company is doing in response. Assess other key areas where candidates are likely to go for information as they decide whether to apply, such as a dedicated tech recruiting page, an applicant FAQs page or your company’s LinkedIn page.
#2. Improve your hiring process.
Having an efficient and effective hiring process in place is critical to securing top tech talent, especially in our current environment as this signals organizational stability and hiring commitment. A good place to start in terms of streamlining the overall hiring process is by reducing the number of interviewers involved and getting rid of redundant rounds of interviews. However, you should also focus attention on how your recruiting software can support hiring process improvements.
Your TA tech stack should enable your team to leverage artificial intelligence for better candidate matching results and to automate candidate communications. In this instance, recruiters can dramatically improve accuracy by looking to AI-driven sourcing technology to do the heavy lifting when it comes to matching IT candidates against highly specific job criteria. Once ideal matches are made, automation can be used to immediately notify candidates via email of a match and encourage them to apply (yes, tech pros prefer email over a phone call for initial outreach).
#3. Adapt your target outreach strategies.
With relevant messaging and a streamlined hiring process in place, you can turn your attention to adapting your outreach strategies so they reflect what the current research reveals. For example, we know that tech employment was experiencing weakness just prior to the coronavirus pandemic. As reported by The New York Times, between November 2019 and February 2020, “more than 30 start-ups have slashed more than 8,000 jobs” globally.
Enterprise recruiting teams can benefit from the instability currently associated with startups as many of these tech workers may be ready to trade in the allure and appeal of a startup for the strength and stability of larger tech organizations. Put together a target list of the most promising startup talent and begin outreach and engagement activities tailored to the needs of this unique audience.
It also makes sense to begin building relationships with out-of-market IT professionals. Based on our new world of virtual work, most companies now realize they will have to accommodate remote working for the remainder of 2021, if not indefinitely. Those that don’t relax their telecommuting policies permanently will risk losing tech talent that has experienced firsthand the many benefits associated with working remotely. Organizations that do make these changes permanent will be able to recruit from cities and regions that previously weren’t an option—and land top talent in the process.
Tech recruiters may be experiencing a brief lull in activity, yet the return to an ultra-competitive environment may be just around the corner. It’s the talent acquisition teams that take time now to adapt their hiring approaches to the evolving demands of tech recruiting that will be well positioned to hire the best workers—and support a strong business recovery.
Get additional insights on these topics in our latest brief, COVID-19’s Impact on Tech Recruiting, and visit our Resources library for more #GR8Thinking on how talent acquisition can overcome today’s challenges.