Tech Talent Shortage? Not With This IT Hiring Strategy

By: Janie Kliever on August 22nd, 2016

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Tech Talent Shortage? Not With This IT Hiring Strategy

tech talent shortage

Highly qualified tech talent is the holy grail of IT staffing—everyone wants it, but it’s hard to find (or even know where to start looking).

Sure, recruiters or hiring managers can look for contractors on freelancing websites, but the quality and skill level you find on these kinds of platforms is hit-and-miss since there’s no barrier to entry or vetting process.

It doesn’t help that we’re in the middle of a global tech skills shortage—the largest since the Great Recession. In May 2016, Harvey Nash and KPMG published a survey of over 3,300 CIOs in 82 countries. A majority of the CIOs (65%) had a major concern:

“They believe a lack of talent will prevent their organization from keeping up with the pace of change.”


What’s contributing to the shortage of tech professionals?

“But I thought tech was a hot career path right now,” you might say. Even so, the industry can’t keep up. Why?

Universities can’t pump out qualified candidates fast enough. Michael Rosenbaum, the founder of Catalyst DevWorks and a collaborator on the TechHire White House initiative, points out that “the number of [computer science] majors from Stanford, MIT, and Georgia Tech isn't going to magically increase.”

In fact, he points to a report from Gartner, an IT-focused research firm, that projects 1.4 million computer specialist job openings in the U.S. alone by 2020—creating a talent shortage that universities won’t be able to fill by even 30%.

unfilled tech jobs

And the U.S. tech sector is already well on its way to that number. As of 2015, the job market had over half a million openings in information technology, the largest number of any occupation category. To address this shortage, the White House launched the TechHire initiative to build new talent pipelines and training opportunities in technology-focused industries.

The pace of technological change keeps racing along. More and more businesses rely on technology for everyday operations and to stay competitive in their industries. Increasingly, companies rely on technology to drive growth—and they need quality tech talent to do it. It amounts to a simple case of demand outweighing supply.

IT professionals have more choices. As a result of this demand, tech workers can be more choosy in their employment, holding out for a job with a top company or looking for perks like remote or flexible work options. Randstad’s 2016 Information Technology Workplace Trends Guide indicates that retention of qualified talent was one of the top three threats to business performance, according to the IT hiring managers surveyed.


The solution? Broaden the search for IT talent

No, the tech industry isn’t doomed. Businesses that are feeling the shortage just need to shift their perspective—broaden their horizons, quite literally. There’s a whole pool of highly qualified candidates ripe for the picking. They just may not be located within a 20-mile radius of your headquarters.

To be clear, we’re not talking about outsourcing. Even though the Harvey Nash/KPMG survey indicated that outsourcing is on the rise in tech, with half of the CIOs surveyed planning to increase their investment in outsourcing this year, you likely already know that it’s not the best solution.

Among the many unknowns of outsourcing, you may end up with offshore contractors you’ve never met, whom you don’t personally manage, working for minimal wages—and thus producing minimal quality work.

What we are talking about is a globally sourced team of highly skilled tech talent. Why might you opt for this alternative approach to IT staffing?

Location is limiting. Restricting your search for talent to a certain city (or even region) seriously limits your opportunities to find qualified candidates. In fact, a study about the IT workforce from CEB found that there are only five skilled candidates for every eight open IT jobs—and that’s in tech hubs like New York, Seattle, Houston, and Atlanta. So focusing your talent search in areas where you think qualified people tend to congregate is no longer a smart hiring strategy.

tech skills shortage

Workers want flexibility. The same fast pace of technology that contributed to the tech talent shortage in the first place has also created the tools that make location-independent teamwork possible. From online collaboration and project management tools to virtual meeting apps, teams have the resources they need to work together from anywhere.

Furthermore, Millennials have embraced flexible work options—and they are now the largest workforce demographic. These digital natives see no problem with working from home, a coffee shop, or a co-working space—using the tech tools they grew up with to maximize their productivity and connect with co-workers.

But they aren’t the only ones who crave work–life balance that the traditional 9-to-5 grind just doesn’t deliver. Randstad’s IT trends guide points out that in the IT industry as a whole, workplace flexibility is the biggest contributor to happiness at work (second only to a promotion). So creating flexible work opportunities is a win for everyone: happier team members equal more productivity and better results.

workplace flexibility

The contingent and freelance workforce is booming. Non-traditional work arrangements like freelancing and contract work are on the rise worldwide. As Anders Juul Nielsen points out at Freelancer Worldwide, “Freelancers are not unemployed; they are highly skilled. It might once have been true that those who were unemployed also were those who tried out freelancing. Today, this is far from the case.”

So instead of being made up of inexperienced workers or those who can’t hold down a job, this population is highly skilled. Given the growth in this area, it’s likely that the candidates at the level of talent you’re looking for are already freelancing or looking for a position that offers that kind of flexibility.


Where to start your global talent search

With one in ten CIOs at smaller organizations relying on contingent staff to fill more than 75% of their team (Harvey Nash/KPMG), today’s global tech leaders clearly rely on contractors and freelancers to fill important roles in their companies.

So why risk your time, funding, and outcomes on an outsourced team that’s out of your control and may not deliver the kind of results you’re looking for?

There’s a better solution. If you’re looking to build out a top-notch tech team, don’t overlook the value of expanding your search. Crossover can help you get started, narrowing down your selection of candidates to the top 1% of job seekers worldwide.

The result? You get a team of highly skilled, extensively vetted and tested talent, plus complete access to their progress and productivity—whether they’re located in San Francisco, Stockholm, or São Paulo. 

Ready to get started? Get in touch today to learn more about Crossover and how you can build a better tech team:

I want top tech talent