2021 was a booming year for technical recruiting: more companies recognized that technical talent is essential for success, and that they needed technical recruiters to help them scale their teams effectively. Data People found that there were 81% more tech jobs advertised than in 2019, and LinkedIn reported that 7x more recruiter jobs posted year-over-year. Even in the best markets, finding top talent with specific qualifications and assessing culture fit, all within budget constraints, is a high ask. But, this year is a different story — with rising inflation and a potential recession on the horizon, technical recruiters have even more obstacles to overcome. Will there still be demand for technical recruiters amidst these new challenges? How can technical recruiters stay competitive in these changing economic times?
Challenges for Technical Recruiters in 2022
Widespread Tech Layoffs
Already in 2022, over 37,000 employees in the tech sector have been laid off, and many organizations are instituting hiring freezes through the end of the year. As reported by Crunchbase, companies cite “inflation concerns, geopolitical issues, and over-hiring during periods of rapid growth” for the hiring slowdown, which is a worrying sign for technical recruiters. When COVID-19 brought the world to a halt in 2020, recruiting was hit the hardest by hiring freezes, as companies focused on survival rather than growth. This time around, it is unlikely to be as dramatic, especially for technical recruiters — EY’s Chief Technology Officer Nicola Morini Bianzino acknowledged to CNBC that tech hiring will slow down, but noted that “people with AI, data, Web3 and cloud architecture skills will continue to find opportunities,” because they can take “companies to the next level.”
Increased Competition for Top Talent
Business leaders have the foresight to see that tech talent is key to driving growth, even in slower periods. That’s why, despite bouts of layoffs, tech workers are “being snapped up in weeks” (CNBC). Demand for this talent is still high, but hard to find, with 64% of tech leaders saying it's getting harder or significantly harder to find skilled workers, according to a CNBC survey. When it does become available, recruiters are quick to strike — making it challenging to stay ahead of the curve.
High Salary Demands
Increasing salary demands from tech talent adds fuel to the fire. The tight labor market plus greater job mobility in the wake of the "Great Resignation" have raised the bar for tech salaries. Throw in rising inflation and you have a remarkable challenge for technical recruiters: Work within tightening corporate budgets while also paying high premiums for talent.
How to Stay Competitive as a Technical Recruiter
Even with these challenges, there are opportunities for technical recruiters to gain a competitive edge, and hire top talent.
1. Go from Reactivity to Proactivity
Rather than waiting for the applications to roll in, start actively searching for and reaching out to qualified candidates. Consider doing continuous outreach to create groups of candidates based on their skills and backgrounds. When relevant jobs become available, you’ll be able to present options faster, which will be a key advantage in this hot labor market.
2. Broaden Hiring Channels and Specialize Based on Roles
Through diversifying outside of their current tool’s and using platforms specialized in recruitment for technical roles, recruiters have the opportunity to stay ahead of the competition. Specialized recruitment platforms allow recruiters the ability to hire faster and more effectively.
Likewise, opening up opportunities to remote workers can increase both diversity and quantity of potential candidates (Forbes). The larger technical recruiting industry is getting on board: In a report by CoderPad and CodinGame, 57% of recruiters are open to removing the CV from the recruitment process, while 40% are hiring internationally for roles in other countries.
Some of our favorite non-traditional platforms include:
Types of roles
Data scientists and data analysts
DataCamp Recruit specializes in top data talent. You are able to see candidate skills profiles, to assess their expertise across data skills to find the right person for your team’s needs.
University job boards and student societies
Junior or entry level talent
Many colleges and universities have their own job boards, which are great places to publish entry-level jobs. Connect with career centers or relevant student societies to find opportunities to attend or participate in events.
Developers and software engineers
Specializing in remote software engineers, Turing uses AI to make sourcing top talent easy.
Developers and software engineers
A platform for developers, GitHub has an active community with highly-qualified talent. You can see their complete tech stack and projects to determine if they fit with your organization or clients.
Developers, software engineers, and data scientists
A public platform for finding answers to technical questions, peruse the forums on Stack Overflow to find people who answer often and accurately — these are people with deep expertise who know how to solve complex problems.
3. Look at Internal Talent
Are there superstars on your team who are ready to grow into a new role, or looking to take on a more technical challenge? Employee Benefit News (EBN) reports that it costs employers 33% of a worker's annual salary to hire a replacement — if there are opportunities to hire or upskill internally, it can help to reduce that cost. Upskilling is also key to retaining top talent. According to a McKinsey study, 41% of survey respondents cited “lack of career advancement and development” as a top reason for quitting their jobs. Empowering employees on their career trajectories is one reason why over 2,500 companies have worked with DataCamp to upskill their teams in data science. To confirm they are job ready, employees can go through certification programs for specific skills or tech tools. Hiring from within offers an affordable and sustainable option for scaling up your team.
4. Refresh Hiring Processes
With competition high, don’t risk losing top talent due to miscommunication or misrepresentation during the hiring process. Set up clear and equitable processes in advance, and make sure all stakeholders are onboard before bringing candidates into the equation. If the process is confusing or disorganized, it may turn candidates away.
First, make a good first impression with your job descriptions. These are literally advertisements for the role, and should be approached with a sales perspective. Frame job posts around the impact the candidate will make in the role and how their professional development will be nurtured in the first month, 6 months, and year on the job. Be clear and upfront about requirements, performance metrics, and salary bands to avoid wasting time on misaligned expectations. Use inclusive language to ensure you aren’t excluding any potential applicants (Forbes).
Second, ensure your interview processes are thoughtful, clear, and consistent. Confirm that all participants are aligned on each stage and updated every step in the way to avoid miscommunication and wasting time. Make the process completely transparent with candidates as well so they can come prepared.
Third, select an assessment that is reasonable and relevant. Many candidates abandon the hiring process early because assessments are too long, do not have a realistic due date, or feel too impersonal (TheTalentBoard.org). Keep assessments to an hour or less and allow it to be done in enough time outside of business hours to complete it. Choose one that gives candidates a glimpse into what they would actually be doing in the role and that allows them to demonstrate their critical thinking skills.
5. Sell the Complete Package
Salary demands have increased, but it is not the only element that candidates look for when they are applying for a role. In addition to inadequate total compensation, McKinsey found that the other top reasons for people quitting their jobs last year include lack of career development and advancement, uncaring and uninspiring leaders, lack of meaningful work, and unsustainable work expectations. Salaries need to be competitive, but the "Great Resignation" also heightened demands for improved work/life balance, strong company cultures, and impact. Technical recruiters should get a sense for what candidates are looking for in their next role so they can highlight the relevant advantages in the final offer. By appealing to their individual interests, technical recruiters may be able to increase the chance of hiring top talent, even with stiff competition.
The Bottom Line
Technical recruiters help drive company success by effectively and sustainably scaling tech teams. They are necessary for long-term growth, but over time the job has become more challenging. By recruiting proactively, broadening hiring channels, looking internally, refreshing current processes, and selling the complete compensation package, technical recruiters will be able to gain a competitive edge and fill vacancies with top talent.
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