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The global IT industry has been dramatically affected by COVID-19 and it’s changing how we source top talent.

With many in-person services shutting down for part of the year and a focus on digital transformation to cope with the virus, IT is one of the few industries still experiencing growth. 

In the last 7 years, even though there have been periods of tempered growthnot to mention a global pandemicthe growth of the industry is still increasing and is expected to continue by roughly 4% as we head into 2021. 

Despite a dip in 2020 as COVID-19 tightened its grip, the technology industry has registered consistent overall growth over the years and this is expected to continue into 2021 (Image Source).

Tech companies are on the lookout for engineers and other experts to fill new roles to support the industry’s projected growth. This may be good news for tech professionals, but it can be hard on recruitment teams. 

The IT Skill Shortage and COVID’s Effects

In 2019, there were 4.2 million unfilled IT positions, primarily in the healthcare, education, manufacturing, and government sectors. A majority of companies identified technology as the key factor in reaching their business objectives, but sourcing tech talent was their biggest concern. 

A 2019 survey spearheaded by Harvey Nash and KPMG revealed that 67% of IT leaders were experiencing hiring challenges as a result of the IT skills shortage, a 12-point increase from 2018. Harvey Nash, president and CEO Bom Miano, commented on the findings in an interview with the Wall Street Journal: “That’s pretty staggering. CIOs may have great ideas but if you can’t get the IT talent, that’s a growing problem.”

With COVID-19, there was a sudden surge of remote working that shaped how the world utilized IT. Since the start of the pandemic, companies have spent roughly $15 billion extra each week on technology to ensure safety and security for remote staff. The focus on safety has left employers hungry for skilled cybersecurity professionals, making it now the most in-demand IT skill globally

The demand for IT talent and technology spend have risen greatly during the pandemic, but technology budgets are under enormous strain. Before COVID-19, 51% of IT leaders planned for a budget increase next year, but now that number is closer to 43%.  

Although the pandemic affected the skill shortage slightly, it remains just below the all-time high. Recruiters and HR professionals can compensate for the shortage by streamlining hiring processes to fill vacancies quickly without compromising on quality. 

Why Long Hiring Processes Are Not Always Useful

“Hire slow, fire fast” is a recruitment strategy with huge payoffs for organizations that implement it. 

While the principle behind this concept is sound, it has a different meaning in industries experiencing a skills shortage. Before the pandemic, a Stack Overflow survey revealed that 76.7% of developers were employed full-time, 10.2% were independent contractors/freelancers/self-employed, and 6.2% were working part-time. So, while the same survey showed that 62% of tech engineers were open for opportunities, that doesn’t mean they were desperate for a new job.

At least 87% of developers are currently working full-time, part-time, or as independent contractors, which poses a huge challenge for IT recruitment (Image Source).

This is even more true in 2020, as U.S. unemployment numbers hit record highs and 70% of Americans feared for their job security. According to data from Janco Associates, 99,400 IT jobs were lost in the U.S. as a direct result of COVID-19. Technology jobs were among the least affected by pandemic unemployment, but it also reinforced fear in employees about seeking new opportunities. Hiring managers now have to do twice the work to source quality IT candidates. 

IT recruiters and hiring managers have to ensure the hiring process is quick and seamless so that gainfully employed talent will consider changing companies. On top of that, tech companies are fighting amongst themselves to snag the top available talent. 

By the time engineers progress to stage 3 of your hiring process, another company might already be offering them a job. To give your company the best competitive advantage, look for ways to cut excess time from your IT hiring process and secure the best talent quickly. 

How Businesses Can Streamline Their Tech Hiring Strategy

Fortunately, by identifying bottlenecks in your hiring process and utilizing available recruitment technologies, you can significantly shorten your hiring time. Here are 4 hiring strategies to consider:

1. Create Concise and Accurate Job Postings

Even in a global pandemic, companies are learning that we need top IT engineers more than they need us. The table has turned—instead of them selling their expertise to you, you need to sell the opportunities you’re offering them

Your job postings serve as your elevator pitch to top engineering talent. Job postings should be able to effectively answer two why’s:

  1. For employed engineers: Why should they consider leaving their current job to join your organization?
  2. For free agents: Why should they invest their time applying for roles in your organization over others?

Job postings also act as a filter. They should attract the right talent and weed out those who aren’t a perfect fit.

Here’s a rundown of the anatomy of a perfect job posting:

  • Use dense, simple information
  • Be straight to the point
  • Have a robust list of qualification requirements
  • State the unique benefits that your company offers
  • List key responsibilities and set expectations for candidates

So, while there’s immense pressure to fill tech roles in your company, don’t take shortcuts. Allocate the time to craft high-quality job postings.

2. Keep Coding Tests Short and Relevant

Coding tests do have a place in the recruitment process, especially if you’re hiring for crucial roles. However, unnecessary coding tests that take hours to complete are a major turn off among engineers.

In a poll conducted by Stack Overflow, one developer said, “Companies that do this are placing an incredible burden on developers with whom they have no previous relationships.” 

Candidates have to find time to complete the skills test and this can be especially cumbersome when juggling a full-time job. 

During the same poll, one recruiter explained, “Asking someone to write working code before they apply for a job won’t help you fully understand how and why they make decisions, what role they’ve played on prior teams, and (most importantly) their problem-solving skills.”

An alternative to coding tests is merging a live interview with a coding test. The recruiter and the candidate hop into a virtual room with a shared screen. The interviewer can give real-life examples and the candidate will write some simple code. This way, the recruiter can assess both the problem-solving capabilities and coding skills of a candidate without the annoying long coding test.

3. Be Aware of Your Hiring Metrics

Another way to streamline your hiring process is to know your numbers and grow your numbers. In other words, the strategic use of data can help you improve your recruitment success.

Here are some key metrics to closely track and identify optimization opportunities in your hiring process:

  • Total number of introductory interviews
  • Number of relationships with potential candidates
  • Aggregate interviewing hours per session
  • Time-to-hire and time-to-capacity

To effectively measure these hiring KPIs, tech companies need to use tools and technologies that give them deep-dive insights on hiring bottlenecks. For instance, time tracking tools that are normally used for measuring employee productivity can also be used to unmask hiring inefficiencies in your organization. Ask your recruiters to use time tracking software to measure the time spent on each stage of the hiring process. Once you have enough data, analyze which stages are taking too long and brainstorm ways to shorten them.

4. Reduce Manual Work With Automation

Digital transformation is no longer a buzzword in business; it’s a necessity. This is especially true given the shift in remote workforces in 2020. Many organizations are replacing in-person and tedious paper processes with virtual solutions. There are many ways automation can help recruiters streamline their processes as well. 

With advances in technology, recruiters can now take advantage of recruitment solutions that offer automated assessments of candidates’ fundamental coding skills, saving valuable time from manual code checking and scoring.

Streamlined Hiring as a Competitive Advantage

Technical talent is one of your company’s greatest assets. Making sure that your business has a steady stream of skilled IT professionals to fill vacant roles is critical to the success of your organization. More than just a simple process improvement, streamlining your company’s hiring gives your organization a significant competitive advantage while saving money and time.

Dean Mathews is the founder and CEO of OnTheClock, an employee time tracking app that helps over 9,000 companies all around the world track time. Dean has over 20 years of experience designing and developing business apps. He views software development as a form of art. If the artist creates a masterpiece, many people’s lives are touched and changed for the better. When he is not perfecting time tracking, Dean enjoys expanding his faith, spending time with family and friends, and finding ways to make the world just a little better.

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