Labor Shortage Solutions: How to Find and Hire Non-Traditional Tech Talent

You have an open IT position within your organization. The job plays a crucial role on the tech team and you need the position filled ASAP. You offer a good salary, great benefits and company perks, and growth opportunities. The only problem? You can’t seem to find a candidate who has the skills and experience required for the job.

Sound familiar? In today’s job market, there’s a high demand for skilled tech professionals. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in computer and information technology occupations is expected to grow 12 percent by 2028, a rate faster than the average for all occupations. However, there are not enough graduates with degrees in subjects like computer science and information technology to keep up with the demand. Furthermore, as businesses turn their focus to cloud computing, big data and information security, demand for IT professionals to fill these specialized roles will also increase. These issues are just two of the many reasons demand for IT professionals will continue to outpace supply and contribute to the tech talent shortage.

For companies to find the talent they need, it’s time to look beyond traditional tech candidates to consider non-traditional talent. Expanding your search and looking outside of the traditional IT talent pipeline can help you find qualified professionals you wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. Your ideal candidate is out there, they just might not be what you expect. Let’s look at three ways you can expand your talent search to find and hire great non-traditional tech talent.

1. Revamp Existing Hiring Practices

To recruit and hire more non-traditional candidates, consider overhauling your organization’s existing hiring strategies. This includes rewriting your current job descriptions. Instead of a list of skills an applicant needs to have for the position, consider the outcomes an employee in the job will be expected to achieve and what abilities they’ll need to be successful. This focus on aptitude over credentials will help you find candidates who can really do the job, despite what might seem like a lack of specific skills on their resume.

Similarly, you can broaden candidate recruitment by implementing skills testing earlier in the application process. Instead of requiring your human resources team to conduct initial phone screens, consider having applicants complete an online test to help qualify their technical abilities. This saves time and resources while allowing you to consider a broader range of candidates based off actual technical aptitude, not a degree or list of programming experience.

Finally, consider adopting inclusivity measures to attract more diverse candidates to your company. Microsoft, for example, trained managers on how to interview non-traditional candidates. These trainings helped break down unconscious biases and stereotypes, so that hiring managers could better understand diverse candidates and offer them options like interview accommodations. The changes and customizations made interviews with non-traditional candidates more successful, and eventually led Microsoft to focus on inclusive hiring practices, including creating a program to help recruit and onboard individuals on the Autism spectrum.

Updating existing hiring practices through revamped job descriptions, technical recruitment tests, and more inclusive hiring measures are all ways to broaden your current candidate pool and find qualified talent for your organization.

2. Expand Your Search

Traditional IT recruitment practices focus heavily on candidates with degrees from elite universities and experience working at big tech companies. But this focus overlooks candidates from non-elite schools and those who learned technical skills through non-degree programs such as coding bootcamps. In order to find more quality candidates, consider refocusing your talent acquisition resources. Instead of recruiting from the same few universities, expand to other schools and non-degree programs with a tech focus.

You can also grow your candidate pool by reconsidering minimum degree requirements. While a four-year degree used to be standard for a job in tech, many companies are beginning to rethink the importance of a university degree. Today, there is a wide variety of educational options including certificate programs, massive open online courses, and online badges and degree programs that all offer an alternative to traditional university education. Similarly, candidates like veterans and individuals who are retired might come from a different educational environment, but they bring many practical skills and real-world experience. Opening your jobs to applicants from these backgrounds can quickly expand your talent pool.

Even big tech companies have begun to embrace these new forms of education and opened their recruitment processes to consider those from non-traditional backgrounds. IBM, for example, started a program called New Collar Jobs, which focuses on skills over degrees.  As part of the program, IBM has partnered with community colleges across the U.S. to help better prepare students for the tech jobs of the future.

With a tight labor market, low unemployment, and a growing tech skills shortage, expanding your search beyond traditional talent pipelines and lowering or discarding minimum educational requirements will help you find and hire great non-traditional tech talent.

3. Go Beyond Hard Skills

When recruiting for IT positions, both entry level and experienced, it can be easy to get caught up comparing candidates to a laundry list of technical qualifications. But this approach can miss people with soft skills that show great potential. While hard skills, like learning a new coding language, can be taught, qualities such as a strong work ethic, emotional intelligence, and good communication can be much more difficult to develop. Yet, these soft skills are also important indicators of success.

When interviewing potential candidates, pose questions that allow them to speak to these soft skills and demonstrate how they responded to past work situations. Their answers can be far more telling than a list of tech skills and qualifications. Similarly, candidates who show a willingness to learn and a passion for the area they’re applying to are more likely to work hard to succeed. This type of dedication and determination could outweigh any technical skills they bring to the job.

Last, consider expanding your search for non-traditional tech talent by looking internally. You might discover that you already have a great candidate for the job within your organization. All they require is a bit of training and development to learn the tech skills they’ll need to succeed.

Are you searching for top tech talent for your company? Benchmark IT can help! Contact us to learn more.
 

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