IT Recruitment Challenges & How to Overcome Them

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It’s a tough time to be a tech recruiter. Competition is cutthroat for the best and brightest talent, yet technology is evolving so quickly that skills needs are rarely consistent from year to year or even monthly. On top of that, massive layoffs in recent history have made many would-be candidates wary. As always, though, recruiters who adopt strategies for the current market will be the ones who come out on top in the talent acquisition game. We’ll outline the biggest IT recruitment challenges we’re currently seeing, how employers can overcome them, and tips for retaining your strongest talent in a fiercely competitive landscape. 

7 IT Recruitment Challenges

IT talent shortage

Unemployment rates are under 2%–and sometimes even 1%–for the most in-demand IT roles. But despite the persistent labor shortage, growth in the sector isn’t slowing down; there are about 80% more tech job openings being advertised post-pandemic as there were before the pandemic began. Overly particular hiring managers can compound the situation, setting their sights on so-called unicorns that simply don’t exist or require ten times more effort and budget to hire.

This IT recruitment challenge’s lack of talent prevents businesses from moving into new markets and growing revenue, and it also requires current employees to step in to fill the gaps. This can lead to higher turnover and burnout among existing team members.

How to overcome it:

Write clear and accurate job descriptions focusing on the core skills necessary for the job rather than a laundry list of requirements that would be “nice to have.” Prioritize hiring from nontraditional backgrounds, like candidates from outside of tech, and create targeted recruiting materials to reach these audiences. You can also broaden your candidate pool and reduce costs by hiring within nontraditional tech hubs like Miami and Salt Lake City versus highly saturated markets like San Francisco or Seattle.

Wide gender gap

Only about a quarter of applicants for IT jobs are female, and the disparity increases the higher the seniority level. Believe it or not, fewer women are in tech jobs now than in the 80s. Companies that stick with the status quo must catch up on a host of ambitious, highly skilled talent that could be accessed via more inclusive recruiting and overcoming IT recruitment challenges. 

How to overcome it:

Create strategic recruitment campaigns that cater to female candidates’ needs and interests. Increase your focus on referrals and organic sourcing channels, where most female tech candidates come from (versus channels like job boards or events). 

Demand for remote roles

80 million Americans work from home at least some of the time and want to do it more frequently. Nearly 90% of workers allowed to work remotely have embraced the opportunity, and many top candidates won’t even consider strictly on-site roles. 

The problem is that tech duties can’t always be accomplished remotely. Activities like systems setup and maintenance require a human on the ground floor, while brainstorming sessions don’t consistently deliver the same punch when conducted over Zoom.

How to overcome it:

Offer location flexibility whenever possible and leverage hybrid models like three days onsite and two days remote. Where remote work simply isn’t an option, highlight other forms of flexibility in the job offers, like ample PTO or flexible scheduling. Besides recruiting, prioritize culture initiatives that make people want to come into the office. 

More tech professionals going freelance

What do tech all-stars do when they can’t find a job that offers the pay and flexibility they want? These days, they just create a job for themself. The number of freelance developers, for example, grew by five percentage points in the last year alone. 

The rise of freelancing means droves of IT professionals have departed the corporate workforce to strike out on their own, setting their hours and rates but leaving a shortage of talent seeking in-house positions. 

How to overcome it: 

Embrace it. Address talent shortages by making contract labor a more prominent part of your workforce strategy. Supplement full-time employees with specialized freelancers who can fill gaps on niche projects. Employers can also break full-time positions into multiple part-time roles, which may appeal to candidates seeking to apply their skills outside the transitional confines of a 9-to-5. 

Persistent economic uncertainty

2023’s swath of tech industry layoffs left a bad taste in job seekers’ mouths. Meanwhile, persistent economic uncertainty means candidates are more cautious than in years past. Top performers are less ‘poachable’ than once, hesitant to leave the security of their current positions for something unknown. Many have left the field entirely. 

How to overcome it: 

Strengthen retention and nurture evolving leaders by promoting from within. Leverage upskilling to make employees more adaptable and empower them to fulfill multiple roles.

Skills are phased out quickly

Today’s IT field moves at breakneck speed. Emerging technology is hot for a few years, then quickly phased out for the next big thing. This means professionals with deep specialization often find their skills outdated, and roles that were once necessary become obsolete.

How to overcome it: 

Prioritize hiring IT generalists who can quickly get up to speed on new technology but can pivot when needed. This is another supporting argument for favoring tapping freelancers, who can give employers access to specialized skills for a limited time frame. 

Demand for value alignment

Candidates increasingly want jobs that deliver satisfaction beyond a paycheck. This is especially true for millennials and Gen Z candidates, who make up the largest portion of the workforce. 

How to overcome it: 

Incorporate strong value-based messaging into recruitment materials. Focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives and assess for culture fit and skills. Use candidate personas to zero in on the programs that matter most to your ideal candidate. 

Tips to Retain IT Professionals

1. Recognize the specific role for which you are recruiting

When human resources professionals and recruiters do not have a background in or experience finding tech talent, they understandably need help to recognize the essential skills required for the exact role that is open. This can result in frustrated hiring managers and positions remaining open too long.  Knowing the specific abilities and experience you require in an ideally-suited candidate is vital.

2. Understand the traits of your ideal candidate

Defining what is known as your candidate persona is a valuable ingredient in finding, attracting, hiring, and retaining talented IT professionals. It is also helpful to know the demographics of typical prospects.

Stack Overflow’s Global Survey has some good insights into the typical developer candidate. More than 90% of developers are men, and 60% are under 35. Eighty-one percent are currently employed full-time, while 16% are freelancers. Typical salaries varied widely, from around $56,000 on the low end to $117,000 on the high end. 

Defining your ideal candidate’s traits and understanding the demographics in the industry will better prepare you for your search.

3. What motivates tech talent?

There are two key motivators for top tech talent: growth opportunities and money, usually in that order. One HBR survey found dissatisfaction with learning and development opportunities was a driving factor for IT workers to start looking for a new job. When they did start looking, higher salaries were an attractive quality that lured them elsewhere. 

Flexibility is also a significant motivator. As we mentioned earlier, most tech workers want to work from home at least part of the time. If that option is revoked, they will likely start looking for other potential employers that offer it.

Gaining insight into what is most meaningful to prospective team members is vital because of the tech talent shortage. Benefits that elevate your company from the competition, and the option of working remotely instead of having the time and expense of commuting to an office, can be the difference between your business landing a quality candidate or your competitor gaining that prospect.

4. Create and maintain a strong employer brand

When most potential employees are already employed elsewhere, making a positive impression is increasingly important. Effective employer branding is the key to properly representing your company and attracting quality tech talent.

According to Glassdoor, 84 percent of employees said they would leave their company for another one with a better reputation. A favorable employer brand involves creating and then maintaining a reputation as a great place to work that offers value to your employees (compared to only asking for value from them). Companies with a strong employer brand tend to attract talent organically, meaning team members flock to them.

Culture is integral. Have you created an engaging and inviting work environment? Is morale at your company high? Do team members feel appreciated and challenged? Do employees see the opportunity for growth and upward movement at your firm? Perception is reality, and a compelling employer brand generates both a positive perception and reality.

5. A positive candidate experience is essential

Candidate experience is among the tools to build and maintain a favorable employer brand. It involves how you treat prospects during the hiring process, from start to finish, and it includes those you hire and those who could be better for the current job opening but might be perfect for another role in the future.

If candidates have an unpleasant experience, they are less likely to accept an offer and most likely to let people know why on social media and in face-to-face communication, putting a strain on your employer’s brand. A positive candidate experience results in more accepted job offers and shining reviews on social media and in person.

Pros With Working With an IT Headhunter or Staffing Agency

With all of the factors above in mind, partnering with an IT staffing agency or IT headhunter can give your company an edge in finding exceptional tech talent and overcoming IT recruitment challenges. Here are some advantages of working with a recruiting company that is experienced in helping businesses find top tech talent:

1. They understand the IT industry

Many technology jobs are complex and require a particular set of skills. IT staffing agencies have teams of recruiters and headhunters who understand the specific abilities, education, and experience necessary for the myriad of technology occupations.

2. They have a deep pool of candidates

IT staffing agencies have vast networks of contacts in a multitude of industries. This is especially crucial in finding tech talent since most of the best prospects are already employed and have not actively sought a new job. IT recruiters and IT headhunters have an expansive network of contacts and a deeper talent pool than companies that rely upon recruiting on their own or staffing firms with limited experience in the IT field.

3. They screen out candidates who are not ideal

Sourcing, interviewing, and hiring quality employees is a time-consuming process. Ideal team members not only have the desired education, experience, and skills for the available opportunity but also should fit in with your corporate culture. IT headhunters and IT staffing agencies pre-screen candidates, which weeds out prospects who could be a better fit. This increases the chance that you will find and hire employees who will be happy and productive in the long term.

4. They are invested in your company for the long term

Not only is it important to find talented team members who want to stay with your company for the long term, but it is also valuable to partner with a recruiter who is genuinely committed to your firm’s success. A reputable and devoted IT staffing agency can be a valuable long-term asset to help your company consistently grow.

4 Corner Resources Can Help You Overcome IT Recruitment Challenges

4 Corner Resources (4CR) is an experienced and innovative leader in helping companies like yours find skilled and qualified tech talent to fill your vacant positions. We’re seasoned IT recruiting professionals with nearly two decades of experience filling the high-value, tech-driven roles that move your company forward. In a constantly evolving field, we understand that a fast, agile recruiting process is key to success, and that’s what we deliver from day one of our partnerships with our clients. 

We offer staffing solutions for businesses of all sizes – from startups to SMBs and large corporations throughout the United States. Our knowledge and passion for what we do, and our flexible terms and conditions, set us apart in the world of headhunting and recruiting.

If you need help identifying the right tech candidates for your vacancies, we welcome the opportunity to connect! We’re on standby to help you overcome common IT recruitment challenges and find the ideal candidate today!

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Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn