Birds symbolizing paths to cloud migration

In spite of significant layoffs of IT professionals in the tech sector, sourcing the right talent for strategic projects continues to present significant challenges. Learn more about the reasons for this paradox and what strategies you can employ to mitigate the problem.

Tech Recruiting Slowdown in High Tech

Statistically speaking, the post-pandemic trend of layoffs in the tech sector that started in 2022 has continued this year. Tech companies, large and small, made headlines with massive layoffs followed by announcements about hiring freezes or significant reductions in their hiring plans.

These developments logically raise some questions:

  • Is tech recruiting really slowing down?
  • Is the tech talent pool getting bigger after the layoffs?
  • Is getting access to highly qualified IT professionals becoming easier?
  • Is filling in your company’s tech talent gap as easy as those Zip Recruiter / Indeed ads promise you?
  • How do you leverage available IT talent to bring your business to the next level?

Without a doubt technology innovation has been red hot in the last two decades. The tech industry has been one of the fastest-growing sectors worldwide. However, the economic downturn and global supply chain disruptions that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic have in turn brought about a serious drop in hiring practices in the tech industry.

In addition, the tech hiring slowdown can partly be attributed to heightened regulatory scrutiny placed on the tech industry by governments worldwide. Over the years, big tech companies have had to address rising regulatory pressure due to concerns about privacy and the pervasive intrusion of technology.

In spite of the dramatic developments in tech companies big and small, however, the overall need for tech talent is projected to grow, boosting demand for various IT roles across all industries of the global economy. In fact, this paradoxical state of affairs has been keeping our precision-based IT staffing unit operating in full force.

Impact of Layoffs in Tech on Non-Tech Sectors

Given the importance tech innovation has gained to propel business transformation, it isn’t totally surprising that the layoffs by technology companies may be benefiting other sectors in the economy. According to business strategist Kaihan Krippendorff, the slowdown in tech hiring may have positive consequences for companies in the other industries. His assumption is that not all IT professionals will necessarily look for new opportunities in the tech sector.

“… these layoffs could present a windfall opportunity for non-tech companies across industries to finally close the gap between the demands of digital evolution and the talent needed to fulfill on its potential.”

There is a logical explanation for this occurrence. Firstly, the changes in work practices imposed by the pandemic sparked a technical boom across all sectors of the economy. Lockdowns and remote work requirements forced companies to implement cloud technologies and revamp work policies pretty much overnight. This situation, in turn, increased demand for tech experts in industries that in the past had been considered anything but early adopters.

Consequently, technologies like cloud computing, data science, and machine learning—once considered primarily academic disciplines—have become the foundation for modern business initiatives. The speed with which these technologies have transformed business operations has created increased demand for IT specialists beyond the closed bubble of high tech. New roles offering opportunities for people with the right skillsets are multiplying.

In line with this argument, Vox contributor Rani Mola identifies finance, healthcare, and manufacturing – traditionally considered conservative sectors with respect to tech innovation adoption – as the preferred industries for tech professionals reentering the workforce.

At the same time, innovation is still outpacing supply and these highly specialized skills are often in short supply.

Finding the Right Fit in IT

Finding the right tech talent

In addition to the common misunderstanding between “tech savvy” and “technically sound”, other skills that are crucial to a successful hire in IT often get disregarded. HR professionals refer to them as “soft skills” or “people skills” and they are as relevant as a candidate’s technical background. These skills refer to a person’s ability to integrate easily in the company culture and to communicate effectively in cross-functional teams. Unfortunately, soft skills are generally scarce in the tech talent pool of candidates.

This is not a recent phenomenon. For years, the lack of soft skills (communication and adaptability to change) has hindered IT pros from getting hired or being promoted. In a 2018 survey 60% of respondents identified leadership as the weakest soft skill among technology professionals. Effective communication among team members and across teams continues to be a serious challenge in the post-pandemic reality where the hybrid workplace and distributed environments are widespread.

As emerging technologies become widely adopted in all industries, the need for knowledgeable IT professionals that possess a portfolio beyond what a LinkedIn article on the topic refers to as “technology-savvy skills” becomes crucial.

Being aware of the latest flavors of emerging technologies and being capable of making innovation part of an organization’s long-term business strategy for continuous success are two very different competencies. The fact that they often get confused is likely one reason technical recruiting is harder than sourcing resources for other specialties.

Furthermore, determining if a candidate with solid technical credentials is the right fit for a given organization is harder than it sounds. Our own experience confirms it: several of our clients turned to us for help for exactly this reason. They had been able to source candidates with the IT skills they were looking for through alternative recruiting platforms. Unfortunately, they had been unsuccessful in integrating them in their organizations. The result was continuous turn-over and time wasted in the onboarding of unsuitable candidates. The iShift IT staffing unit was able to step in and bring them the right people with the right skills who fit right in their environment. 

Bridging the Skill Gap between Legacy and Emerging Technologies

I already pointed out that despite the massive layoffs in the technical sector, demand for skilled talent across industries remains heavy as companies adopt new technologies. At the same time, something else often gets overlooked: the fact that legacy technologies don’t just disappear overnight. This phenomenon presents another obstacle to successful outcomes in IT hiring.

With the ever-evolving technology, new programming languages, frameworks, and tools emerge regularly. Consequently, this rapid pace of change requires tech professionals to continuously update their skills to remain relevant and competitive. Meanwhile, technology platforms that were once mainstream are rapidly becoming obsolete even though they are still being widely used in many industries. Suddenly, however, there are few IT professionals with the expertise to support these legacy systems.

So, we are faced with a tough conundrum. On the one hand, innovative technologies are opening a whole new field of IT roles that need to be filled through retraining or reskilling. On the other, this is depleting IT departments of IT professionals trained on legacy technologies that, while highly specialized, are no longer hip or desirable. Consequently, hiring managers often struggle to find tech candidates with the precise combination of skills and experience required by the IT infrastructure of a particular organization. This further contributes to the hiring challenges in IT.

Our own Charles Arconi offers a compelling case study about the scarcity of engineers able to manage legacy storage platforms. At the same time, he highlights the severe consequences if an organization is unable to produce requested records during litigation. One of the ways to avert such a catastrophe is to work with an IT staffing organization that specializes in providing technical talent certified both in emerging and legacy technologies.

Long Hiring Processes Don’t Cut It Any More

The typically time-consuming IT hiring process is another serious hurdle that prevents organizations from getting access to the talent they need to keep their business competitive. Here are some of the reasons causing the bottleneck:

  • Multiple interview rounds: Due to the technical nature of IT positions, companies often conduct multiple interviews to assess candidates thoroughly. Additionally, IT roles often require collaboration with multiple teams or stakeholders, which further prolongs the interview process.
  • Lengthy screening process: Screening resumes, shortlisting candidates, and conducting initial screening interviews is time-consuming and not always efficient. Additionally, background checks and reference verifications may be necessary, adding to the overall duration of the hiring process.
  • Internal decision-making processes: Often hiring decisions involve multiple stakeholders, including HR, technical teams, and management. Coordinating schedules, aligning priorities, and obtaining consensus among decision-makers can further contribute to hiring delays.
  • Onboarding and training requirements: Candidates hired to fill IT roles on a full-time basis usually need to undergo onboarding and training programs to ensure they can adapt to the organization’s systems, processes, and technologies. The design and implementation of these programs may take additional time, thereby resulting in a longer, more complex hiring process.

Organizations can take several proactive steps to address these challenges and expedite the IT hiring process. They can work with a trusted advisor to improve their talent acquisition strategies and eliminate steps that don’t add value to IT recruiting.

One of the approaches that has proven to be highly successful when we work with clients is to outline very clearly all the job requirements before we even start looking for a candidate. Once we have defined the IT role, we further streamline the interview process by pre-screening potential candidates, assessing both their technical and soft skills and performing any needed background checks. Only after we have zeroed in on a very targeted tech talent pool, do we connect with the client and present them with a list of candidates who not only match their criteria but are able to integrate with their team immediately.

Another strategy that we have found to work really well for reducing the length and complexity in IT recruiting is to leverage the vast network of contingent IT workforce. We can attest from our work with clients that organizations across all sectors and sizes are embracing this approach enthusiastically for both short and longer-term IT projects. Since these contract-based IT specialists candidates remain iShift employees throughout the engagements, clients benefit from avoiding HR overhead and can rely on an accelerated hiring process.

Other key reasons why we have been able to build lasting partnerships with our clients is our precision-based approach to talent matching and our extensive network of versatile, and highly skilled and versatile IT contract professionals. These tech experts choose to work on contract and possess the skills to execute successfully. They are available to join IT teams at short notice and are able to integrate with the inhouse IT department from day 1. We have confirmation of the effectiveness of this model time and time again. 85% of the clients we have provided with technical talent once has continued to rely on us for future projects.

Changing Workforce Expectations

As already alluded above, the 21st century brought a dramatic shift to the notion of the “traditional workforce.” In 1999, a mere 4.3% of the total workforce in the U.S. held contingent jobs. By 2027, freelancers are expected to make up 50.9% of the working population. Regardless of what we call them – freelancers, contingent workers, or digital nomads – this is a growing category of workers who have consciously rejected the traditional 9-to-5 work scenario in favor of flexibility, choice, and a different life-work balance dynamic. Millennials and GenZers, who make up a significant portion of the tech talent pool, are very much part of this class. Thus, companies need to adapt their hiring strategies and company culture to meet these expectations if they want to attract and retain tech talent.

Yet, sourcing and managing contingent labor still presents a serious challenge for many organizations. We already identified some of the reasons traditional hiring and onboarding approaches are cumbersome. They are especially inadequate in the IT sector where most initiatives are project-based, require speed, and don’t necessarily require highly specialized permanent hires.

By adopting a modern agile hybrid approach to talent acquisition, companies can avoid high hiring costs and still attain their staffing goals in a dramatically shortened time frame. They can reduce the cost and complexity of managing contingent workers by engaging with a specialized IT staffing partner that provides the tech talent they need on-demand and is responsible for all the recruiting costs.

Demand for Tech Is Pervasive

Tech talent will prevail. Economic downturn or not, tech is here to stay. As more and more companies from more and more sectors adopt new technologies, the need for skilled IT professionals will remain heavy across industries. At the same time, it is important that organizations are aware that both the business and tech landscapes have changed and new flexible approaches to finding top tech talent is needed.

If you are struggling to find the right IT talent for your upcoming project, iShift can help. If you need Architects, Engineers, Developers, or Consultants for short-term or long-term assignments, we will find them for you. Here are some of the things our team can help you with:

  • Analysis of current IT skills shortages and high-demand skills;
  • Strategy workshops to overcome industry-specific issues like employee turnover and retention (e.g., healthcare, financial sector, etc.)
  • A vast network of highly specialized tech candidates in both new and legacy technologies.

Working with our knowledgeable and experienced team will ensure the success of your IT initiatives whatever the technology, scope, or level of expertise. At the end of the day, finding the right tech talent that is right for your organization doesn’t have to be so damn hard. All you need to do is work with the right people.

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