While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted hiring across the country in businesses small and large, the one area that has remained in high demand is technology talent. The need for cyber / data security, cloud architecture and IT infrastructure is as big as ever and companies are still struggling to attract the right talent.
The biggest problem for most HR professionals and corporate recruiters is understanding technology positions. Those who don’t have some kind of tech background often struggle to identify which skills are essential for a specific role. For example, do you need a back-end, front-end, or full-stack developer? What are the most important skills this developer should have?
Onward Select helps companies address this precise need. This dedicated arm of Onward Search focuses specifically on helping businesses hire technology talent quickly and efficiently.
We sat down with Jeremy Daniels, Managing Director of Onward Select, and asked him the following questions about what he is seeing in the industry today and some advice on hiring technology talent for your team.
Even with the global circumstances surrounding us, it still seems like every business is in need of some level of technology talent. What’s the most in-demand tech professionals you’re seeing today?
Regardless of what is happening in the world, businesses still need strong technology talent to succeed. We are currently seeing very high demand in a handful of sectors including biotech, government, healthcare, pharma, and tech to name a few.
What are the biggest challenges you see today from company’s trying to hire technology talent?
Companies need to develop a streamlined recruiting plan when hiring technology talent. Disorganization and lengthy stretches between interviews can reflect poorly on an organization and cause them to lose out on potential candidates.
Also, businesses that are recruiting outside of their sweet spot can get hung up on a very specific skill set which limits their candidate pool. Of course, an individual candidate’s shortcomings can be easily remedied through further schooling. General Assembly and Fullstack Academy, for example, are some great places for professionals to beef up their skills. However, many companies are hesitant to hire candidates whose experience in a certain area is limited to their education and not former professional work. Depending on the role, this may or may not be the right decision—but you should be absolutely sure of what you need before you turn down a potential asset to your team.
Finally, in today’s marketplace especially, don’t be afraid to look outside of your market. One of the main benefits of technology is that it allows for jobs to be done in an array of different ways, including remotely. If you want the very best talent, you shouldn’t limit yourself to your local candidate pool.
You deal with a lot of creative organizations working with Onward Search? What differences can they expect when hiring technology talent?
Simply put, if you’re used to hiring graphic designers, creative directors or UI / UX designers, then it’s going to be difficult for you to switch to tech recruitment because of how radically different the two spaces can be. A candidate’s skill set, background, and personality, all differ—meaning the conversation will as well.
Tech talent take great pride in their abilities and enjoy having meaningful conversations about their project work. If a hiring manager is trying to fake it, the candidate will know and that could be a huge turn-off.
Here’s some useful information on today’s technology professional according to Stack Overflow’s Global Survey:
- Over 90% of tech talent is male
- About 3/4ths of professional developers are younger than 35
- Almost 90% of developers said they have taught themselves a new language outside of their formal education
- 57% of developers have less than 5 years of professional coding experience
- Almost 90% of developers check in their code via Git
- Over 90% of developers are employed at least part-time
- Frequent job changes for developers are the norm – about half of developers have taken a new job within the past 2 years
Development tools and coding languages are constantly changing and evolving. Presumably, so are the best candidates’ skill sets. What kinds of obstacles does this create for hiring managers who are trying to recruit tech talent through their established networks?
Having an established talent network is only valuable for a hiring manager if they know how to leverage it. However, that can be difficult with skill sets constantly changing, leaving hiring managers to wonder who in their network can do what.
One idea could be to leverage your current tech employees. Ask them to help you build your search or possibly even review some of the candidates you have identified to see if they pass the smell test. They have a good understanding of the functional elements of the role, and understand the specific skills and abilities you should look for when hiring.
This is also where the value of a professional technology recruiting firm lies. A strategic recruiting partner can leverage their network to identify candidates who best meet the requirements of the position, so all you have to do is evaluate whether you think he or she will be a good fit.
Speaking of coding languages, can you give us a couple of examples of some languages that are hot right now and some insight into why they’re trending?
Sure, let me give you a couple of examples:
- In today’s data-driven world, R is in high demand. R is an open-source language for statistical computing and it is very popular among clients with a data mining focus.
What are some red flags you look for when evaluating a candidate’s profile?
The first would be a long list of short projects. Technology jobs (even contract ones) tend to last six months to year. So if a candidate has a resume full of one to two-month assignments, you have to question why these companies weren’t keeping him or her around.
Another red flag, and resume eyesore, is when candidates supply a long list of every technology / development language they’ve ever touched. It’s more important for today’s talent to have a specialty, something that separates them from the pack. This will help them demonstrate where their true value lies and help guide the conversation with the recruiter or hiring manager.
Side advice for any candidates reading this article: one resume does not fit all. You should have multiple versions based on the various jobs you are targeting.
What’s the biggest mistake you see hiring managers make when trying to recruit tech talent?
Regardless of the global circumstances, technology talent remains in high demand. Any above-average developer or engineer is being called on every day by recruiters. With this market reality, planning and interview experience have become more important than ever. The companies that attract and hire the best tech talent follow a smooth process and execute quickly on feedback and scheduling. There is no time to drag your feet. Anything more than a phone screen and in-person / video interview will lessen your chances of hiring a great tech professional.
Also, remember that the candidate is interviewing you during the process. You need to make the opportunity as enticing as possible to potential talent. Get them excited about the project, the team, and culture of the organization. Find out what is most important to them—salary, benefits, work life balance—and make sure you explain how your organization can meet their needs.
Stack Overflow’s survey offers some solid insight into what today’s tech talent are looking for in a potential job:
- Candidate’s top priorities in a new job are the compensation / bonuses and benefits offered
- They care about the specific technologies that they’ll work with more than things like fitness incentives and company provided meals
What are some benefits to working with a recruitment firm like Onward Select when searching for technology talent?
First and foremost, we’re dedicated to getting to know how our clients operate and their specific needs, understanding there is no one-size-fits-all solution to hiring technology talent. We strive to become an extension of their team to deliver against their individual goals. That is how the best placements happen.
Our team focuses solely on the tech space. We have decades of experience helping companies of all sizes identify the best talent for their teams, fast. We’ve made that possible by representing both our candidates and clients with honesty and the utmost respect.
Over the years we have developed close, trusted relationships with tech professionals in every industry. That trust has allowed us to truly tap the passive candidate market and bring our clients top talent that they would have never been exposed to otherwise. We take our reputation very seriously and will always represent our clients in a professional, ethical and positive manner.
What’s the best way to get in touch with you and to learn more about recruiting tech talent?
Please call me directly at (732) 494-4545 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have specialized recruiters who work by industry to provide the most knowledgable experience to our clients. I would be glad to put you in touch with someone who will best suit your individual needs.
About Jeremy Daniels:
Jeremy is the Managing Director for Onward Select, a dedicated division of Onward Search focusing on recruitment and staffing for technology talent. He has over 15 years of experience in the space and services some of the nation’s largest brands. When he’s not helping businesses connect with new talent, he enjoys fishing, rugby, and vacationing in Vermont with his family. You can email Jeremy at email@example.com or find him on LinkedIn.
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