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8 Pre- & Post-Hire Strategies For Overcoming the Tech Skills Gap
You’ve surely heard about the tech skills gap. It’s been one of the biggest concerns in recruiting and hiring for years—especially with technology being at the forefront of business success today. According to Jobvite’s 2016 Recruiter Nation Survey, 65% of recruiters say a lack of skilled candidates is the largest obstacle to hiring.

But what, as an employer, can you do to overcome the tech skills gap? In this post, we take a look at eight pre- and post-hire strategies that will help you acquire and retain the high-quality tech talent you need.

PRE-HIRE STRATEGIES

  1. ALWAYS Be Recruiting

Don’t wait until positions open to start recruiting. That leaves you scrambling to find candidates.

Instead, always be sourcing and recruiting. Doing so will help keep your candidate pipeline stocked, which increases the quality of hire and reduces time to hire.

Make sure that your efforts take into account forecasts of your business’ likely talent needs in the middle and long terms. It’ll help you better source and hire quality candidates for those needs when they arise.

  1. Broaden Your Sourcing and Recruiting

Despite the skills gap, there is enough tech talent out there. You just can’t expect the talent to find you. Instead, you need to find talent. To find it in sufficient quantities, avoid limiting your candidate pool by narrowing down your sourcing and recruiting unnecessarily.

Two recommendations are particularly noteworthy here:

  • Practice passive candidate recruiting as a focused strategy—Some of the best candidates aren’t actively seeking new jobs but will be open to other opportunities. According to another Jobvite survey, 51% or workers are satisfied with their current job, yet open to a new one. Employers that do a strong job of acquiring passive tech candidates can have a significant talent advantage over their competitors, which is why we suggest passive candidate recruiting as a focused strategy.
  • Recruiting outside your region—Some regions are richer in tech talent than others, so it makes sense to take advantage of them if you’re not able to satisfy your tech talent needs locally. Consider offering remote work, which makes your opportunities more attractive to candidates who don’t want to relocate. Or consider taking advantage of foreign tech talent, perhaps through the H-1B visa program (the Trump administration has indicated that it plans to give preference to awarding visas to higher-skilled, higher-paid workers, like those with master’s degrees).
  1. Use Freelancers

If your tech talent needs are low or fluctuate, freelancers—whom you can hire on an hourly or project basis—can help meet your IT needs. Many organizations use freelancers from sites such as Upwork, a global freelancing platform where businesses and freelancers connect and collaborate remotely.

  1. Outsource Your IT

Another option, especially for those with limited tech talent needs, is to use companies that specialize in providing IT services. One advantage of this approach is these companies are under pressure to meet your expectations, which we recommend clearly laying out in writing before entering an agreement.

  1. Assess for the Skills and Experience You Need

No matter the job role, you want to make a quality hire. But the tech skills gap means that making quality IT hiring decisions is especially important.
Why? First, it’s more likely that a given candidate doesn’t have the skills and experience you need, so you’re at higher risk of making a bad hire. Second, if you do make a bad hire, you either end up existing with a poor employee, which frustrates other members of your IT staff, or you have to reopen the position, which is likely to take some time to fill.

To increase your chances of making quality hires, you want to ensure that candidates have the skills and experience necessary to succeed at a given role. The best way to do so is through an effective technical interviewing process. Whether hiring for a full-time worker, H-1B talent or a freelancer, consider using freelance interviewers with relevant technical expertise for efficient, quality results.

  1. Invest in Your Future Workforce

This includes actions such as sponsoring high school or college STEM programs and providing mentoring to future tech workers. Sponsoring programs contributes to more students become more interested in STEM jobs, and maybe even in your company. Mentoring, meanwhile, helps develop relationships that can contribute to future tech talent to want to work for your company. You might even consider paying for some students’ degree programs, perhaps using a model similar to Walgreens’ Professional Educational Assistance Program, which offers $2,500 annual scholarships to pharmacy school in exchange for graduates working for them.

While investing in your future workforce doesn’t address your current tech talent needs, it can help with your mid- and long-term needs.

POST-HIRE STRATEGIES

  1. Encourage Skills Development

When your employees develop valuable skills, it generates a strong return for your organization. In the case of tech talent, when your IT workers learn new programming languages that help them with their jobs, that can mean you don’t have to hire people who know those programming languages. As a result, we encourage offering:

  • On-site training programs
  • Remote learning opportunities (such as online classes)
  • Allowing IT pros to do side projects that help their development

If dedicated training and learning programs aren’t feasible, at least consider building in time into your tech workers’ schedules for self-guided professional development. Whether dedicated or informal, it’s important to monitor training and learning to measure results and make improvements.

  1. Focusing on Employee Retention

An employee you retain is an employee you don’t have to replace. So do everything you can to retain your quality tech employees. Effecting training and learning programs are part of this, as career advancement opportunities are one of the top employee retention drivers, according to Willis Towers Watson’s 2016 Global Talent Management Rewards, and Global Workforce Studies report. According to the survey, the top retention drivers are:

  1. Base pay/salary
  2. Career advancement opportunities
  3. Physical work environment
  4. Job security
  5. Ability to manage work-related stress
  6. Relationship with supervisor/manager
  7. Trust/confidence in senior leadership

SUMMARY
Using a combination of effective pre-hire and post-hire strategies can help you overcome the tech skills gap. While finding quality IT talent will likely remain challenging, those organizations that do the best job of executing the strategies above will do the best job of meeting this crucial challenge.