Hiring in the Current IT Talent Climate

To find the best developers for your team, understand the market in your region, research the prevalence of the skills you need to hire for, and consider options that can expand your search to find the talent you need.

If you’re an ISV looking to hire, you are probably aware that good developers can be hard to find. Here are the answers to four questions that will give you the perspective you need when you set out to hire in the current IT talent climate.

What’s the current status of the IT talent pool? How much of a shortage actually exists?

The current IT talent pool shortages are a geographical problem. Hiring managers in San Francisco, for example, are fighting to put together competitive offers to lure potential new hires to the West Coast, while employers in cities like Chicago can tout lower living costs but might have to look farther for a qualified candidate pool.

Consider Silicon Valley, for example. Is it hard to hire talented people? Absolutely. The Bay Area tech bubble is driven by high salaries, equity potential, and inflated venture funding. If you’re a fast-paced startup that shows promise, you can offer solid equity to prospective candidates. And if you’re a big tech company, like Facebook or Google, people are knocking on your door and lining up to be your next employee. But, for the majority (i.e., the mature and established company turning a profit), there is a true IT talent shortage as talented workers flock to the visionary startup or tech giant.

While some believe education is the answer to IT hiring woes, building quality software takes a certain mindset and problem-solving capabilities that are not an innate specialty for everyone. It’s a novel skillset to have, but introducing computer programming into elementary curriculum will not change the short-term shortage.

Are certain types of roles more difficult to fill at this time?

The most difficult skill set to hire for is DevOps. As growing technology companies build the infrastructure for their product or platform, engineering and software leads are looking for someone who can do more than “keeps the lights on.” Many DevOps engineers on the market come from the big cloud companies, so their skillset is uniquely suited to maintain pre-existing code. But, the growing tech company is looking for someone who can build a unique cloud infrastructure from the ground up.

Design roles, like user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), are difficult to hire for because there is a diverse set of skills required in this field. Can you code? Do you understand typography principles? How about color theory? Psychology? The list goes on because hiring managers expect developers to also have graphic design skills. Even if you find the best candidate, they probably will not stay with one company for too long. That said, companies should want their design teams to eventually move on to ensure fresh perspectives over time. The best designers and programmers are transient, and they prefer to work on a contract basis.

Is it worth approaching currently employed software developers? Is this group usually open to making a change?

If developers are not willing to make a career change, they’re not the people you want working for your company. It is important to build a team specific to what you need at that point in time. Company leaders must constantly reevaluate the needs of the company and hire fresh talent to meet their goals.

Once a company has a mature product and the pace of innovation slows down, it is important to develop a reliable leadership roster. Employees that stay within a growing company for 10+ years become leaders because they understand the history of the company and recognize the direction the company is headed toward. These leaders can also bring companies into the future by challenging static ideas and driving innovation through these constant changes.

To hire in the software industry, companies must build and maintain happy and talented team. It starts with the hiring managers to curate a job description that grabs the attention of the best. Job descriptions should market a company to the top talent by offering exciting and new opportunities unique to the company. Most jobs in the software industry resemble a requisition order and are not attracting the top talent.

Is salary the primary deciding factor or do other things, like benefits and company culture, play a role in attracting top talent?

There is not a single factor that unanimously attracts the top talent; it differs based on generational and geographical need. For example, millennials are often regarded as job hoppers who chase salary. But, we live in an era where many in this age group have a skill set in high demand, so they have the flexibility to choose work they are passionate about. The tech industry typically pays well, so developers will ask themselves whether they are working on a fun project, with people they like, and in an enjoyable culture because their main priority is not salary.

Additionally, there is the global workforce to consider as more companies expand overseas. Countries like Malaysia attract people from India, Pakistan and Eastern Europe that have dramatically different lives and cultures. Most work to send money back to their families, but when the Malaysian currency took a recent hit, many companies were concerned foreign workers would leave Malaysia to find work elsewhere where they could afford to send money home. Fun office environments and benefits have less meaning in different cultures. They are much more interested in salary and regular meals. 

Ryan Duguid

Ryan Duguid is chief evangelist at Nintex.


Ryan Duguid is chief evangelist at Nintex.