Across the nation, there is concern over whether the demand for tech talent will soon outpace the workers available to address it. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.9 percent of the entire workforce, some 4.3 million Americans, quit their jobs in the month of August. At the same time, as of September, there were 1.2 million active job postings in computer occupations such as software developer or programmer in the U.S.
By 2030, the tech industry is projected to add 667,600 new jobs, highlighting the need for employers to act now before the demand for tech talent spins out of control. Incentives such as signing bonuses and tuition repayment programs have become commonplace, but there is a better way to fill the gap in the market and attract — and retain — the tech talent companies so desperately need.
If tech employers can focus on what employees want in a career and recruit from non-traditional pipelines, more workers will be enticed to take the leap into tech — no matter their age or experience — and ultimately contribute to meeting this growing demand. By focusing on the following guidelines, companies large or small can hire a diverse talent pool, maintain strong employee retention and produce a happy, engaging work environment for the tech industry of tomorrow.
How to Fill the Demand for More Tech Talent
- Remove the college degree requirement from job applications.
- Allow your employees to work from home — or anywhere they want.
- Widen your recruiting lens and invest in elevating your workforce to break down barriers for underrepresented groups in tech.
- Create a clear path for professional mobility.
Download this remote onboarding toolkit to access actionable resources you can implement and see the impact of immediately.
Remove the College Degree Requirement From Job Applications
Traditional college is no longer the only way to gain an education or the necessary skills to succeed in the tech industry. In fact, about one-quarter (26 percent) of IT workers in the United States do not hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. By opening applications to those who may have chosen a non-traditional route into the tech industry, employers can expand the talent pool for their companies and increase the likelihood of well-rounded, experienced individuals.
In addition, employers shouldn’t fall into the trap of focusing solely on the technical skills applicants possess. The key to a well-rounded workforce is employees who can do the work, keep learning new skills on the job, and collaborate well with others, so employers should look for applicants with soft skills as well as the necessary certifications and degrees. An eagerness to learn and the ability to work in a team are just as important as prior education, and there are many soft skills from other industries that are applicable in IT/software engineering.
Allow Your Employees to Work From Home — Or Anywhere They Want
Remote work is here to stay — especially in the tech industry. Facebook, Twitter, Substack, and more have already taken the lead in allowing employees to work indefinitely from home, so smaller companies should take the hint and follow suit. When employers limit their hiring parameters to applicants living in certain cities, they cut out those who may bring different perspectives and experiences beneficial to your company.
With that in mind, allowing employees to choose whether they want to work in the office or be entirely remote is a convenient way to widen the talent pool and attract applicants who are looking for a remote/flexible position. The beauty of the tech industry is that so much can be done productively without the need to ever step foot into an office, so employers should take advantage of this opportunity to widen their search and incentivize tech talent to apply.
Widen Your Recruiting Lens and Invest in Elevating Your Workforce to Break Down Barriers for Underrepresented Groups in Tech
According to a recent report, 68 percent of business leaders feel there is a lack of diversity in their tech workforce. At the same time, half of 18-28 year olds have left or wanted to leave their tech job because the company culture made them uncomfortable, and only 39 percent of women report that they were encouraged to pursue a career in technology from their high school, compared to 47 percent of men.
Many point to the biased output of our four-year institutions as a major driver of the lack of diversity in the tech industry. For example, women receive just 18 percent of undergraduate computer science degrees in the US, Blacks just 9 percent, and Latino students 10 percent. With that in mind, it stands to reason that companies that rely on college degrees for their tech workforce will experience issues.
In addition, large organizations could have rich diversity when looked at overall, but not in the tech workforce or positions of senior leadership. Identifying potential in lower skilled positions and reskilling into tech roles can be a great way to advance diverse talent.
Companies should also dedicate resources to train HR professionals on how to hire diverse talent and promote positive culture among existing employees to increase retention. Company culture starts at the top, so leaders need to play a key role in ensuring that management is inclusive, promotes respectful behavior, and corrects discriminatory or inappropriate behavior immediately.
Create a Clear Path for Professional Mobility
Once employers hire talented workers, it’s important to continue to put in the work to keep them. Retention is much more likely when an employee can picture their future within the company. Instead of hiring from the outside for every top-level position, employers should look to current employees and reward them for their hard work and loyalty.
Investing in internal upskilling programs, where lower-level employees can learn new skills to be successful within the company, will help to create the talent needed for senior-level positions. Showing employees that their professional growth matters is also a powerful motivator, and workers that feel engaged and appreciated are more likely to stay at their company than those who feel like cogs in a machine.
The labor shortage our country is experiencing has had an impact across all major industries, but the extraordinary growth the tech sector is projected to see makes it all the more critical that employers act to address this challenge. Employers that follow these guidelines will find that this shortage is an opportunity to rethink their hiring practices and will be able to build and retain a happier workforce as a result.
Use our template to seamlessly calculate your own employee retention rate.