America’s worker shortage continues to impact all sectors of the US economy, and the tech industry is no exception. In fact, companies have been struggling with a shortage of STEM talent for quite some time, and a recent survey of 1,200 tech and IT workers in the US found that 72 percent of them plan to quit their job within the next year.
This mass exodus means companies need to start leveling up their recruitment initiatives as soon as possible, but this process certainly won’t look the same as it did pre-pandemic. Not only is remote work still necessary in some cases, but tech talent has dispersed throughout the country, and companies can no longer rely on the siloed talent pools in San Francisco, New York, and Austin.
Additionally, new research from alliantgroup found that 31 percent of C-suite executives said not hiring the right talent was one of the biggest mistakes they made when undergoing a digital transformation project. With these projects becoming even more essential to managing hybrid workflows and scaling up tech adoption, companies can’t afford to put off their talent search any longer.
So, how exactly can businesses recruit and retain top tech talent, even amid a national worker shortage?
3 Strategies for Successful Tech Recruiting Post-Pandemic
- Invest in your talent pipeline early, from middle grades and on.
- Expand beyond "superstar" tech cities like New York, San Francisco, and Austin.
- Prioritize innovation to attract employees that want to work on cutting-edge projects.
Invest in Your Talent Pipeline Early
The mistake that most tech companies make is starting recruitment at the collegiate or post-collegiate level. At this point, the incoming talent pipeline has already been solidified to some extent and is, in turn, limited — for example, only 18 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2016 were in STEM fields.
Instead, companies need to invest in their local STEM education programs, cultivating this interest in tech as early as elementary school and seeing that interest through until high school graduation. While this strategy requires the allocation of significantly more time and resources, it pays off in the end with a larger talent pool, passionate graduates, and loyal employees.
In fact, 24 percent of C-suite executives are already planning to invest in community or STEM education programs to fill their technical talent pipelines. This could mean providing scholarships to students who are majoring in the STEM fields, funding after school programs like Girls Who Code, or donating robotics materials to your local middle school. All these acts of service might not have an immediate impact on your tech workforce, but they’re essential to closing the national talent gap and inspiring our next generation of engineers, IT specialists, and data scientists.
Expand Beyond “Superstar Cities”
The pandemic spurred a mass migration of workers, with most offices closing their doors and adopting remote working models. As a result, cities that once housed all the up-and-coming tech professionals became less concentrated, and STEM employees dispersed across the country.
C-suite executives are already responding to this mass relocation, and 30 percent say they plan to recruit outside of typical high-tech regions to support their digital transformation initiatives. But the expansion doesn’t stop there — 25 percent of industry leaders are even opening physical offices in these traditionally non-high-tech locations to access key talent, signaling a long-term investment in new communities.
By planting roots in traditionally non-high-tech regions, companies can play a key role in launching new “superstar cities.” For example, Tampa is already emerging as a tech hub, currently home to over 50 software and IT tech companies.
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Prioritize Cutting-Edge Innovation
One of the most direct ways that tech companies can both attract and retain today’s STEM professionals is to double down on their innovation efforts. Through launching digital transformation initiatives, adopting new technologies, and investing in research and development, businesses can position themselves as a playground for professionals who are itching to work on cutting-edge projects.
Carving out the funding for new innovations can seem daunting, especially as companies continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic, but there are actually numerous federal resources available to businesses that participate in these activities.
For example, the Research and Development Tax Credit is a robust incentive that rewards companies for their innovative practices and R&D efforts. Organizations in every sector can qualify if they design or develop products, processes, techniques, formulas, inventions, or software, or even just implement, advance, or improve upon existing products or processes. Virtually all tech companies are already engaging in a qualifying activity, and thus eligible for beneficial returns to fund even more projects.
Additionally, businesses that not only recruited new talent but retained their current workforce during the pandemic currently qualify for the Employee Retention Tax Credit. This incentive allows organizations to claim even more rewards, which they can then reinvest back into their digital initiatives. Both these credits are significantly underclaimed, and tech companies would be wise to use them as a powerful tool for future innovation and recruitment.
There’s no better time to start laying the groundwork for your upcoming recruitment initiatives, especially as the American workforce emerges from remote operations. It’s up to tech companies to not only foster an atmosphere of innovation and progress for today’s top talent across the country, but also to inspire the next generation of students to pursue STEM education through targeted outreach and community service.
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