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The Tech Talent War 2.0September 30, 2020

The tech talent gap has existed for years – ever since Facebook and Google started competing for talent back in the early 2010s.

Facebook iconLinkedIn iconTwitter icon

The tech talent gap has existed for years – ever since Facebook and Google started competing for talent back in the early 2010s.

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There’s a corporate war raging. It may have started as a battle between Silicon Valley giants, but now it has become a global competition pitting companies of all sizes and industries against each other. Whether an established industry giant or a new start-up, the outcomes of this war will define a company’s success – or lack thereof – for years to come.

This is referring, of course, to the global recruiting competition for tech talent.

Yes, it may seem silly to describe tech talent recruiting strategy in such dire terms. After all, the tech talent gap has existed for years – ever since Facebook and Google started competing for talent back in the early 2010s.

But thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation for many companies is dire. Recruiting and retaining highly effective tech talent has become a business imperative for every company navigating productivity and security concerns, managing a mobile and dispersed workforce, gearing up for rapid product and business transformation, and balancing smaller tech and security budgets. While many companies have figured out how to navigate new coworking platforms to keep bare-minimum operations going, learning how to replicate the productivity and results of in-person working is ongoing. And a dramatic increase in cyber threats, accompanied by a decrease in projected IT and tech budgets, put companies at risk. Maintaining strong, but cost-efficient, cybersecurity structures will require tech leaders with both the technical skills to understand cyber threats and the soft skills to ensure adoption and understanding across an organization – the kind of leader that other companies would love to recruit.

But even beyond the immediate threats, tech talent is crucial to companies from every industry working to bring major digital transformation strategies to life. Nearly every industry and vertical market has realized the need to re-design their infrastructure, products, services and culture to be more technology-enabled, value-driven and customer-centric.

The ability of businesses across industries to deliver on their promise of digital transformation boils down to having the right people with the right skillset, not the right technology. It is people who need to reimagine and fundamentally change the way businesses deliver products and services based on new demands. The sobering reality is that much of our workforce is not prepared to design and implement these high-velocity changes.

That’s why businesses of every kind have been fiercely competing for the kind of talent we would typically expect to see at large technology enterprises and start-up organizations. Regardless of their industries, companies of all sizes desperately need highly skilled talent to design solutions and products that deliver real human value.

In short, having a bench of highly effective tech talent is critical to future survival.

Given the stakes of the tech talent war, how can companies compete?

  • Offer tech talent what they truly care about.

Gone are the days of the tech talent war where companies could throw out campus perks and campus camaraderie as key selling points for joining an organization. After spending millions embedding incredible campus incentives and in-person culture benefits into their strategies to attract and retain talent, major tech companies are embracing remote work, announcing new options that will let their employees work remotely indefinitely.

If on-campus perks no longer hold the same power with tech talent, what does? A 2019 survey of uncovered the top four factors for tech talent:

  1. Opportunity for career advancement
  2. Competitive salaries & raises
  3. Ability to create change or have a voice within the company
  4. Ability to innovate and create new products, projects or ideas

Take the time to understand what your prospective employees care about. Communicate the critical role they’ll play in your company and how you see them contributing. Then, once they’re your employees, listen to them!

  • Communicate with tech talent like you would any other kind of audience – via data-driven communications campaigns.

To reach tech talent, treat your recruiting strategies like a communications campaign. Close the chasm between comms teams and HR and recruitment, and work together to reboot your talent acquisition strategies with data-backed communications campaigns. Once you understand the people you’re trying to reach (see above), map out critical messages and track your progress over time to see which communications tactics are the most effective.

The tech talent war is just going to get more competitive. In order to keep ahead of the pack, take the time to understand and revamp your recruitment and retention strategy – it just might be the key to your success.

Michael Ann Thomas leads BCW’s Technology practice.