group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office, company culture

How to become a beacon for tech talent during a skills crisis

group of young multiethnic diverse people gesture hand high five, laughing and smiling together in brainstorm meeting at office, company culture

Article by Heike Lieber, Head of Talent at Fluent Commerce

The tranche of tech workers from the UK’s newest generation, dubbed ‘gen z’, now have exhaustive job checklists, as the balance of power has tipped in their favour.

To capture their attention, tech roles must indicate a clear career path, offer flexibility and provide interesting work in a supportive, healthy environment.

With 70% of the tech industry experiencing skills shortages amidst the Great Resignation, it’s vital that organisations revise their hiring strategies to meet workers’ expectations.

This means HR and hiring managers will need to be fluent in what wins the hearts and minds of candidates if they are to hire and retain them for the long-term. In almost a reverse interview situation, only employers that deliver in policy and practice based around the candidates’ typical questions below will stand head and shoulders above the rest:

  1. Where am I heading?

Providing a clear career path supports both hiring and retention as workers can see a path for their own development. The youngest generation of workers want to see themselves making quick progress. Promoting from within provides a clear path to greater compensation and responsibility, and helps workers feel valued and an intrinsic part of the company’s success. Development frameworks will help staff plan their future and set key goals to get there.

  1. Can I be my true self?

First impressions are critical for candidates in the hiring process. All candidate engagement – from analysing content within advertisement to the first meeting – must eliminate bias from the process to build diverse and successful teams.

A strong diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy is vital.  Appointing a DEI manager and establishing a DEI group are great first steps, as well as obtaining certification as a Work180 employer. A ‘remuneration levelling’ process, removes workers’ personal details (including gender and age data) and allows hiring managers to compare and adjust salaries to that of similar roles in their respective countries.

It’s possible to look beyond the traditional university computer science degree to find the right candidates – for instance, to source excellent software engineering candidates by scouting recruits with coding boot camp certificates and highly rated coding work samples. Drawing on the wider talent pool of underrepresented candidates widens the company’s talent funnel.

  1. What are the pay and benefits?

Offering paid holiday is no longer enough when candidates are looking for the most competitive compensation package. Being transparent around salary, benefits and perks up front is vital – and requires regular review of your pay scales.

Despite a recent Skillsoft report showing IT salaries have risen by 6.5% in the UK, the pay package isn’t the main driver for workers to leave employers. 59% said a lack of growth and development opportunities are the top reason for jumping ship, even above higher pay.

Company culture also ranks high on the list of hardworking prospective employees, so making clear your values helps them to decide if it’s a mutually beneficial fit.

  1. What are the learning and development opportunities?

Embracing new and proven technologies, where individuals can continuously develop their skills, will keep them motivated and productive. For instance, understanding MACH architecture, (Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless) – this set of technology principles is behind new, best of breed technology platforms. With MACH, technical architects get to use these key skills they’ve spent years developing in the real world in real scenarios.

Prioritising professional development and providing a professional development allowance will support the investment in employees on supportive learning to build and strengthen their career – from a training course, to a tech event, or online resources.

  1. Are senior management accessible?

At people-first, high performing tech companies, managers often engage directly with employees and are highly accessible. Making quick and well-founded decisions, they hold themselves accountable for real outcomes.

It improves productivity if the senior team are transparent and accessible to staff with an ‘Open Door’ policy. Employee engagement surveys are a good tool for team feedback so that any issues can be addressed. The best talent, of course, will prefer a company where they believe their work has real impact and they feel a sense of purpose. If managers are unaccountable, they’ll think the grass is greener. Furthermore, employers who are their authentic selves from the beginning of the interview process will create a better foundation for the future relationship. Kindness is key and will not be forgotten!

  1. What’s the work/life balance?

In 2022, flexible working options are everything. Candidates now want the flexibility to work from home or wherever they choose and work the hours that work for them. In specifying the role is remote in the job description, but within compatible time zones will attract the widest choice of candidates – limiting hiring to local areas is more limiting but work out what works best for the team and tailor job advertisements accordingly. It helps to be specific about the extent of in-person work and make sure that all the necessary equipment and resources is prepared to ensure an optimal joining experience.

Investing in your biggest assets

Hiring teams have realised their workers are their biggest assets, with data scientists, developers, cybersecurity and digital experts among the most highly prized and sought after tech skills for modern digital businesses. But it’ll take more than just tweaking a few advertisements to lure and keep them.

Only through building a robust DEI strategy with objectives that align to workers’ needs – and living by their values – will employers be able to secure the best. True diversity and inclusion means policy and practice. It won’t happen overnight, but a review of hiring strategy and career development will reassure workers they are valued, supported, and motivated to deliver their very best work – for the long term.

About the author

Heike LieberAs Head of Talent, Heike is responsible for Fluent Commerce’s recruitment strategy to support the company’s aggressive global growth plans. Heike has over 15 years experience as a Talent Manager at premium brands such as Apple, Salesforce and hybris (SAP) as well as being heavily engaged in the start-up/growth ecosystem. With a global career, recruiting and living in Japan, Europe and Australia, Heike brings the experience and enthusiasm Fluent Commerce needs to maintain and grow our global workforce full of talented, fun and smart people all over the world.