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How To Fight the Tech Talent Shortage

Is it possible to fight the development talent shortage? Yes, it is. You need to focus on the following 3 areas.

Brandon Roberts

By Brandon Roberts

Business Development Executive Brandon Roberts helps BairesDev scale via business expansion, sales growth, and continual increases in profitability.

10 min read

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The notion of talent shortage has been floating around the development industry for years now. It’s only natural: With companies increasingly turning to tech solutions to solve their current business challenges, engineering talent has become a precious asset. Unfortunately, the number of engineers available isn’t growing as much as the demand for them is. 

That has become even truer ever since the start of the pandemic, which forced companies to digitize themselves even further or risk disappearing. Such an effect had an even bigger impact on the talent shortage, and companies are struggling to find software engineers. In fact, according to a recent CodinGame developer survey, 61% of HR professionals reported that finding engineering talent is their biggest challenge for 2021.

The problem is particularly dire when it comes to finding talent specialized in cutting-edge technologies such as AI, machine learning, and blockchain. Additionally, cybersecurity and data science experts are also hard to come by. That leads to a situation where big enterprises monopolize the available talent (with a big help from their vast budgets and resources). In that context, the remaining companies find it almost impossible to compete for engineering talent. 

That disparity isn’t the only problem. If companies can’t have access to the talent they need to develop their custom solutions, then innovation can become stagnant, which can hurt the diversity and drive of the entire business landscape. 

So, the question becomes obvious: Is it possible to fight the development talent shortage? Yes, it is. You need to focus on the following 3 areas.

Internal Talent Upskilling and Reskilling

We’ve already talked about upskilling and reskilling in this blog, but I’m insisting on it because it’s one of the keys to defeat the talent shortage. If you can’t find what you need to fill your talent gaps, why not look to your team as candidates for those roles? 

Of course, you’ll need to prepare your employees for making a switch into a new role. On one hand, you might have to train them to increase technical skills that they may already have. This works best when you’re promoting employees with a technical background, such as engineers or tech-savvy marketers. Through an upskilling program, you can provide them with the skills they need to tackle their new roles. That program might teach them new programming languages, development models and techniques, and new tools. 

On the other hand, you might have to develop promising talent that may not have the tech skills you need for your engineering roles. In that case, you’ll need a reskilling program that provides them with abilities they are lacking. By doing that, you’ll be able to relocate them to new positions and fill your gaps.

You can naturally establish both upskilling and reskilling programs at the same time so you can boost your team more effectively. For maximum chances of success, you’ll need to make sure you’re training the right people. That calls for talent assessment and evaluation that identifies the best candidates for upskilling and reskilling. 

Talent Network Expansion

Remote work is completely redefining the business landscape. This working model relieves companies from having to restrict their hiring to local candidates. This, in turn, allows them to fish for professionals in a larger talent pool. In light of that, it’s no wonder that remote work is becoming commonplace right now—it expands your talent network, letting you find more qualified candidates for your professional gaps. 

Remote work is in the spotlight right now due to the pandemic, but it isn’t the only way to expand your talent network. When searching for engineering talent, you’ll focus on experienced software developers and other experts related to the industry. That’s the obvious move. But when you’re dealing with a talent shortage, you have to get creative. That’s why you should consider looking for candidates that might not fill your requirements but have the potential to do so.

For instance, you can start a promising youth program, where you hire younger candidates for your open positions. Sure, they may not have the experience you are looking for, but a young candidate might have the necessary soft skills to make a good developer. So, you’d only need to teach them technical skills, which are far easier to learn than those soft skills.

You can even go beyond the tech industry and consider people from other sectors. Again, they’ll lack the technical skills or experience you require, but you might get talented people with great soft skills, like creative thinking or teamwork. It’s important to note that, while they might not seem like it at first, all these candidates are rough gems waiting to be discovered who can help you with your engineering talent shortage in the midterm. 

Talent Recruitment and Retention Upgrade

Since hiring qualified talent has become a highly competitive practice right now, you need to do your best efforts to land the candidates you’re seeking. In practical terms, this means that you need to improve your talent recruitment and retention processes. You can’t expect to win in this competitive context with traditional hiring practices—you need to leverage the power of today’s hiring tech.

That might mean different things. Perhaps you can integrate AI into your hiring process to better identify candidates with a particular profile among countless applicants (that’s precisely what we do with our team-building suite, Staffing Hero™). You can use talent recruitment platforms to access valuable insights and huge distributed talent pools. You can even use machine learning to weed out your recruitment biases.

The retention front is as important as the hiring one. If you have a high employee attrition rate, then all your recruitment efforts will be for naught. That’s why you need to make sure that your company has a retention strategy that covers all the aspects to keep your best professionals around. A lot of things can help in that respect, from using automation tools to help make their jobs easier to creating marketing campaigns that improve your employees’ perception of you.

Don’t treat hiring and retention as different things: They are usually 2 sides of the same coin. Hiring the best professionals can help you attract other top professionals while fostering a good environment for your current employees can attract the best professionals in the best place. Both of those practices are crucial when facing a talent shortage. 

The Fight Starts Now

The talent shortage is an unfortunate reality for companies in need of development talent, and it has been for quite some time now. So companies need to step up and start fighting it with whatever means they have. Outbidding each other and poaching candidates from one another a la the Wild West doesn’t cut it anymore. Companies need to innovate their hiring and retention processes in whatever way they can.

Beginning with these 3 initiatives is a solid 1st step. Are they enough? Not quite, but they can put your business at less of a disadvantage. There are other alternatives to help you face the talent shortage (such as partnering with a staff augmentation services provider), and you’d do well by adopting as many as possible. 

Whatever you do, one thing is clear: The fight against the talent shortage has to start now. Are you ready for it?

Brandon Roberts

By Brandon Roberts

Brandon Roberts is a Business Development Executive at BairesDev based out of San Francisco, California. His experience working with major tech companies helps him successfully assist in sales growth, business expansion, strategic partnerships, and increased profitability.

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