As a Senior Digital Strategist at Anexinet, I advise and assist clients with the creation and adoption of digital strategies, enabling them to leverage innovative, modern, customer-centric business opportunities. At each of these digital strategy engagements, IT teams collaborate in lock-step with the business to drive and achieve digital transformation.
Contrary to the common assumption that IT is only focused on maintaining steady-state and “keeping the lights on,” today’s IT organizations clearly understand the importance of technology innovation to ensure business survival and success. However, executing on a digital strategy often means your IT organization must acquire additional skill sets and capabilities. Large enterprise IT organizations struggle with giving existing staff opportunities to learn new skills and technologies. In addition, attracting and hiring new talent is harder today than it was just 5 years ago, due to so many unique opportunities popping up daily, offering exciting careers in new technologies and fun work environments.
So, how do you retain your current staff while attracting new talent?
TechRepublic states the 10 most in-demand tech jobs of 2019 (according to recruiters and career-site experts) are:
- Cybersecurity Engineer
- AI/Machine Learning Engineer
- Full Stack Developer
- Data Scientist
- Python Developer
- Java Developer
- Cloud Engineer
- Scrum Master
- DevOps Engineer
We may want to add some IT specialties to the list: Blockchain, Virtual/Augmented Reality, and 3D Printing.
Today’s recruiters and hiring managers are in a candidate-driven job market and live with the harsh realities that candidates are likely being offered multiple job opportunities for the most in-demand tech positions, and are actively interviewing for/or are considering job offers from several companies simultaneously. And “ghosting” (a common dating term) also now has relevance to the hiring of IT professionals. Candidates no longer want to formally explain why they’re no longer interested in a position and instead simply ignore your emails, texts and calls.
In a prior life I was a statistician, so numbers like the following help me put things into perspective.
- A Capgemini/LinkedIn study states “Over half (54%) of the organizations agreed that the digital talent gap is hampering their digital transformation programs and that their organization has lost competitive advantage because of a shortage of digital talent.”
- According to a LinkedIn Talent Blog, “Nearly 60% of employers struggle to fill job vacancies within 12 weeks.”
- A 2018 ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey asserts, “Nearly one-third of employers say the main reason they can’t fill roles is a lack of applicants.”
As Digital Strategists, if we’re not also providing strategies to transform the way our clients find the talent to support the technologies they’re adopting, then we’re not adequately serving our client’s needs. And it’s not just about what investments are required (people, technology, process) to improve the client’s:
- Time to Hire
- Applications per Hire
- Offer Acceptance Rate
- Vacancies vs. Positions Filled
- Talent Pipeline Growth
It’s also about creating a Digital-Talent Strategy that encompasses what steps the organization must take to solve their short-term and future digital-talent challenges. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the following “creative” ideas:
- Incentivizing your staff to recruit employees via referrals
- Looking beyond your location when recruiting employees
- Checking industry-specific job boards to find employees
- Connecting with local colleges & professors to find employees
- Making sure your site Is mobile-optimized to minimize application friction
But while these recruiting strategies may suffice for some staffing projects, they’re definitely not a sustainable, scalable model for reducing the digital talent gap enough to keep building your company’s future. Organizations must align their Digital Talent Strategy through a lens of recruitment and retention based upon their Digital Strategy Roadmap. More specifically, we need to be honest with ourselves and identify the changes we need to make to attract, retain, and develop digital talent for our organization.
Here’s a great story from Business Insider about Unilever’s strategy for capturing sought-after tech candidates:
Unilever successfully digitized its initial screening process. Instead of the traditional route of sending its recruitment team to campuses, Unilever invites candidates to play 12 neuroscience-based games on their partner platform. Selected students are interviewed, and responses are analyzed before being sent to the hiring manager. Candidates who pass these two selection rounds are invited to Unilever’s offices. An estimated 250,000 candidates went through this process in 68 countries from July 2016 to June 2017. Unilever had seen significant benefits as a result of the program. For example, in North America:
- The application-to-job ratio doubled.
- The candidate pool hired was the most diverse to date.
- Time spent on applications decreased 75%.
- The offer acceptance rate increased 16%.
This strategy for finding the most in-demand tech candidates is indeed impressive and gave me a newfound respect for Unilever as a company and as a brand.
Remember, attracting talent is only one slice of the pie. A LinkedIn Learning report states, “As talent turns over, expenses balloon. The cost of turnover now ranges from 50 to 250 percent of each position’s salary.” That’s why your Digital Talent Strategy also needs to be about retaining your digital talent and developing digital talent within your organization.
I hope this blog raises awareness across your organization and resonates with your C-level. The challenge of the digital talent gap can no longer be viewed as just an HR or IT issue; it must be viewed as an organization-wide problem. The evidence is clear: without a solid Digital Talent Strategy in place, your organization is hindering its ability to maintain competitive advantage for modern-day customer-centric and innovative business solutions. If your organization needs any help maximizing the effectiveness of its digital transformation strategy, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’d love to help you get started.
Senior Mobile Strategist & Digital Transformation Leader at Propelics