The economic pressure and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic drove down hiring across the board. But as the situation begins to calm and companies seek to hire again, tech roles will be especially in demand.

According to CompTIA’s analysis, tech employment is projected to expand 2% in 2021 — around 20 times the net tech employment growth from the previous year. Experts don’t think the spike is a one-time anomaly, either. The need for tech talent will continue increasing as society becomes more dependent on technical products, services, devices, and solutions.

Tech hiring managers and corporate leaders must get creative when it comes to talent acquisition today. Instead of setting their sights only on traditional four-year degree pipelines, they must expand their search. Looking into more diverse talent pools, reskilling and upskilling existing staff, outsourcing tech workers, or even acquiring smaller firms with strong tech cultures can be worthwhile endeavors.

As companies get creative in the search for talent that can handle the quickly changing landscapes of artificial intelligence, machine learning, remote work security support, robotics, digital transformation, data mining, and more tech skills that are increasingly in demand, they’ll need strategic methods to attract great candidates. The following steps can help:

1. Look within first.

The easiest place to start is at your own company. Many employees might be interested in learning technical skills — but they never thought they’d have the opportunity. By giving them a path for lateral or upward moves into tech roles, hiring managers can capitalize on workers who are already in the system, aligned with the culture, and loyal to the company.

Finding possible internal candidates isn’t difficult, but it must start with a thorough assessment process. A widespread skills inventory survey can help leaders better understand the team’s proficiencies and gaps. After gathering and analyzing the survey details, leaders can identify candidates who have the drive and aptitude to learn new skills and begin seeking out or building a skills development program to get those candidates up to speed.

2. Update tech recruitment vehicles and processes.

Typical hiring processes usually include asking for résumés and then paring down applicants based on their work experience or college grades. Although candidate backgrounds and GPAs can be helpful, they’re not great predictors of on-the-job success. Someone with an impressive résumé on paper can still lack drive or ability. Consequently, hirers looking for tech talent need to program their AI-driven recruitment systems and assessment methodologies to include worthwhile, eager candidates who might lack direct technical expertise or credentials.

Similarly, recruiters can reframe the content of advertisements and distribute job descriptions in new places. For example, some businesses are recruiting from coding boot camps or other alternative skilling programs. Others are trying to find self-taught tech applicants through advanced social listening on sites like LinkedIn. Looking for tech talent in nontraditional locations can increase diversity within a company and benefit the organization in the long run.

3. Align HR initiatives with corporate goals.

Recruiters and hiring managers should spend time talking with a company’s executive leaders to understand how to forecast future talent needs. That way, HR can act as a talent consultant arm for the company. Plus, hirers can begin to create plans to bridge gaps and develop talent pipelines ahead of time. For example, HR teams can foster strategic partnerships with staffing sources such as talent accelerators and university resource groups, construct robust tech mentoring journeys for up-and-coming tech workers, and uncover ways for tech employees to offer interdepartmental solutions.

4. Provide an exceptional employee experience.

What sets one company apart from another to a tech worker looking for employment? The employee experience. This is a huge differentiator, which is why 92% of HR leaders called it a high priority for 2021. Top performers want to work for places that support trust-based flexible working structures, such as hybrid arrangements. They also value companies that care about their health and well-being and offer ample opportunities for professional development.

Tech talent today can afford to be pickier than ever — and they’re willing to say “no” to a job that offers good pay, but bad culture. Corporations need to put as much thoughtfulness into initiatives such as diversity, equity, and inclusion and workers’ well-being as they can. Leaders should also keep their fingers on the pulse of how employees’ wants and needs change over time.

As tech-savvy members of younger generations enter the working world over the coming decade, recruiters might eventually see more balance in the candidate-to-openings ratio. But for now, hirers should focus their attention on filling empty roles through innovative recruitment methods.

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