7 technical recruiting trends for 2021 and beyond
A full year since the pandemic gripped the world and its impact on technical recruiting trends can not be understated. Whether it’s from the rise of AI to companies learning to embrace the remote working landscape, the industry speculates that the changes we’ve seen over the past 24 months could be here to stay.
As tech recruitment professionals, staying innovative and ahead of your competitors is vital to succeed. This article will examine the most current and relevant tech hiring trends for you to keep an eye on.
Navigating a widening digital gap
COVID-19 has accelerated the expansion of e-commerce, online education, digital health and remote work all out of necessity. These shifts will continue to dramatically transform human interactions and livelihoods long after the pandemic is behind us. The effect on tech recruitment trends are apparent too.
Where there is rapid development there is also the potential to exacerbate inequality. Respondents to the Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) rated “digital inequality” both as a critical threat to the world over the next two years and the seventh most likely long-term risk.
Source: World Economic Forum
Such expansion requires significant investment in up-skilling and re-skilling. However, public spending and policymaking capacity to reduce the digital skills gap will be limited after COVID-19— especially in low- and middle-income countries.
This digital inequality has the potential to impact hiring practices because the industry is increasingly turning to online solutions. The ability to access data and digital technologies are widening between and within countries. Internet usage ranges from more than 87% of the population in high-income countries to less than 17% in low-income countries.
As many companies look to diversify and attract varying perspectives in their organisations, tech firms will need to take notice of the growing divides and find creative ways to promote and hire inclusiveness from harder to reach places.
Remote work and interviewing
Perhaps the biggest change in our day-to-day lives is the fact so many of us now are working from home. But for those in the job market, the situation is not as clear. Digital nomads had always faced physical obstacles, but now their indifferences are being met by the rest of the world.
This ‘new normal’ has normalized remote-working and resulted in the mainstream adoption of technologies to support virtual collaboration, communication, and working from a distance. Remote workers say they’re happier than before, but the sea-change brings with it a different set of issues.
Platforms that assist companies to hire talent remotely have become in-demand. Almost every industry is looking for ways to diversify their talent pool amidst a socially distanced pandemic.
A challenging talent pool to negotiate
As one of the industries to enjoy near constant growth over the past decade, software development faced new challenges during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, both for employers and their workers. However during the pandemic, their roles became even more critical, as we all came to rely on software in our daily lives.
With the advent of remote hiring, recruiters now have access to a global talent pool of fresh, up-skilled developers from all corners of the globe. The widening of the talent pool is both an opportunity and a challenge for recruiters, and many companies are still figuring out how to navigate the global talent landscape.
By having access to more candidates, you also open up the floodgates to receive a lot more applicants than you likely would with a local search. This can actually make it more difficult to find top talent, especially if receiving more applicants slows the hiring process.
The 2020 Worldwide Developer Population and Demographic Study showed the worldwide developer population continued to grow by 500,000 in 2020, reaching a total of 24.5 million. COVID-19 did slow that growth though, to 2.4% versus the predicted 4%. With a larger talent pool and a streamlined remote recruiting process, tech recruiters may be asked to acclimatise to a more competitive environment than before.
Looking at the job markets, early drops were the trend of the first lockdowns but technology hiring did bounce back toward the end of 2020. In the US alone, tech occupations grew by 391,000 positions in December, with software developer and application developer roles accounting for the largest share of new postings. The uplift in jobs means that global tech hiring will not only be about trying to stand out from the local competition. But also trying to distinguish themselves from the conventional industry standard.
Research from Glassdoor indicates that 70% of people now look to reviews before making career decisions. Not a new concept, but the relevance of candidate experience has become the flavor of the month recently.
Casting an eye on global technical recruiting trends helps paint a bigger picture. Unemployment is at record lows in Canada, the US, and the UK. In September 2020, there were 0.8 unemployed people per job opening in the US, which means there are currently more open jobs than people looking for work. To give that number some perspective, in 2009—it was 8 times higher, with 6 unemployed people per open job.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
What this means is, top-tier candidates have their pick of the jobs on the market. “Perks” and “benefits” that were once considered frivolous—like workplace culture and employers that respect their employees’ development goals and work/life balance—have now become critical decision-making factors. To qualify that, recent research from Glassdoor finds that 77% of candidates (from the US, UK, France, and Germany) would consider a company’s culture before applying there, and 56% of respondents say culture is more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction.
Diversity and inclusion
A popular talking point in technology recruiting trends is the impetus to diversify. Diverse companies attain 19% higher revenue than monolithic companies on account of greater innovation. Providing education and training that underrepresented groups may not have had access to in the past can foster innovation by exposing employees to new skills and ideas.
Big tech companies began publishing annual diversity reports in 2014, but few have made much ground, especially in hiring Black employees. Facebook, for example, has gone from a workforce that’s 3% Black to 3.8% in the past six years. Others also are in the low single digits. These organisations say they value diversity, but maybe it is diversity of another kind they are looking for.
A growing number of prominent companies have reformed their HR processes in order to access neurodiverse talent; that is, people who are “outside the box” thinkers. Neurodiversity is the idea that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are the result of normal, natural variation in the human genome.
The latest HR tech trends prove that this method for recruiting talent is increasing. A growing number of prominent companies have reformed their HR processes in order to access neurodiverse talent; among them are SAP, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Willis Towers Watson, Ford, and EY. Many others, including Caterpillar, Dell Technologies, Deloitte, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, and UBS, have start-up or exploratory efforts under way.
Analytics, automation and AI
More and more companies are adopting progressive approaches to the three ‘A’s we see mentioned here and are at the forefront of technology recruiting trends.
6.1) Analytics – A European Union skills shortage led them to identify data analytics as one of the biggest areas of deficit that needed to be improved. The use of analytics across talent acquisition delivers data-driven insights to identify areas of strength and weakness, as well as helping to reduce the cost of talent acquisition practices. Streamlining the hiring process is at the forefront of every HR boss’s mind.
To draw two trends together, the demand for data analysts has encouraged the Australian Defense Department to develop a neurodiversity program in cybersecurity. The participants superior pattern-detection abilities are a good match with the kind of tasks data analytical roles have on offer. The case for neurodiverse hiring is especially compelling given the skills shortages in data analytics that afflict technology and other industries.
6.2) Automation and AI – While the past few years have allowed many big tech companies to dabble with AI, machine learning, intelligent automation, and other similar solutions, 2020 was a watershed year for many.
AI is trending because the technology is able to be hyper-productive without expending a lot of energy. Companies are recognizing the power of matching traditional process automation with AI to deliver greater efficiency and accuracy of enterprise automation efforts.
Decisions historically made by humans: diagnosing health issues, choosing investments, assessing educational achievement and resolving legal disputes—are increasingly being made by sophisticated algorithms that apply machine learning to large data sets.
Retaining and re-skilling
Another technical recruiting trend that has really ramped up since the pandemic is recruitment departments having to do more with less. According to this LinkedIn study, 1 out of 2 talent professionals expect their recruiting budget to decrease. This mean recruiters need to be more efficient with similar hiring demands but lower budgets. One such approach is re-skilling the existing workforce within your company. According to the same LinkedIn study, there has been a 20% increase in internal mobility since the onset of COVID-19 year over year.
At a time when developers are hungry for new opportunities this concept plays in well. In the 2020 Stack Overflow developer survey, developers claim that wanting to work with new technologies is the second highest priority of looking for a new job. As employers, it is crucial to offer this opportunity to your valued employees if you want to retain them. Offering the opportunity to work on new projects that require an additional skill set will help keep hold of your workforce and save costs with a reduced recruitment budget.
Source: Stack Overflow
The costs associated with recruiting tech talent are huge. This year, HR departments are having to get creative with their recruitment budget while still retaining their existing workforce. By ensuring that there are new opportunities to current employees, your chances of holding onto them long term will dramatically increase.
Summary of technical recruiting trends
It’s a futile exercise to predict how the global economy will shape up over the next six months. But for the tech industry, optimism is never a cause for concern.
The opportunities and challenges we face in 2021 will only fuel the next set of bright advances that are waiting to be conquered. Technical recruiting trends are just that – trends, but the speed in which the hiring landscape has changed in five years tells us the next five years are going to look a whole lot different.