HR Query, Recruiting, Technology

HR Query: Skills Gap or Waning Interest? Why Tech Leaders Can’t Find Talent (Part 2)

Welcome back to HR Query! In Part 2 of this two-part series on attracting and retaining top-talent with the technology sector, we dive deeper into how HR leaders and organizations can combat the difficulties of the tech talent shortage. If you missed Part 1 of our coverage, featuring John W. Mitchell, President and CEO of global trade organization IPC, you can find it here.

Tech recruiting firm CEO Richard Walker says lowering the barriers to entry are key to a win-win for talent and organizations.

“Even with open-minded recruiting processes, many would-be hires are left out of the talent pool due to the cost or accessibility of the technical education needed to get off the ground,” Walker told HR Daily Advisor.

Walker is CEO of York Solutions, an IT consulting firm that uses a non-transactional, values-based approach to provide clients with custom workforce solutions to achieve business, technology, and operational goals.

Read on to gauge Walker’s insights about why the tech industry has been slow to change the way it procures talent, how HR leaders can tap top talent in a tight labor market, and more.

Why has the most innovative industry been so slow to change the way they evaluate and attract talent?

RW: Technology is complicated, but people are more complex. Despite all the advanced technology available to us, it is harder and harder to find talent in the IT industry. Part of this is due to the fact that changing human behavior is much more difficult than changing technology. For decades, technology has been an industry that has been in high demand. Candidates were competing for coveted roles, which were limited. In recent years, the tables have turned, leaving companies vying for the coveted talent. This means our hiring practices need to evolve, which is not as easy as developing new code.

To change one person’s mentality and approach is difficult, but to change an entire industry is another challenge entirely. Understanding what motivates talent to join an organization is difficult and changing people’s thinking about hiring is hard. This industry is complicated, with
technology itself becoming more and more sophisticated, but the crux lies in the fact that despite all the advancements, we continue to find an interesting dynamic; people are more complex.

How much human potential is wasted by society’s outdated belief that a degree is more valuable than life experience and true potential?

RW: An insurmountable amount. Candidates without a degree may check all the boxes except for one: a piece of paper. The traditional, albeit flawed, way of thinking is that for a person to add high value to an organization, they must have gone through the typical education system and acquired at least a four-year degree. While education is important, requiring an education eliminates many people from consideration, even if they are otherwise qualified. The reality is that earning a degree does not directly correlate to having the practical skillset needed to excel in IT: grit, determination, problem-solving skills, and having a technical mind. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Candidates without traditional schooling provide just as much value – if not more – than those who have an education.

There are countless reasons that higher education may not be feasible for some. It could
be financially unattainable, or there could be obstacles in someone’s family life. As seen
in my theory of the Socioeconomic Pyramid, going to college is out of the question for a
large portion of our society. Many times, it goes further back than one might think; to a
person’s childhood and the way they were raised. I have seen countless individuals who have every tool needed to succeed but are penalized because they learned these skills outside of a classroom or a lecture hall. Instead, they were built and garnered from years of life and work experience, which can produce an even stronger mindset in some people.

Why do we give so much power to a piece of paper when making hiring

RW: There is a simple answer to this question: because that’s the way it has always been.
Humans are creatures of habit. If change isn’t actively needed, we will not seek it out.
Resumes are a prime example of this; They have been the primary tool to screen a
candidate for so long that nobody thinks twice about using them as the “source of truth,”
when in fact, they only give us part of the story.

Resumes are not inherently bad or wrong, they are just an inadequate tool when used to
measure a candidate’s potential. Resumes are a great starting point to determine a
candidate’s past accomplishment, but many candidates don’t outline the information
needed to convey their true experience. Without specific key words, the resume will
never be seen by a recruiter. At the same time, some people are dishonest in their resumes
because they know that it is the one thing that will get them through the door for an
interview. This limits a candidate’s ability to paint a clear picture of their true potential as
a future employee, which limits a hiring manager’s understanding of the true impact a
candidate could have.

Most resume and interview screenings rely heavily on work and education experience.
Many believe that having a degree or years of professional practice automatically
qualifies you for a particular job, but this mindset has a massive flaw. An individual with
less years of experience or no formal education could have a far more significant impact
on a company than one with a Ph.D. and a stronger resume. Their likelihood of
succeeding in a role is much more complicated than a few-paragraph summary of their
life, but most will be ruled out in the beginning stages because of a piece of paper.
So, all of this begs the question…is there a better way?

How can you hire the best talent in a highly competitive market with a finite pool
of talent?

RW: You want to leverage every option available to you to increase the probability of being
the most attractive option for a candidate. Consider removing your educational requirements, looking past resumes and taking a creative approach to hiring. Additionally, consider leveraging a hiring partner who specializes in your industry. With the additional resources a hiring partner offers, your chances of successfully hiring the absolute best talent greatly increases because they specialize in hiring in your industry. These organizations dedicate thousands of hours to hand-picking candidates. They also have the time and resources needed to maintain a proactive approach to finding talented individuals. It is their specialty and mission, which means you will have more access to the best talent.

Human resource capital is the most important asset to all companies, why are IT
managers not trained on how to hire?

RW: IT managers come from a variety of backgrounds and may have varying levels of
experience in the hiring process, but typically they do not specialize in recruiting. While
some IT managers may have received training on how to hire, it is not always a standard
part of their education or professional development. Unfortunately, many managers compare candidates to themselves and fail to understand that hiring is a two-way street. Hiring IT talent is not only a matter of the potential candidate being the right fit for the position, but more importantly, if the company itself is the right fit for the candidate. To hire the best talent, it is important to remember that these candidates have more options in front of them than ever before, so keeping the candidate experience top of mind is crucial because the odds are high that they are interviewing with several other organizations. It’s important for IT managers to understand the basics of effective hiring, so they can ensure that they are hiring the best candidates for their team and helping to drive the success of their organization.

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