IT Recruiting: The current tech job market situation must not be an excuse
October 12, 2022
min read

IT Recruiting: The current tech job market situation must not be an excuse

Barbara Oberrauter-Zabransky
Barbara Oberrauter-Zabransky

The search for qualified IT professionals is in full swing.

But it's not just in this country (Austria) that employers struggle to recruit talented developers - often through their fault, as IT recruiting expert Ana Gospodinova from the IT platform WeAreDevelopers explains. She knows how companies attract talented developers - and reveals the recipe for success for successful IT recruiting in this interview.

Q1. Recruiting software engineers and technical specialists is a major challenge for companies of all sizes. What are the greatest challenges and obstacles you are currently seeing in IT recruiting?

I currently see three types of challenges.

The first one is the market; this one you do not solve neither on company level nor short - or midterm.

The second challenge is internal and depends on the recruiting stakeholders like the hiring manager and the tech recruiter. Have you hired the right recruiter? Have you provided suitable training? Are both hiring manager and recruiter able to speak the same language and to establish a partnership? What is your recruiting process for hiring tech talent?

The third challenge is at the management level: What are you willing to change if you can’t attract developers? If you really want to grow your business, you need managers who are flexible enough to work with people of other languages and in other countries, and to nurture talent that may not match the job description one hundred percent.

Q2. WeAreDevelopers recently conducted a study regarding IT recruiting. Which results surprised you the most?

I was most surprised by the toxic work environment in which many software engineers still work. Racism and discrimination are palpable phenomenons for many. Toxic working environment is among the top reasons for developers staring looking for a new job as per 30% of the respondents. For women in particular, it's one of the main reasons why they leave a job – and that, in turn, has a strong impact on diversity in the company.

The relationship with managers has also proved problematic for many female and male developers: For almost a third of all respondents, a poor relationship with their supervisor is reason enough to look for a new job.

Q3. The fact is: we don't have many jobseekers in the technology labour market. How can companies increase their talent pool?

There are many possibilities that are currently underestimated by companies. It starts with job descriptions: they are often read far too literally. It's always about the role a person can fulfill in the team: Teams are dynamic – they build and loose skills over time. This is why tech recruiters shouldn't blindly rely on the job description. Requirements are always to be validated together with the hiring manager. This is the only way for companies to ensure that job descriptions are truly helpful in the search for new IT professionals and do not unnecessarily restrict the talent pool.

tech job market situation IT recruiting

A second option is to expand the requirements that candidates must meet: The more limited I search in terms of location, language and visas, the smaller my talent pool will be.

And third, there is always the possibility of training and developing existing staff. I keep hearing IT specialists say, ‘We don't hire them, we train them.’ Other companies could take that to heart.

Q4. What are the biggest mistakes companies continuously make in their search for the perfect IT employee?

The answer is already hidden in the question: Searching for the perfect one without having common understanding of what perfect is leads to candidates being rejected from recruiters but processed by hiring managers and vice versa.

Make it clear in the job ad why developers should apply to you, what makes you special and what makes the company so special! Include a few keywords about your tech stack, talk briefly about current projects, and mention a few tasks that need to be done.

A mistake I also often see is recruiters confusing job descriptions with job ads: Putting long lists of requirements in a job ad no longer appeals to developers – or any other applicant for that matter. Rather, the job ad is the place where you showcase and sell yourself as an employer.

My tip: Make it clear in the job ad why developers should apply to you, what makes you special and what makes the company so special! Include a few keywords about your tech stack, talk briefly about current projects, and mention a few tasks that need to be done.

Most developers are experienced enough to make sense of this. For junior positions, you can elaborate a bit more. Still, pay attention to any information you use in limited ad space – after all, it's meant to get applicants to click ‘Apply.’

Q5. Is there actually a recipe for success when it comes to IT recruiting?

From my perspective, there really is: Be fast, be market relevant, be transparent, respect the applicants and recruit together with people who know their job.

Recruiters need to have a close coordination with the respective department head and should position themselves as partners here, not as service providers. Also, they should enable specialists to take on the leadership role in the recruiting process. This is the only way companies can ensure that the right people are involved in the staffing decision.

I would also strongly encourage recruiters to be more respectful of applicants' time and commitment. This can be achieved by making every step in the application process as transparent as possible and giving applicants prompt feedback – even in the event of a rejection. Especially in the IT sector, there are not so many applications that there would not be time for this. My advice to recruiters is to simply pick up the phone and call all applicants who have received a rejection. This gives developers valuable feedback on their behavior in the recruiting process and at the same time keeps them in mind as a company that should be taken seriously, and ideally also recommended as an employer.

The recruiting process should not remain a mystery for developers: Make it clear up front what you expect, and give them relevant feedback at a professional level. This keeps you in touch and opens valuable channels for upcoming job openings.

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Q6. A tip you also often hear in IT recruiting is that companies should listen to the tech job market. How do companies do this – and what exactly should they listen to?

My impression is that companies are already reasonably good at listening to the market. The problem is that they don't do anything with what they hear - typically because the inertia in the company is too strong. There is more than enough information about what developers want and need – only the implementation is still lacking.

tech job market IT recruiting

My tip: Don't wait for the market to change, but start making changes yourself. The current market situation should not be an excuse: If you don't take steps to adapt to the circumstances and show flexibility, you can only rely on ‘post and pray’ – and hope that enough candidates apply.

Q7. Suppose a company has been looking for a software engineer for months and no one suitable has applied. What should it do, apart from hiring a recruitment agency?

Even an agency can't work miracles. Employers need to start asking themselves what changes they are willing to implement. Occasionally it's enough to simply change the recruiting process, other times it takes more profound changes.

Q8. Applicants today have the option to choose from a variety of job opportunities. How can companies stand out from the rest?

You can create an army of recruiters at no fee internally by being the best employer for your current employees. If you're a good employer for your current team, you'll not only secure the loyalty and commitment of your employees, but you'll also have an army of recruiters at your disposal: Make it as easy as possible for your people to share current job postings, and show appreciation for what your workforce has to say honestly. They're the best brand ambassadors to the outside world – and can catapult your recruiting process to a whole new level.

Q9. Finally, a conclusion on IT recruiting: how can it be done better?

Recruiting doesn't start the moment companies decide they need a software engineer. Recruiting starts at the moment companies decide on their leadership culture, hire their first leaders, and encourage them to create a supportive culture.

Especially when it comes to professionals as critical to success as developers, companies should take this to heart: Before hiring a developer, it's about building the optimal infrastructure to find the right fit. That includes transparent career paths, opportunities for growth and development within the company, and leaders who see themselves as mentors and coaches to their people.

By the time you write your job ad, all of these things need to be clarified and in place. Only then will companies know what makes them stand out as an employer – and be able to communicate that to the outside world.

Ana Gospodinova is Director Talent Management at WeAreDevelopers, one of the world's leading communities and job market for software developers in Europe. The intelligent job board is complemented by a video content platform for developers as well as virtual and physical events and makes WeAreDevelopers one of the most efficient solutions for the search for IT employees.


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