What is war for talent and how your business can win it
March 1, 2024
min read

What is war for talent and how your business can win it

Eli McGarvie
Eli McGarvie

According to a 2023 ManpowerGroup survey, nearly 4 in 5 employers globally report difficulty finding the skilled talent they need. This statistic is the reality in tech recruitment, where the market is becoming flooded with talent, but companies are struggling to find 'the one' to take their products to the next level. The job market has become a fierce competition where winning the war for talent has become necessary for businesses keen on continual growth and innovation.

But why is winning this war for talent so crucial for businesses large and small? In a nutshell, a team full of the right tech talent boosts productivity and, ultimately, business success. The tech industry, in particular, moves at lightning speed, and companies without a skilled workforce risk falling behind. Winning the war for talent means securing the future of your business. So, if you're ready to lead your company to victory, here's all you need to know.

What is the war for talent?

Coined by Steven Hankin of McKinsey & Company in 1997, the 'War for Talent' encapsulates the ongoing battle companies face in attracting and retaining the best talent. But what does this mean for you as an it recruiter? It's simple: In tech, securing top-notch professionals has become vital for survival, so you need to deploy the right tactics to win. KornFerry estimates that the global talent shortage could reach 85 million people by 2030—and we're not too far away.

The concept emerged from a study that highlighted a critical insight: the success of a business is inherently tied to the quality of its employees. Back in the late '90s, this was a wake-up call for many businesses, emphasising that traditional recruitment strategies were no longer sufficient. The business landscape was changing, and with it, the rules of the game. Companies were no longer just competing for market share; they were also competing for skilled individuals who could drive that success.

Fast forward to today, and the battlefield has expanded. Digital transformation and globalisation have changed the playing field entirely. It's become a global contest, where remote work and digital collaboration opened up a worldwide talent pool. With technology advancing at an unprecedented rate, the demand for skilled IT professionals has skyrocketed. Niche skills have now become mainstream, and roles that didn't exist a decade ago—like data scientists and cloud solutions architects— are now pivotal to a company's success.

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Is the war for talent real?

Now, you might wonder if the term 'War for Talent' is just a dramatic way to describe the highly competitive job market. However, the reality of its existence is backed by hard data, confirming that this battle is not only real but intensifying, especially within tech. And your talent acquisition strategy needs to be well-equipped to survive the talent war.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics highlighted recently that the demand for software developers is projected to grow 25% from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there were 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs in 2023, with the talent supply and demand disparity possibly remaining until 2025. The evidence is clear: the war for talent is not only real but a defining aspect of the modern business landscape, particularly in tech.

How can employers win the war for talent?

In the thick of the war for talent, strategic talent acquisition and retention are any company's best allies. Let's explore some ways to not only catch the eye of top talent but also keep them engaged and committed to your cause:

1. Cultivate an attractive employer brand

Your employer brand is essentially your company's ID in the job market. It's what makes you stand out in a sea of job listings and LinkedIn posts. To build a brand that resonates with high-calibre candidates, start with transparency about your company culture, mission and values. Use social media, your company website and employee testimonials to tell your company story. Remember, today's top talents are looking for places where they can make a real impact and align with their personal values.

2. Offer competitive compensation and benefits

Sure, a competitive salary is important, but in the quest to attract the best, you'll need to think beyond just the salary packet. Highly skilled talent value a holistic package that includes flexible working conditions, health and wellness programs, and personal and professional development opportunities. Think of creative benefits like remote work options and wellness allowances. These can really make your company's offering really stand out.

3. Leverage technology for recruitment and retention

Utilising social media, AI, and other technological tools can significantly enhance your recruitment process. It goes without saying that these tools can play a pivotal role in keeping employees engaged—both present and future—through innovative communication and collaboration tools. AI can help in sifting through applications to find the best matches more efficiently, while social media platforms are invaluable for reaching potential candidates where they spend their time online. If you're a tech startup, getting on the best sites to hire developers for startups can also be a highly beneficial move.

4. Focus on employee development and career growth

It's been proven that investing in employee development is a clear signal that your company values your team's growth and sees its future as part of its success. Offering training programs, mentorships, and clear career advancement pathways are great boons to employee retention and attracting top-tier talent. Employees need to see a future for themselves within the company, so schedule regular discussions about career aspirations, performance feedback and visible promotion tracks to help reinforce their belief in a shared future.

How do you develop a winning HR strategy?

When it comes to winning the war for talent, the role of HR cannot be overstated. Winning is all about strategically developing and executing plans that successfully attract, retain and nurture talent. Let's break down how strategic HR management can be a game-changer:

1. Offer genuine junior roles

We don't know who needs to hear this, but stop requiring X years of experience for junior roles at your company—especially from recent graduates. There is an entire generation of young talent who focused entirely on securing top results for their degree and not gaining internships, hence why they lack work experience. The original point of the 'junior role' was so that the younger generation of workers were given the space to gain that sought-after experience in the real world, and, not too long ago, companies provided these opportunities to secure talent for the long-term as junior roles meant that young talent are given the platform for growth, leading to longer retention.

2. Implement data-driven recruitment

In today's day and age, data is king. Implementing data-driven recruitment strategies means leveraging data analytics to make more informed hiring decisions and forecast future talent needs. This could involve analysing employee turnover trends, identifying the characteristics of high-performing employees and using predictive analytics to find candidates who are not just a good fit for the role but are more likely to thrive in your company's culture.

3. Enhance employee experience

This involves every touchpoint of the employee lifecycle, from onboarding to exit. You need to create an environment where employees feel valued, engaged and, most importantly, motivated. Simple steps like streamlining the onboarding process or offering regular feedback sessions can make a big difference. Remember: a positive employee experience directly impacts retention rates as people are more likely to stay with a company that values their contribution and well-being.

4. Adopt flexible work arrangements

Post 2020, flexible work arrangements are no longer a fancy perk—they're an expectation of the modern workforce, with 61% of talent appreciating autonomy over their schedules. The ability to work remotely, have flexible hours, or even a four-day workweek can significantly enhance your company's appeal to potential candidates. Flexibility is now the mark of a progressive company that values its employees' work-life balance, making it a powerful tool in attracting and retaining top talent.

Key takeaways

It's clear that winning the war for talent demands a holistic and strategic approach that addresses not just your company's immediate need to fill vacant positions but also the ongoing mission to build a resilient, innovative and thriving workplace. From cultivating an irresistible employer brand and offering competitive compensation and benefits to leveraging cutting-edge technology for recruitment and retention—these tactics should be a part of your arsenal. But you don't have to journey into the battlefield alone.

At WeAreDevelopers, we connect you directly with our exclusive network of software engineers, particularly in Europe. Why scatter your role on generic job boards when you can:

  • Reach a targeted audience: Over 1.2M unique visits annually, centred on development and IT.
  • Engage with an active community: A yearly social media reach of almost 22 million and 120k+ members.

We have fostered a developer community that trusts us—and we can help you. We're the platform you need if you aim to make a real impact with your job listing. Ready to start winning the war for talent? Then, check out our IT recruiting services.


#Wanted and #Misunderstood: A Developer Survey 2023 (Full Report)

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#Wanted and #Misunderstood: A Developer Survey 2023 (Full Report)

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