Recruiting technical staff during a skills shortage

It's no secret that the digital sector is experiencing a skills shortage, so how can you improve your recruitment strategy?

Skills shortages are running riot in a number of industries in the UK. One of the most severe is the talent shortage that the digital tech industry is currently experiencing.

A massive 72 per cent of large businesses and 49 per cent of SMEs are suffering at the hands of the digital skills gap, which mirrors a lot of the feedback I get from clients every day. These statistics will resonate with a lot of business leaders and HR professionals - but what can they do to protect themselves from this impacting their company? What actionable advice is there out there to help you take on staff during this skills shortage, which seems to be worsening?

It’s important for businesses to position themselves in the best light to ensure they don’t just gain, but retain talent – bearing the storm of the current skills shortage.

A happy workforce will safeguard your business in a candidate-driven market

Unsurprisingly, the noise surrounding the digital skills shortage has created a market that is being driven and manipulated by candidates. These professionals are pestered on a daily basis about changing jobs, so it’s understandable why they’re expecting inflated wages, for example.

But this doesn’t lessen the impact on businesses. And the best way to safeguard your company against this and sway candidates to choose you over a competitor, is to make your company a good place to work. One of the most important things for any business to remember, is that people talk. If your business is a brilliant place to work people will know about it. But equally if your staff are miserable, it won’t be a secret for very long. This is particularly prominent in the digital sector, where professionals are in and out of contract and permanent employment working on projects – meaning that they come into contact with a lot of different people in their field all the time.

You need to portray your business as a positive and comfortable place to work. Career progression plans, supportive teamwork, decent perks, and flexible working options are just some ideas that you could implement to make your workforce happier. And a number of digital job seekers would appreciate this over the inflated salaries that a lot of businesses are offering to try and attract them - in fact, reports back this up.

If your staff are shouting about how much of a good place your business is to work, and if your PR and marketing strategy is strong and reflects this, you might even find candidates are coming directly to you.

Why you need to follow a talent pipeline approach to recruitment

A happy workforce can also make approaching candidates a much smoother process. When you contact candidates directly, they are likely to be more open to talking to you about working for your company if they have heard good things about the culture of the business. And because of this, a talent pipeline approach can really benefit you.

The talent pipeline technique involves getting to know people that aren’t necessarily looking for a job immediately, with the idea that they will think of you further down the line when they are. Whether it’s going to networking or business events to meet potential candidates in a more relaxed environment, or dropping them a line on a social media platform – it’s all about approaching them in a less aggressive way than cold-calling. This is an age-old strategy for recruiters, but businesses can really benefit from it themselves in their talent searches. At some point a candidate will likely be looking for a job move, and if they know they can trust you, that your business is a good place to work, and that you know the kind of role they’re looking for – they’re more likely to pick up the phone to you than anyone else.

The benefits of talent pipelining in the digital sector are substantial. You will have more control over the kinds of people you employ, as you will be cherry picking them yourself. And on top of this, you will build a genuine and more trusted relationship with these candidates – which is important in this competitive market – and you will therefore know whether they are a good cultural fit for you before they even start, which will help you retain them long-term.

At the end of the day, it’s no secret that there is a worsening skills shortage in the digital sector. And what this means, is that businesses can no longer rely solely on offering candidates high salaries. Increasingly, job searchers will be considering where is the best place to work in the long run. It’s now the job of business leaders to create a business that people will want to work at in order to position themselves in the best way that they can to attract talent.

And on top of this, they need to ensure that they keep a steady pipeline of talent to safeguard themselves from falling victim to the woes of this candidate-driven market.

Peter Cobley, managing director at consultancy Found Us

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