A Strong Employer Brand Wins the Tech Talent War

by Tim Plamondon

A Strong Employer Brand Wins the Tech Talent War

As COVID-19 continues to impact the economy and our way of life, companies struggle with the surge of tech problems needing solutions. Some companies are planning tech projects to better prepare and manage for things like this in the future. And other companies are not.

All of this means that there will be a surge in demand, which is already happening, for tech talent. But, the demand for tech talent still outstrips the supply of skilled talent. In other words, the tech talent war is still raging. Companies will need to have a strong employer brand to win the tech talent war.

Because the tech labor market has unique challenges, creating an employer brand to attract and hire top tech talent has specific problems. If your company lacks the internal resources to tackle these specific problems, including outside experts can help. Recruitment process outsourcing providers (RPOs) are typically a great option. This post explores the importance of focusing on hiring tech talent and having a strong employer brand to win the war of tech talent. You'll also gain insight into why an RPO partner can help you be victorious.

What's the State of Tech Investment

Some companies have already made massive investments in technology and are planning and managing tech projects to stay prepared for future crises.

McKinsey & Company reported on some agile moves companies have made during this current crisis. They include:

  • Sales Models Changes: McKinsey's Pulse Survey showed that 96 percent of businesses had used technology in numerous ways to attract customers and give compelling sales pitches.
  • New Channels of Distribution: Food distributors used digital tools to create new direct-to-customer channels. These innovative channels have enhanced food distribution to restaurants.
  • Leveraging Relaxed Regulations: Automobile maker GM and home appliance manufacture Dyson took advantage of eased regulations to use their technology to make ventilators. Overnight, medical-device manufacturing companies had new competitors.

However, Deloitte reported, "Most organizations do not have a tech stack in place for a reliable business continuity plan (BCP)." And with the increase of remote work, "IT departments, will play a larger role in future BCPs, and will need help from IT service providers in procuring devices, setting up a resilient, flexible and secure network, disaster recovery systems, IT security, etc."

The Deloitte report further shows that companies will need faster access to data and automation. As a result, they'll need to "focus on network equipment and communications as never before, speeding up 5G network deployments and adoption of 5G equipment."

With IT departments' roles growing, companies must start investing in technology and hiring tech talent.

Why Investing in Tech Innovation Now is Important

Companies can no longer run as they did before January 2020. The coronavirus burned previous playbooks of success. It disrupted customers' ability to pay, and new needs and restrictions usurped the conventional wisdom of growth in the marketplace.

In the ordinary course of marketplace events, shifts, downturns, and upturns happen. Businesses adjust and adapt to these occurrences to stay ahead of their competitors; after all, the business world is uncertain. From the mid-1990s, technological advancement's disruptive power has forced businesses to move quickly to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. In the 21st century, this disruptive force has increased its capacity. And the current pandemic has magnified technology's disruptive power.

Understanding the opportunities that crises such as our current one presents helps companies gain a competitive advantage in the long run. During the economic recession of 2008, the Boston Consulting Group surveyed 400 major companies around the world. Their major finding was that companies did too little, too late. In the same McKinsey & Company report mentioned above, it showed that during the 2008 recession, companies that stayed focused on innovation were stronger for it. They bested market averages by 30 percent and experienced blistering growth between 2012 and 2017.

Therefore, now is the time to invest in technological innovation. Furthermore, companies will need to make hiring tech talent a part of that investment.

Why It's Important to Focus on Hiring Tech Talent Now

Why It's Important to Focus on Hiring Tech Talent Now

Per a recent Harvard Business Review piece Frankiewicz & Chamorro-Premuzic, the "digital transformation is less about technology and more about people." It's true, companies can invest all they want in software and technological infrastructure, but without good tech talent, their investment in tech will be like squashing water. Companies will need top tech talent to adjust to present and future digital demands during this pandemic and beyond.

It can't be emphasized enough; the current pandemic gives employers ample opportunity to reposition themselves toward a brighter future. Companies that make the right hiring moves now will see the same success that Hewlett-Packard had after World War II (WWII). At the end of WWII, engineers streamed out of U.S. military labs. The founders of HP took advantage of the situation and hired those fleeing engineers. As a result, they became one of the largest electronic equipment manufacturers in the United States.

With that said, there exists a paradox. While the crisis is creating a surge in demand for tech talent, the demand outstrips the supply of skilled tech candidates.

The State of the Tech Talent Market in the Age of COVID-19

In March, The Wall Street Journal reported that demand fell for software developers, system engineers, project managers, and other tech workers in February.

However, according to a recent Randstad Sourceright report, companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Zoom experienced a sharp increase in hiring software engineers because the pandemic forced virtual work onto society. The report highlights that "job postings for Java and full-stack developers rose 8% and18%, respectively."

And despite the pandemic, the tech talent market remains highly competitive; a talent shortage still exists in specific IT fields. Whether there's a pandemic or not, that talent shortage will drive demand for hiring. CIO magazine highlighted 10 of the most sought after IT positions. Among them included AI Architect, Business Intelligence Analyst, and Data Analyst.

The tech talent war doesn't seem to notice the pandemic. For a while, some parts of the IT labor market saw decreases in hiring; other areas saw spikes. With the talent shortage in specific tech skill sets, remote work becoming the new reality, and people continue to make online purchases, the battle to attract and hire top tech talent will continue, pandemic or not.

A Strong Employer Brand Wins the Tech Talent War

What will differentiate the victors from the vanquished in the tech talent war? Strong employer branding.

A strong employer brand starts with understanding how it functions to attract and engage tech candidates. An employer brand reflects how current and potential employees perceive your company's culture and values. This perception differentiates your company from the competition.

The foundation of the employer brand is the company's Employee Value Proposition (EVP). Patty Silbert, President of Newton Talent, defines EVP as "the essence of what every employee in the organization perceives who you are and what you offer them in exchange for the skills and work they do on your behalf." Silbert adds to this definition, "the external market also has perceived notions of who you are based on employee conversations, review sites, and past employees."

Suggested: Recruiting in Turbulent Times: Why your EVP is more important than ever [webinar]

As you can see, your EVP provides the strength an employer brand needs to attract and hire top talent. Your EVP acts as a marker. It marks your firm as an excellent workplace. It also acts as a magnet pulling in candidates who would most likely support your company's culture and values. A well thought out EVP will retain, engage, and persuade employees to become brand ambassadors.

With a solid EVP undergirding your employer brand, your company can aspire, attract, and create a positive candidate experience. When your employer brand does those three things, your company will win the tech talent war.

An RPO is Your Strategic Ally in the Battle to Attract and Hire Top Tech Talent

Employer branding is a long term strategy. You can't merely create an employer brand and end it there. When you don't have the internal resources to build a strong employer brand and deploy it, a Recruiting Process Outsourcing (RPO) makes a great strategic partner.

An RPO works to understand the business of their client first. Tech talent is specialized, and each company has different tech needs. Therefore, each company will have a different workforce model.

RPOs work hard to understand the workforce model of a company and understand the challenges the business faces. This knowledge helps them adapt to the company's hiring needs to implement tools across its workforce plan. And it allows an RPO to convey what it's like to be a software developer on a project and understand its culture and leadership philosophy. As a result, the firm gains a strong employer brand to attract high demand tech talent in a small skilled tech talent pool.

When an RPO gets to know the company, it can map out the existing processes. This mapping out process gives it the insight to help improve that current process. For instance, if your EVP needs improving, an RPO can use its insight from understanding your strategy to see where your EVP needs to be better.

An RPO will propose ideas about making improvements in a way that doesn't diminish your identity. Your hiring process remains within the context of your employer brand. In the end, the RPO and its client establish a true partnership.

Silbert points out, [RPOs truly focus] "on forming strategic partnerships to transform recruitment processes so that they can help clients achieve its long term business objectives. Through a thorough implementation process, it creates the opportunity to be more consultative in the relationship. And it also offers a combination of knowledge of people and services."

To That End

RPO providers are considered strategic partners. An RPO works hand-in-hand with their clients' to promote their employer brand. This approach is a big differentiator between RPOs and staffing agencies.

The RPOA hopes this article gave you a good understanding of why it's essential to focus on hiring tech talent using a strong employer brand. Working with an RPO partner will help you develop a strong employer brand, especially when you don't have the internal resources.

To learn more about employer branding and RPOs, please visit our RPO Academy for free RPO resources.

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