It has been said for some time that, “great talent is difficult to find.” This is not only said in my little niche of technology recruitment, but rather all over the place covering many industries and a variety of workforce population. We have heard it in retail, restaurant, manufacturing, and many others. It seemed to be a phrase I heard used by my parents, but now is being used by my generation. Frankly, that phrase is over-used in the technology space.
Is there a shortage of actual talent or perceived talent? The answer varies depending on the person or people doing the hiring. But is it a shortage of talent or is it a company’s inability to mold to the current workforce supply?
I’ve heard many clients say that a particular position has been open for 6 or more months. That is a tremendous amount of time to be looking for a highly “needed” person. Challenging a client can be tricky waters to navigate, but at the same time we are generally the experts when it comes to understanding the supply and demand of technical talent. So, we do choose to challenge them if it makes sense and ultimately could help their business grow. If you have gone almost a year without filling a vacancy, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you really need this person?
- Are the expectations appropriate?
- Is the role exciting for someone coming from the outside?
- Would it make sense to alter what you are looking for in a candidate?
I am often amazed at how #4 sparks quite the debate. Many people would rather see a role go unfilled than take a look at specifications and make modifications. After providing good, validated information on what the market has available for new roles, we will still often hear something like, “No, I’ll hold out a little longer because I think I really want someone at architect level.’ This is when the impact is pushed to the emerging techies simply wanting a chance. We speak with candidates on a daily basis who are either recent college grads, recent programming boot camp grads, or people already in the technology space who are seeking new roles in software development.
Sometimes, taking that recent grad or junior developer and investing time and training into him/her will yield great results. Those results might seem an eternity away, but actually getting production or some impact is generally not as far away as you would think. How long has that position been open again? 9 months. Ok, I’m guessing you can get some good results from that eager, sponge-like college grad who has some programming foundation in 9 months. Ambition can carry a lot of weight.
It is widely known in Chicago and elsewhere that mid-level talent is one of the biggest gaps in the market, especially when it comes to development roles such as within Microsoft .NET. I practically hear the term “mid-level .NET developer” in my sleep lately! If I had a warehouse full of them, I’d be onto early retirement. However, the reality is there are not many of them out there. The ones that are out there are generally gainfully employed. So, I challenge you as a hiring manager to be flexible. You do not have to compromise on quality, just be a little open-minded and willing to invest in someone. You may actually learn something yourself!