Opinion: How to secure the best tech talent
The pandemic has created a frenzied expansion of DevOps roles fuelled by cloud-based activity, and the automation of different tech stacks to deploy and write code. Faced with managing the advent of so much more cloud-based development, companies are frantically looking for DevOps professionals with the experience required to maintain continuous and even accelerated development.
There are other tech roles also in high demand. It’s no secret that a great data scientist is hard to come by, but an all-in-one data wizard who possesses every skill required to conceptualize, create, maintain and productionalize successful data models that can drive business decisions – is a rare breed indeed.
Those worth their salt are frequently snapped up by multinationals, leaving a small subsection who may prefer to work for a tech start up or scale up – however, they may need convincing.
What can tech companies actually do to secure the best talent in an age where hiring just got harder?
Tap into a Trade Secret
Here’s a trade secret: when it comes to complex roles that are in high demand, you would think it would be very difficult to attract the right candidates. Yet in fact, the opposite is actually true. It’s actually remarkably easy to target these people because they are digital natives, and likely to be present on digital marketing channels.
Because tech people have specific skills that are related to specific technologies, it makes sense to use these as keywords in digital marketing campaigns. For instance, if you’re recruiting for DevOps roles and you throw out buzzwords Amazon AWS, Azure, RedShift, and digital products like Jenkins – if you target recruitment activities against these words, you’re going to hit DevOps people. Similarly, if you target keywords like Hadoop and Python, you’re going to hit data scientists.
If firms can embrace digital attraction, and use it as an element in a dedicated recruitment marketing strategy, it may go a long way to ensuring that the correct people see the job adverts and campaigns - and to make sure recruitment budget is not wasted on unqualified candidates.
Social media can also be a big help in targeting people who meet specific criteria. While traditional job board adverts can be seen by anyone who uses appropriate search terms, targeted social media ads can only be seen by people who meet specific criteria. This could be qualifications, experience, specific skill sets or even location; with Facebook, LinkedIn and Google targeting capabilities, there are a range of possibilities which can ensure only suitable candidates see your ads.
Stop Chasing Unicorns
The data science polymath is about to become as rare as another Newton or Goethe. Instead of trying to hire multiple unicorns, organizations may be better off following a more flexible approach to getting the data science talent they need.
It’s better to use your own best people to define the data sub-specialisms and hire against that. The data scientist is a new and evolving position, and the same criteria will not likely fit for everyone. With data science roles, you have to have an evolving view of what a senior, intermediate or junior position looks like and requires.
Someone may have done a master’s degree in data science, but the fact is, these courses for the most part have only been around for a few years. By the checkbox criteria, that person may not yet have the skills to be a data scientist in a lot of organizations. It’s a new discipline which will fragment over time, and specialty qualifications will emerge within it. Organizations must understand the complexities of the roles and be more flexible in their hiring practices in order to secure good data science talent.
Recruiting for highly specialized roles is a bit of a new discipline, and companies need to begin to look at non-standard routes to hiring. Limiting roles so severely and only considering, for example, Ivy League or Oxbridge maths graduates with several years’ worth of experience is unlikely to end up in success. There may be candidates with 10 years of experience or industry veterans who are perfect, but who did not attend the very top elite schools.
Beyond this, online education is improving at a Moore’s Law type of pace. Components of data science can be learned to a practical level without the need for a STEM PhD. Hiring for raw aptitude or transferable skills can pipeline talent for scale.
Consider the Passive Candidate Market
LinkedIn is a useful recruitment platform, and their paid job ads are pretty good, but there's a key flaw. The key flaw with LinkedIn is that it only addresses the active candidate market. If there are five million software developers in the US, only 15 to 20% of them may be actively looking for positions.
Relying wholly on platforms like LinkedIn means you've ignored 80% of potential candidates. With the right message and the right communication, tech companies may be able to attract someone who wasn’t even looking for a new role in the first place. It’s a bit like advertising: the same way companies win new customers for products people didn’t even know they needed or wanted, companies may be able to attract new candidates.
When it comes to hiring and scaling, tech companies certainly have their work cut out for them these days, but with a little innovation, and an open minded and flexible approach, firms can be well positioned to attract the very best tech talent, and to continue scaling products competitively.
5 Ways Leaders Can Create a Healthy Workplace Culture
This week (14th-20th June 2021) is Men’s Health Week. Physical and mental well-being have been important considerations for leaders over the past year, and it is essential this focus is maintained as we build back for the future. Here we have asked 5 experts for practical tips leaders can implement to create healthy workplace cultures.
Know the early signs of burnout
Recently it was reported by the BBC that burnout for health and social care staff had reached emergency levels.
Monkey Puzzle Training Co-Founder Karen Meager has studied the burnout recovery process in partnership with Coventry University: “The past year has seen people suffer from job-loss worries, work from home challenges, isolation, and feeling overworked. These are continuing, and all have the potential to contribute towards burnout. Healthcare workers, executives, leaders, managers and small business owners will continue to be the top people to suffer from extreme burnout.”
“At the onset of burnout, people commonly enter a phase of denial. So leaders need to be aware of those who are reluctant to take their time off, are compelled to work all hours, or have changes in their behaviour or mood, as these can all be indications of burnout taking hold. Encouraging them to take a burnout self-test provides a starting point to supporting these employees through recovery, as is role modelling healthy sustainable ways of working.” Karen suggests.
Encourage professional self-reflection
Creating an environment that encourages self-reflection is an effective tool for promoting personal development. Journaling may not be something you instantly think of for professional development; however, it is a successful technique for adults to aid mindfulness and productivity. “Journaling is a form of self-expression that can empower you to understand your feelings and ambitions and how to deal with them, therefore promoting positive well-being and a healthy workplace culture,” describes Elisa Nardi, founder of Notebook Mentor.
“Just 15-20 minutes of journaling a day over the course of four months are enough to lessen the impact of physical stressors on your health,” explains Elisa. “It can also inspire creativity, aid your memory, and help set actionable goals. It is an underused tool that can help employees manage tricky workplace situations such as conflict, illness or new leadership roles.”
Manage your stress and resilience too
As a leader or manager, often, your complete focus is on the business or protecting your team, but you cannot pour from an empty cup. Leaders should also have strategies in place to manage their own stress, so they can sustain high levels of positive energy throughout the day. “Fueled by a burning desire for success, I ignored all the warning signs of exhaustion, which eventually took its toll on me - I literally collapsed from stress, and I didn’t even see it coming.” reflects Sascha Heinemann, an expert in Performance Recovery and Stress Resilience.
“When leaders manage their energy, create healthy daily habits, and practice resilience, they are able to perform to their fullest capacity and to provide the best possible support for others.”
“Taking a break every 90 minutes or so helps you to refuel, recharge, and re-energize and ultimately allows you to get more accomplished, in less time, at a higher level of quality, and more sustainably. This role model contributes dramatically to a healthier, more engaged, sustainable, and productive workplace culture," he adds.
Instil a sense of purpose for your team
The idea that success equals working 12-15 hour days and giving everything of yourself to your workplace continues to prevail in many organisations. This is not healthy, nor is it productive for anyone involved. “The healthiest and happiest workplace cultures are the ones that are organised around purpose.” describes business and life coach Anand Kulkarni.
“Leaders should be giving meaning to the work they are doing within their business and beyond and sharing this purpose with their staff, rather than focusing on long hours, crippling workloads or someone else’s idea of ‘success’. When people understand why they are doing what they do and how this contributes to something greater, productivity and well-being is increased.” adds Anand.
Promote well-being from the top down
Leaders need to act as role models if well-being is to become embedded at the very core of the organisation. It’s very unlikely that employees will start acting in a new way that puts their own needs first if the leadership team continues to behave in an entirely different manner.
‘Many organisations have worked hard in recent months to put new policies in place that better support well-being, promote hybrid working and attempt to set clear boundaries, but many leaders seem to assume that they are exempt from it all, that’s when it all falls over’, explains leadership experts Martin Boroson and Carmel Moore, from The One Moment Company.
A recent ONS report into Homeworking in the UK revealed that people are on average working 6 hours extra per week, and many are working until late in the evening, indicating that the boundaries between work and life are more blurred than ever.
“Despite all of these wonderful opportunities for people to self-organise, if the leadership team continues to work in the office Monday to Friday, or are communicating at all hours, then it’s a clear indicator that hybrid working is simply a ‘bolt-on’ tactic rather than an integral part of the company’s approach to promoting the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.’