How to provide purpose when hiring tech talent

Providing purpose is key to recruiting top tech talent in today’s recruitment market. Here's how you can go beyond salary when hiring candidates.

There’s no denying it, the ‘digital skills gap’ is a perennial challenge faced by each and every organisation — whether working specifically in the tech sector or not. Making this challenge more tangible, recruitment organisation Hays recently stated that almost 95 per cent of employers looking for tech talent have encountered a skills shortage over the past year.

We’ve known for many years that this challenge exists, but how have the expectations of technologists evolved recently? And, what can organisations do to attract and recruit them?

Beyond salary: The evolving needs of technologists

It might sound cliché, but when it comes to recruiting quality tech talent, there’s still a ‘war for talent’ playing out in the industry currently. What’s more, thanks to a widening ‘skills gap’, it’s a candidate-driven market too — one where individuals with in-demand skills are very much able to be selective about their career moves, and also have a bigger influence over the salary and benefits packages they receive.

Although overall compensation is still a big priority for technologists, the pandemic in particular has created a shift among many job seekers and what they value and prioritise most when it comes to career moves. For instance, work-life balance, purpose, and the central motivations that drive them are just a handful of the factors that have grown in importance over the last few years.

In fact, these were factors highlighted in Hays’ recent UK Salary & Recruiting Trends 2023 report which showed that an organisation’s central purpose is important to 82 per cent of tech workers when it comes to considering a new role. In addition, 69 per cent also stated that an organisation’s commitment to providing a diverse and inclusive culture was an important factor too. When it comes to working styles, nearly half (46 per cent) said that a mix of hybrid working was also important to their decision making.

>See also: Three companies with great diversity & inclusion policies hiring now

Providing renewed purpose

When it comes to a re-evaluation of purpose among talent in the tech industry, this has largely come about from the fantastic role we’ve all seen tech play during the pandemic. The industry not only survived a turbulent few years, but actually thrived as the result of a much-needed ‘innovation by necessity’ mentality. This is particularly appealing to experienced technologists that want to continuously improve their skills and knowledge, and solve the challenges we all face with cutting-edge tech. After all, many technologists are not only prolific problem solvers, but extremely curious too.

Driven by what they’ve seen technology do during the pandemic, many now feel that the global climate crisis is yet another challenge that can see them play their own small, but significant, part. In my experience, a ‘tech for good’ mentality — particularly in relation to sustainability — has certainly become a strong motivating factor for candidates who are looking to pursue roles with only those companies that share their vision and sense of purpose.

No more box-ticking

It would be easy for tech companies to ignore all of these factors when they’re trying to recruit talent. We’re all aware of the so-called ‘tick-box exercises’ that companies in all sectors can create. However, by simply paying lip service to the matters and issues that technologists care about, they’ll find it hard to compete in what is an aggressive market for talent.

Regularly benchmarking salaries and benefits is certainly one thing all companies should be doing to stay competitive. However, this is just scratching the surface and doesn’t necessarily get to the heart of what people want in the current climate — again, as evidenced by Hays’ recent report.

In addition to salary and benefits, organisations need to work hard to develop truly people-centric policies. This includes setting out an authentic organisational purpose that chimes with the expectations of potential recruits and puts their needs — and those of current employees — front and centre. From there, you can build out the necessary policies that will motivate, encourage, support and evolve your existing talent, as well as that of the future.

In essence, you need to make individuals feel that they have a purpose within your organisation; can share your vision and values — and most importantly — make a positive impact for your company. 

Forward-looking companies that are actively investing in their people, will also attract talent as a result. For example, investing in learning and development, individual growth planning, and the measurement of employee experience and satisfaction — to name just a few — are all examples of how companies should be building their businesses. By actively doing these things, their reputation as a destination employer will grow and they’ll find it much easier to attract the right talent.

>See also: Four ways to build technical talent

Investing in purpose and people

Put simply, making a sustained investment in people and purpose are vital when it comes to attracting tech talent. The last few years have certainly highlighted how tech can shape the world for the better and as a result, there’s a renewed sense of purpose among technologists. It’s on organisations to now shape their offerings so that these new expectations and needs can be met. Those that actively do so, will find themselves better off in the long run — particularly in a market that is already short on talent.

Lorraine Rew is head of talent acquisition at xDesign.


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