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Top 3 Tech Recruitment Challenges for 2023 (and How to Overcome Them)

Hiring Developers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that by 2026, the shortage of engineers in the US will exceed 1.2 million. Indeed, over the past years it has become increasingly difficult to find qualified personnel to fill IT positions. 

Yes, the developer shortage still exists and yes, hiring companies are struggling to fill specific technical roles.

🔖 Related read: Top 10 IT Positions Companies Will Struggle to Hire for in 2023

As part of our ongoing mission to improve the tech job space, we surveyed 14,000 developers and recruiters from all over the world. We discovered much about hiring developers from our 2023 State of Tech Hiring survey, and were able to use what we learned to draft a list of tech recruiters’ greatest challenges:

A survey is only useful if you can leverage the data to your advantage, so we’d like to offer some top tips to tech recruiters for overcoming each of these 3 top IT recruitment challenges. Let’s break it down by challenge:

1. Finding qualified candidates (56.4%)

What’s the problem? 

There aren’t enough candidates trained in the tech field to keep up with increasing demand for skilled tech talent. 

Candidates don’t have the soft skills, experience, or formal education companies are asking for; employee demands and expectations are changing fast; technology is ever-more complex and learning institutions are falling behind…

There are multiple reasons why it’s tricky to find the right candidate for your tech job—and some positions are harder to hire for than others. We found that full-stack engineers are at the very top of recruiters’ list of hard-to-find developers. 30.4% of this year’s recruiter panel predict that they’ll struggle to hire full-stack developers in 2023. 

Top tips:

  • Remove IT degree requirements and consider non-traditionally educated developers

Removing the associate’s or 4-year-degree requirement opens the field to a huge number of possible applicants, many of whom may be well qualified for your needs.

Our survey revealed that 59% of developers do not have a university degree in Computer Science. In markets where requiring a CS degree is the “norm”, over half of engineers today wouldn’t meet that standard. *Read that again.*

Fortunately, about 80% of businesses do recruit developers with non-traditional academic backgrounds. Unfortunately, the 20% of companies who say they don’t consider developers without a degree has remained unchanged for the last three years.

Here at CoderPad, we encourage companies not to close themselves off to unconventional talent. A technical interview process should tell you whether candidates have the skills for the job. Some of our best developers come from non-traditional learning backgrounds—one is a former professional pianist!

  • Broaden your search for candidates

Employ multi-channel recruitment strategies to look for qualified techs in the right places. If you’re simply posting your job description and waiting for candidates to flock to you, you may never find “the one”. Let’s look at a few facts (from Challenger.inc):

  • 71% of companies find talent through employee referrals and internal hiring
  • 65% of companies use LinkedIn
  • 56% of companies use Indeed

These are excellent methods for finding candidates, but you don’t stop there.

Some of the best developers can be found through coding contests, for example. Or, you might find your ideal candidate on a less-known, developer-specific job board such as ITJobPro or Dice. 

  • Pursue passive candidates

According to Zippia, 73% of the world’s workforce is comprised of passive talent—people who are not actively seeking a job. Yet many of these passive employees would be willing to consider changing jobs, if a job that appealed more to them were to be offered. 

It wouldn’t necessarily have to be a higher paying job (although salary is often a deciding factor). Today’s tech employees value workplace culture, ability to work from home or on a project that greatly interests them, and opportunities for training/advancement. There are lots of perks that can be thrown into a job offer to make it appealing to an individual.

  • Attract candidates with good marketing

Potential applicants may be checking out your workplace unbeknownst to you. LinkedIn claims that 49% of all employees follow social media to watch for openings with companies that interest them. It is important to maintain current, accurate job descriptions on your company website, advertise special career events your company holds or participates in, post openings in college newsletters, professional developer forums, etc. 

🔖 Related read: How to Write a Job Description for Developers

A positive company brand attracts job seekers, but it doesn’t happen “effortlessly”—you have to actively market your company by creating and dispensing media demonstrating a desirable workplace that people would want to become a part of.

You can start small, putting effort into you LinkedIn company page, or you can go all out, like EQRx did last year, when they launched their “Tapestory” campaign

2. Identifying potential even if candidates don’t have the perfect matching skillset (29.3%)

What’s the problem? 

Many candidates have the desired degree and/or look great on paper, but don’t have the savvy or experience to solve real-world coding problems. On the other hand, candidates without traditional credentials or a plethora of professional experience may be the most qualified candidates for your opening.

In this year’s survey, we found that close to a third of developers consider themselves to be self-taught. Self-educated developers may have messy or unexpected resumes, but with the right screening process, you could find just the developer your company needs.

So how can you tell who’s right for the job?

Top tips: 

  • Assess candidates with real-life coding exercises and collaborative coding interviews

Use technical tests and challenges/games to assess an applicant’s technical skills. Make this a standard part of your recruitment process. Test your candidates with hands-on assessment tests that give them an opportunity to highlight their skills with real coding questions. 

Live, collaborative interviews can also be a great support for technical assessment, allowing you to observe how candidates handle themselves and the problem in real-world situations, compare candidate thought processes, evaluate the quality and innovativeness of their solutions and their capacity to communicate and exchange ideas.

  • Consider non-professional experience in your “X Years’ Experience Required” qualifier

29% of coders consider themselves self-taught (using free online and offline resources: tutorials, books, YouTube, etc.).

When these coders enter the market as developers, they have no official, quantifiable experience, yet job descriptions often require 3-5 years’ professional experience or some sort of qualifying credentials. 

These developers have likely been coding since their teens, winning contests, participating in Hackathons, and gaining skills through exercises such as coding games. They may well be more qualified for your needs than traditionally trained candidates who can perform all the book drills but have no experience winging it on their own.

Make room for non-professional achievements. Maybe your candidate took part in a recent CodinGame challenge? How did they rank? What did they think of the competition? Talk to them about it!

  • Create a pre-interview project

Many companies are embracing this technique. Give your candidates a real coding problem your company has already had to solve. During their interview, they can provide you with their solution and explain how and why they derived their answer. This can give you good insight into their ability and their approach to solving problems. 

With CoderPad take-homes, candidates can work on your task in their own time. You even have the option to set up automated grading.

🔖 Related read: Take-Home projects quick start

3. Standing out from other hiring companies to attract talent (27.6%)

What’s the problem? 

Because there are currently more tech jobs available than IT job seekers, companies find themselves in the position of having to compete for the top candidates. No longer does an applicant have to take the first job they find—they have the luxury of choosing the company offering the most appealing job. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to position yourself among the most attractive companies to work for.

Top tips: 

  • Build/improve/maintain a positive company brand

Your company culture and employee branding is key to winning the battle for the top candidates. With a strong, positive brand you will be able to attract the candidates who are most attractive to you!

According to Glassdoor, 92% of employees would consider changing jobs (with no salary increase) if the opportunity was with a company that had an excellent reputation. What’s more, up to 86% of job seekers say they would not consider working for a company with bad social standing.

Leverage social media to demonstrate transparency and highlight your company culture. Share photos, videos and stories of your employees enjoying their job or company events; advertise training and advancement opportunities—push them through your company’s Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn pages—any social media outlet where potential job seekers might be checking out your company. 

Host meetups, workshops, and hackathons, and invite outside participants—techies may participate for fun, and then be drawn into your company through their positive experience and association with existing employees. After all, 1 in 2 developers are thinking about quitting their job within the next year. Make them want to choose you!

Maintain and promote your career site and a company blog. Another opportunity to interest potential hires through engaging content.

  • Seek employee referrals 

What speaks better for your company than the fact that people who work there would recommend you as a workplace for their friends? At the same time, they are giving you great leads to pursue. It also tells your employees that you value their opinion, which builds community and is a strong motivator for hard work.

  • Offer work from home/flexible hour options 

The option to work from home is a huge draw for many tech employees. In many cases, when it comes down to choosing between two companies, it’s a deal breaker. 

In fact, developers rank “flexible working hours” and “remote working options” in second and third place (behind salary), when asked what matters most to them when considering a job offer (State of Tech Hiring in 2023). 

If your company can’t offer work from home options, at least offer the option for some flexibility in the work schedule.

  • Offer the highest salary possible.

We asked developers thinking about resigning, or who had recently changed jobs, about their motivations.

For the strong majority (67%), the top reason stated was to get a higher salary. 

Given a choice of two top-branded companies, salary will likely be the deciding factor. But don’t despair! If you can’t compete with top salaries, company culture, job flexibility and the right job challenge provide strong appeal for individuals who can afford to choose contentment over capital.

Today’s job market is not the market of yesteryear, and recruiters cannot sit with their feet propped on their desk waiting for candidates to come asking for a job. When it comes down to it, it takes a lot of hard work to find and win the top candidates.

The above tips we’ve shared are by no means a complete listing, but will hopefully give you some ideas and starting points if you feel you are not getting the quality of hires you need to propel your company forward and build your company brand.