By the Time You Finish Reading This, Your Tech Job Post May Be Outdated

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Sep 25, 2020

As the rate of technological advancement and change continues to accelerate, new tools are being developed and released at such a swift pace that no individual tech professional can stay on top of them all. Consequently, this leads to talent gaps that can delay digital transformation. For example, a recent study found that “only 23% of organizations believe they have the talent required to successfully complete their cloud native journey.”

But how do you outline skill and experience requirements for technology that is evolving so rapidly?

The old qualifications around education and experience are not applicable when we’re referring to software that has only existed for a few years, or even less. Instead, there are other ways to tailor your job postings to attract the right talent.

Keep Qualifications Flexible

Rigid adherence to specific minimum qualifications, such as possession of a bachelor’s degree or X years of experience in the field, turns off many talented technologists. Many of these individuals do not come from traditional educational backgrounds; they may be self-taught, have chosen not to attend college, or possibly didn’t even finish high school. Computer science degrees teach theory, not practice, so in many cases someone who has learned by doing and consulting forums and other resources may be far more able to perform the necessary tasks than a CS graduate. 

In your job postings, rather than focusing on traditional qualifications, highlight specific skills, knowledge areas, and job tasks.

Go Beyond Salary and Benefits 

The latest Open Source Jobs Report from The Linux Foundation and Dice found that while salary is the strongest motivator for most technology professionals to move jobs, there are many other considerations at play. The second strongest motivator is the ability to work on new and exciting projects. 

Looking at the same report from a slightly different perspective, only 3% of technology professionals said money and perks were the best thing about their jobs. The things they liked most are the ability to work on interesting projects (30%), collaborate with a global community (19%), and the opportunity to work on the most cutting-edge technology challenges (16%).

Highlighting in your job postings the types of technology that employees will work with and the kinds of projects they will be able to work on can be highly effective in driving initial interest. Technologists want more than a job — they want a community where they can innovate, learn continuously, and collaborate. 

Focus on Verifiable Training and Certifications

If formal training is important at your organization, list topics or knowledge areas that a candidate needs to have been trained in. Enable candidates to cite external trainings, bootcamps, and eLearning courses (rather than just degrees) on their applications.

The most important thing is to ensure that said training is verifiable. University courses can be verified with a transcript, but others may necessitate a certificate of completion or a verifiable badge to demonstrate the applicant actually completed the training. Likewise, depending on the technology in question, it may make sense to require candidates to hold a certification that can be verified for validity. 

Keep in mind, though, that not all certifications are equal. The gold standard are performance-based certifications, which require candidates to complete real-world tasks in simulated environments. Multiple-choice exams, on the other hand, merely test rote memorization, which may not translate to actually performing tasks on the job. It’s important to test abilities rather than only knowledge. (Also consider reviewing discussion to determine which certifications are actually respected and up to date.)

Consider Skills Tests

Skills tests can be a useful tool in the hiring process, though less so at the recruiting stage. These should be reserved for when a candidate is further along in the hiring process. 

There are options for skills tests, including simply having the candidate interview with a technical expert from your organization who can verbally present scenarios and ask the candidate how they would respond. It is also possible to develop written or computerized exams to test a candidate’s abilities. 

Unless you are recruiting a large number of individuals with a specific skill, then in most cases it will not be worth developing an internal test. Technology advances so rapidly that your exam could be outdated not long after you start administering it. Typically, if you need this level of validation of a candidate’s skills, a performance-based certification requirement will be more effective as a long-term solution.

Don’t Overlook Internal Training

Finally, invest in your existing teams. In some cases, technologies are so new that there simply are too few individuals with expertise in them to meet demand. Training existing employees can help close skills gaps within your organization. If manpower is an issue, you can also recruit promising candidates who may be lacking in a particular skill and then train them before they even begin work. 

In summary, hiring managers should consider new ways of attracting talent that do not rely on the old playbook of simply listing minimum qualifications, roles and responsibilities, and salary and benefits. Avoid turning off potential candidates from the start by making qualifications flexible, looking for verifiable evidence of skills, explaining the soft benefits along with the hard ones, and demonstrating your organization is a place that employees can collaborate, learn, and grow. 

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