Changing The Way The Industry Views Talent


September 27, 2019

We are currently experiencing an unemployment rate of 3.7% and simultaneously are seeing the demand for technical talent increasing.  In data provided by CompTIA, the technology sector was shown to have expanded by 135,000 jobs in June nationwide.  How is it that I stand in front of rooms of wildly capable people who have recently completed curriculum and certifications, yet are unemployed?  I hear their struggles of not being able to secure employment because of their lack of experience.  They continue to take course after course demonstrating their thirst for knowledge, desire to improve themselves and their commitment to finding a job.  I am seeing them demonstrate the key things most employers look for:  persistence, determination, responsibility and positive attitude.  Most often these interactions are followed by calls with employers who are actively trying to fill roles and at times have had the respective opening for 3-9 months. From a surface level it doesn’t seem to align.  How can we marry a candidate who is so desperate to prove themselves with the employer?  It all starts with changing the way we, as an industry, view building talent pipelines and the stories we are living by.

I can’t hire someone without experience because I have no one to train them.

This is true AND it is also your truth that for every moment the role isn’t filled, you are negatively impacting your ability to get product out or launch the idea that could be a game changer in your space.  While some of these candidates have not worked for a specific employer leveraging the skills they recently obtained, they have done projects and other creative tasks to practice what they have learned.  Retrospect is a beast because if we had known then what we know now, our decision criteria might have been altered.  For example, if we had known it was going to take 6 months and we still wouldn’t have found someone, we potentially could have had them trained by now.

We require a 4 year degree requirement.

In no way am I down playing the value of a 4 year degree but it is worth evaluating why organizations like Google and Apple have transitioned away from this requirement.  In addition to historically low unemployment rates, the pace of technology is changing rapidly.  Have you considered that the technology the student learns their freshman year could be obsolete by the time they graduate?  What is it about the 4 year degree you value and is there another way to test if the person has the aptitude beyond the degree?

I can’t take on new hires that have to be fully trained

The talent pipelines we are seeing aren’t always someone looking for their first job with limited career experience.  We are seeing veterans, women returning to the workforce and candidates looking for a career change.  While their raw technical skills might be new, their contribution to the workforce is extensive.  How do we value the work they have done against the roles currently available?

Now I recognize we are talking about a massive shift in mindset and policies.  Most of our salary bands and job descriptions reflect years of experience and degrees as their foundation.  It will take consideration to determine how salaries are adjusted and the models to help them gain the experience they need so they are productive. All of this is true.  What I am asking us to consider are the following:

  1. What do you value in a hire and what are ways to validate those strengths?
  2. In addition to performance on course work for technical skills, what assessments would you consider for the soft skills and aptitude?
  3. What is the makeup of your current team and how could you integrate someone with less practical experience?
  4. Are programs like internships and apprenticeships a vehicle to help you accomplish your hiring goals while the candidate gains experience?
  5. What is the risk of not exploring new strategies to build talent pools for your organization?