The uphill battle of hiring tech talent: What’s your edge?

Image by Dan76 for Shutterstock

Today’s job market is a boon for those looking for jobs. But for businesses trying to hire and keep tech talent, it’s a struggle – especially for technology companies. Though tech companies have recently shed some workers with layoffs, the highly skilled tech jobs are still in very strong demand.

The demand for staff isn’t likely to get any better for a while: The IMF predicts that the global shortage of skilled workers will rise to 85.2 million by 2030.

According to, there are 11 fast-growing careers that are in highest demand.

Here they are with their year-over-year growth percentage.

  1. Software engineer – 70
  2. Business analyst – 44
  3. Data analyst – 79
  4. Data engineer – 100
  5. DevOps engineer – 64
  6. Systems engineer – 38
  7. Software developer – 22
  8. Data scientist – 68
  9. Java developer – 14
  10. Full-stack software engineers – 138
  11. Network engineer – 48

The struggle for tech talent

If you’re struggling to hire software engineers, you’re not alone. On Monday, had more than 204,000 active software engineer job postings, with some paying more than $200k per year. Glassdoor had 71,000 jobs listed with a possible salary range of up to $279k. Meta (Facebook) alone has 527 jobs listed for software engineers. 

LinkedIn’s talent blog in July agreed that software engineers were the most in-demand overall and they have a higher-than average turnover rate.  

While the Dice report didn’t mention cybersecurity, we also know that security talent is in extremely high demand. A June 30 article in Fortune said that “companies are desperate” for cybersecurity workers. As of November 2021, there were 715,000 job openings to fill. 

In an analysis of more than 200 job boards looking at demand for cybersecurity skills, there have been 554,432 jobs posted for cybersecurity related roles in the past year. That’s up 63% year-over-year, said Raleen Gagnon, VP Global Market Intelligence at ManpowerGroup.

Image courtesy of Raleen Gagnon, Manpower Group. Data via Gartner’s TalentNeuron

How can you compete?

The hard truth is that you can’t compete with Meta, Google, Amazon or Microsoft. They’re huge companies with deep pockets. And skilled workers know what they’re worth financially, which means you have to offer them more than money. 

A soul or purpose is a good start. “Even though very large companies have name recognition and huge compensation packages, they also have their own set of problems,” said Valerie Brewer, IT Recruiter and GM of Global Recruiters Network Fort Smith. “Knowing and addressing these problems is where a smaller business can shine.”

Some reasons workers shy away from tech giants, according to Brewer:

  • To get closer to family – There is a whole country between the coasts (Fast Future country!) where the cost of living is usually lower. 
  • Work/life balance – Five weeks of PTO is meaningless if an employee doesn’t have time to use it.
  • Job satisfaction – People don’t usually enjoy feeling like a cog in a machine or realizing they aren’t learning and growing anymore. Or they tire of working on massive multi-team projects that fail due to lack of common purpose. 

“If a smaller firm is doing these things right, AND they also have a good culture, they should not have problems finding good people and hiring good people away from the heavies,” Brewer said.

Some large organizations are just terrible companies that treat workers poorly, pay lower than market value, get caught breaking the law, make unethical decisions and other bad moves that make potential employees cringe. With the job market so strong, workers have the freedom to avoid an ugly atmosphere. 

Go back to school

One way to boost your hiring prospects is to work with universities and try to get some new grads, either as interns or new hires. There are many within driving distance of most Fast Future companies, including some that are top-ranked or have recently gotten huge grants to boost their tech programs. 

According to U.S. News and World Report, some of the top software engineering universities are in Fast Future country, including the No. 1 school: Carnegie Mellon.It’s also tied for No. 1 in computer science (with MIT). Ranked fifth is University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Ill. North Carolina State and Purdue are tied for No. 9. But there are many more who are excellent at graduating good technologists.

Get to one of their career fairs as soon as possible so you’re on students’ radars throughout the coming year. Network with students, grad students and professors so expand your recruiting pipeline. Even if students start school with a goal of working at one of the biggies, things they learn could change their minds. Make sure you tout what makes your organization special. 

Don’t let them go!

When you have good people on staff, make sure they don’t leave for greener pastures. While you can’t prevent everyone from leaving, you can make staying more attractive. 

A recent survey by LinkedIn cited the tech and media industries as having the second highest turnover rate (12.9%), only surpassed by professional services (13.4%). So, tech leaders have a mountain to climb. 

“For a lot of folks, money is not the most important thing,” Brewer said. She listed some ways to keep good employees: 

  • Maintain the good work-life balance that attracted them in the first place.
  • Keep strong lines of communication open: Listen. Listen some more. Address concerns or ideas in a timely fashion.
  • Provide meaningful work.
  • Celebrate success and provide public recognition.

Though money isn’t always the driving force for job seekers, it’s still important. Financial growth for your employees should be a concern in your business. “Pay them a salary which is on par with market standards,” said Rajiv Talreja, author, entrepreneur and business coach on his YouTube lecture, “How To Retain Team Members?: 3 Ways To Avoid Attrition.” “You can’t expect people to focus on the work if they’re worrying about the money, so pay them as per market standards or a little even above it.”