IT hiring has cooled, but the talent market is still strong - SmartBrief

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IT hiring has cooled, but the talent market is still strong

IT hiring may have cooled recently, but savvy leaders must seek ways to retain top talent, even amid layoffs, writes Maruf Ahmed.

5 min read


IT hiring

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Earlier this year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics painted a concerning picture of the employment decline in IT. That decline has begun to even out, showing signs of recovery as tech giants realize (for arguably the second time in the past decade amid increased cybersecurity concerns) that, when possible, IT departments should be omitted from layoff considerations. In many cases, headline-grabbing layoffs dug too far into IT departments. So, how can organizations quickly scale their workforce? There are several imperatives for leadership teams to keep in mind.

Maruf Ahmed

First, make sure you have a clear plan and hierarchy in place. Confirm that your human resources and finance departments align with the budget, timeline and levels you’re looking to hire for. Clear job descriptions are also critical. 

Second, automate the process as much as possible. This is essential for larger organizations with hundreds (or thousands) of applicants. Consider how you can use AI to scan resumes, create job descriptions, respond promptly to candidates and keep the process moving. Highly skilled tech talent will not wait around during a lengthy hiring process. Make sure that your operations run smoothly, effectively and quickly.

Hiring teams should also avoid several common mistakes made when hiring rapidly. Ensure you address any potential hiring biases to ensure a diverse candidate pool. Also, make sure to tap personal networks for candidates. Job boards are helpful, but also consider personal connections, referrals and industry events.

The role of external recruiters and consultants

Many organizations have successfully mitigated the choppy talent waters by adding partnerships via staffing firms and workforce solutions. Frequently adjusting staffing models can be a time- and resource-intensive endeavor. Leaning on partners with experience guiding organizations through similar shifts can spare precious resources for other initiatives. Plus, such firms will often have insight into niche candidates like specialized developers, cybersecurity and AI engineers and architects well-versed in the latest AI developments.

In addition to niche roles, external hiring firms are often the most adept at identifying and recruiting C-suite and senior leadership roles. However, there are pitfalls to avoid when working with a staffing or recruiting firm. Organizations must communicate their needs to the external firm, provide timely feedback and be open to suggestions. The external staffing firm could have valuable industry insight regarding talent that the employer may need to be made aware of, and to maximize their partnership, organizations should approach the process with an open mind.

Organizations have also turned inward to upskill workers where alternative solutions like consultants and staffing firms might not work. This ultimately — as has been displayed across the board — adds long-term value for the worker and organization. 

Recruiting firms as strategic partners beyond hiring

In an uncertain economic environment, organizations must cut costs. While we recommend continued investment in tech, ways to be efficient and strategic in conserving resources exist.

There are other ways for companies to cut costs, including consolidating vendors and expanding existing relationships with specific vendors. Leaders can also look to nearshore and offshore initiatives and improvements in project management, data analysis and process optimization. These approaches enable organizations to tap into a global talent pool, optimize resource allocation and enhance flexibility, leading to greater resilience.

Beyond recruiting firms, any IT or tech vendor that positions themselves as a strategic partner, not just a one-off vendor, will likely endear themselves to the client and set the relationship for long-term success.

Leverage tech investments to recruit, keep top talent

Tech and IT talent are especially sensitive to and will notice the investments an organization is making in this department. Organizations that appreciate the business advantages of investing in a digital foundation and transformation work to optimize efficiencies and cut spending will make themselves more attractive to technologists.

IT relies heavily on the knowledge economy and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future as trends in cybersecurity, cloud computing, automation and information security shift. The rapid advancements that drive these sectors have given IT workers the upper hand in adding value to organizations looking to stay ahead of competitors and mitigate risk.

Organizations that may otherwise look to cut costs also see the benefits of tech innovation. Remote workforces, outsourced HR activities, and the emergence of artificial intelligence, machine learning and IoT all improve the bottom line for organizations while expanding the available talent pool.

Staffing and recruiting are ultimately about human connection and communication. Implementing machine learning tools allows organizations to apply conversational analytics to gain valuable insights from job candidate-related discussions to help make more informed recommendations and improve staffing outcomes.

Consider talent a long-term investment

Choppy markets can make it difficult for C-suite leaders to hold on to IT talent — especially when these workers are often highly skilled and making lucrative salaries. 

However, recent market and labor trends have demonstrated that leaders must resist over-focusing on the near-term labor market. Macro-level factors indicate that IT staffing will continue to play a critical role in cybersecurity and digital transformation as employers look to upskill their workforce on emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence.

The economy will accelerate once again, as all cyclical things do. It can be easy to remain shortsighted with immediate financial concerns. Still, organizations wishing to stay at the front of industry advancements must have staffing strategies that flexibly fit the environment. Organizations that make deep cuts in IT staffing risk falling behind more agile and future-minded competitors.


Maruf Ahmed is the chief executive officer of Dexian, a staffing, IT and workforce solutions company with nearly 12,000 employees and 70 locations worldwide.

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.


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