Did you know there are more than 1 million unfilled tech jobs in the U.S.?
That might come as a shock to you, especially considering more teens and young adults are being pushed toward STEM fields to increase their odds of getting hired out of college. How can a field that’s growing so quickly struggle to fill so many vital roles?
The answer is that the changing landscape of tech makes it difficult for both companies and employees to keep up. This puts recruiters in an especially tough position as they’re tasked with finding unicorn candidates who check all the right boxes.
Understanding the challenge of tech recruiting
Recruiting is challenging enough as it is, but there’s something uniquely difficult about tech recruiting. If you’re recruiting in tech for the first time your usual strategies won’t work. You’ll need to adopt a faster timeline, open your mind to more unusual candidates, and more. Let’s dive into some common tech recruiting struggles and how you can overcome them.
1. There aren’t enough qualified candidates
As a recruiter, you’re probably already aware that this is a candidate favored market. The global talent pool is shrinking with record low unemployment rates. There are now fewer candidates with the skills required for technical positions and this gap is even wider if you’re looking to recruit for the tech industry. That means your recruiting strategy will need to change.
The tech industry is already short 1.1 million workers and by 2030 that number could be as large as 4.3 million. Where do you find qualified candidates when the number of skilled workers seeking new jobs keeps shrinking? The answer isn’t orthodox, but it does work.
Stop looking in college classrooms
Tech giant Apple has already taken the first step in sourcing new talent. Instead of insisting on a four-year degree in a related field, Apple announced they are no longer requiring a college education for job applicants. This has opened up the talent pool to self-taught software developers, people who have taken coding boot camps, and more.
That’s not to say that you should ignore candidates with a college degree, but rather stop ignoring those who don’t. When you limit your scope for who can and can’t be qualified, you limit your potential talent pool.
Look for transferable skills
You might be wondering how you’re supposed to judge candidates’ qualifications without a degree and the answer is by looking at their skills. And not just their specific technical skills, you’ll want to look at their transferable skills as well.
Transferable skills are any skills a person has acquired throughout their life, career, or hobbies that can be applied to different situations. As an employer, finding a job candidate that doesn’t fit the exact job spec can actually be a blessing in disguise. These job candidates can be taught on the job skills needed once they start while bringing unique perspectives and viewpoints to your company.
The runway time for teaching a new employee how to use new software is much shorter than you think. It’s time to start thinking of skills as assets rather than requirements. Don’t count someone out because they worked in customer success for twenty years and are looking to make a career change. Instead, see how their unique skill set might benefit your team.
2. Direct competition from larger companies
A few names probably come to mind when you think of tech giants: Google. Facebook. Apple.
While these juggernauts might not be your competition in business, they are direct competitors for global tech talent. Tech employees have the in-demand skills that these big companies are looking for and given the chance to work for a world-renowned company, most candidates will take the chance.
You’ll need a special strategy to out-recruit the likes of Google or Apple. The good news is that there are a few tricks you can use to seal the deal.
Rely on your employee ambassadors
When it comes to recruiting tech talent, your current employees are an untapped resource. Not only do they understand what it takes to be successful at your company, but studies show that 84% of people trust recommendations from friends or family over any other form of marketing. That means there’s a greater chance of success when you encourage your employees to refer people in their network or share jobs on social media.
Looking to up the ante? Offering your employees a bonus for referring potential candidates. These employee referral programs incentivize your staff to help you recruit new talent while filling the recruitment pipeline with fresh candidates.
Many companies take this a step further by using employee referral software to optimize the process. These solutions allow you to track which employees referred candidates, monitor their place in the recruitment pipeline, and post jobs to internal job boards. Streamlining your applicant tracking process will help you find qualified tech candidates faster. All of the perks with less work!
Offer incentives other than money
There’s a lot of money in tech. If you’re just starting out as a company you might not have the budget to throw at candidates the same way a big three tech giant might. Thankfully, studies show that employees are looking for more than just a paycheck. Flexible working hours, growth opportunities, and better work-life balance are among some of the more sought after perks.
Offering competitive pay is still important, but throwing in the option to work remotely or an extra week of paid vacation could sway them to sign with your company. Remember, there’s always something else you can offer a top tier candidate to seal the deal
3. Candidates expect an accelerated hiring timeline
Are you moving fast enough for top tier candidates? Unless your candidate life cycle is two weeks or less, you might be too slow. Research shows that more than 50% of candidates believe the hiring process should take between one and two weeks, while the actual time to hire hovers around 38 days.
That same study shows that 89% of potential candidates drop out of the recruitment process due to a prolonged timeline. Putting candidates on ice or waiting too long in-between communications is an invitation for them to ditch your company.
And don’t make the mistake of assuming you’ll just lose one candidate when websites like Glassdoor allow candidates to talk about their terrible recruiting experiences. An overly complicated or slow recruiting timeline is bad news for your hiring prospects.
Use technology to speed along the process
Your recruitment process is your first chance to impress high-value job candidates. If you’re using an outdated applicant tracking software (ATS) that slows down the recruitment process, there’s a good chance qualified candidates will just give up. Investing in a state of the art system that automates resume screening and manages all recruiting communications will save you and the job candidate time.
If you want to compete with the titans of your industry, ATS is not an option. There’s been a shift in the last decade in HR departments around the world. Applicant tracking software is no longer optional, it’s necessary to stay competitive. Over 98% of Fortune 500 companies, including Microsoft and Tesla, use ATS in their recruitment efforts. You need the right software to keep up with companies pulling from the same talent pool.
Eliminate the stuff that doesn’t matter
If you had to eliminate 80% of your recruitment process, what would you keep? It’s a tough question but it’s one you need to consider. Job candidates are tired of jumping through arbitrary hoops in the hopes of catching your attention.
Ask yourself if you really need to subject a candidate to three in-person interviews with four different team leads or if the same thing can be streamlined with a video conferencing tool. Think about whether or not you need someone to fill about a 40-question personality quiz before uploading their resume. Are these checkpoints truly helpful in deciding on a candidate or are they arbitrary roadblocks?
You might think tasks like these weed out candidates who don’t have the drive or the work ethic but you’d be wrong. How you treat your potential candidates is a direct look into how you treat your employees.
Let’s get technical
Despite all we’ve said in this article, there isn’t a right way to recruit tech talent. You’ll need to take the tips mentioned and put your own spin on them. It’s going to take some trial and error but if you stick to it, you’ll be a tech recruiting titan in no time.
Tiny companies weren’t able to grow their workforces in 2019.
Are you struggling to keep your small business staffed?
Hiring is tough for companies of all sizes, but the smallest companies are having the hardest time.
Overall, U.S. firms with fewer than 20 employees didn’t add workers in 2019.
The Hiring Standstill for the Smallest U.S. Businesses: 5 Key Findings
- Last year, the number of employees in total at tiny U.S. companies (fewer than 20 employees) didn’t increase. (Wall Street Journal)
- Compare that with the fact that organizations with 500+ employees increased their workforces by 2.3%.
- 2019 was the first year since 2010 that tiny companies didn’t add workers to their payroll.
- Tiny firms aren’t tiny when it comes to their impact on the U.S. labor force. There are more than 5 million U.S. firms with fewer than 20 employees. They make up 89 percent of all U.S. companies. (Small Business Administration).
- Businesses with less than 20 workers employ 16.8 percent of the U.S. labor force.
Applicant tracking systems enable small businesses to grow
There are common misconceptions among small business owners and entrepreneurs that keep some from even looking into software solutions. One common misconception is that ATS solutions are too expensive for an owner-operator. Another that we hear a lot is that applicant tracking solutions are just for companies that add hundreds of employees every year. —Nonsense.
The truth is that hiring software is just as important for tiny firms. Possibly even more important.
7 reasons ATS’ are a must-have for tiny businesses and start-ups
- The business owner has to do all the hiring PLUS everything else
- They don’t have the name recognition of larger companies
- They need to have a super-fast hiring process to compete
- They need to automate manual hiring operations to process more applicants
- They need to automatically filter out unqualified applicants before spending time on them
- They need a way to incorporate best practices
- They need to provide an outstanding candidate experience to attract quality talent
How MRV Banks solved their hiring problems with ApplicantStack
Let’s look at a case study of a small Missouri bank that solved their staffing problems with ApplicantStack. ApplicantStack is an affordable applicant tracking and hiring solution that helps you find and hire the best candidate faster and with less effort. ApplicantStack is available as a standalone ATS solution from SwipeClock. ApplicantStack is also available as part of the WorkforceHUB HRMS.
Though MRV Banks is now slightly larger than ‘tiny’, they have the same challenges faced by smaller companies. (They were tiny just a few years ago.)
In the first half of 2019, the company grew from 35 to 44 employees across five locations. Finding and hiring the right employee for each open position is a key success factor for MRV Banks. With steady growth and continuous demand, hiring became difficult and time-consuming. MRV Banks turned to ApplicantStack to solve three critical issues.
We needed to reach more well-qualified applicants, get fewer unqualified applicants, and reduce the administrative time spent per job opening, says Lydia Sumner, MRV Banks Director of Human Resources.
Let’s break that down. MRV Banks needed to:
- Reach more well-qualified candidates
- Review fewer unqualified candidates
- Reduce the administrative time per job opening
ApplicantStack makes it easy to create and post job descriptions to popular job boards, social media and internal sites. This helps hiring managers reach a higher volume of qualified candidates in a shorter period of time. Applicants are automatically scored according to rules set by MRV Banks, helping them screen candidates before they are considered for an interview.
Knockout questions are included in their questionnaire to eliminate candidates based on specific requirements of MRV Banks. The candidate view in ApplicantStack makes it easy to see which candidates are qualified for the position before any effort is spent on reviews.
With ApplicantStack, we now easily post to multiple job boards and automatically prescreen applicants based on a required application and questionnaire. The most qualified applicants are easy to see in the ApplicantStack dashboard. We also get fewer unqualified applicants because they self-select out during the application process.
The company posted several jobs and hired a qualified Loan Processor within the first month using ApplicantStack.
As the company approaches 50 employees it becomes increasingly important to document hiring history and protocol. ApplicantStack maintains a record of all applications, applicant history and communications.
ApplicantStack applies the same prescreening rules to all applicants and the scoring is transparent to auditors, proving our commitment to fair hiring and equal opportunity.
With ApplicantStack, employers create applications and questionnaires that all applicants complete. Each questionnaire has rules associated that assign a score to answers, making it easy to review at a glance. ApplicantStack also streamlines interview scheduling, interview feedback, and selection. All interactions during the hiring process are preserved for auditing and review.
HR Management Connection
ApplicantStack is part of a larger HR ecosystem at MRV Banks, including HUB and TimeWorksPlus. This integrated system provides an employee portal for new hire onboarding, timekeeping, paystubs, company directory, and employee engagement.
As an administrator, Sumner has single sign-on access to all functions of the system streamlining HR workflows and saving time and effort.
These tools help us find and keep the best talent while improving our efficiency. That combination fuels our growth and supports our commitment to delivering premium banking services.
ApplicantStack is affordable for the smallest businesses
Want to grow your business? Try ApplicantStack for free for 15 days. You won’t be tiny for long.
And it may be the most important decision you make this year.
Catch Top Healthcare Talent With Our Essential Hiring Guide
ApplicantStack’s How To Hire Your Next Employee playbook will help you:
- Find first-round healthcare draft picks
- Avoid hiring compliance red flags
- Make sure your applicant can pass to the end zone
- Intercept top healthcare candidates from your competition
How to win at 2020 healthcare hiring
Get your head in the game: Prescreening preparation
- Create custom questionnaires with knockout questions
- Filter unqualified candidates out before spending time on them
- Reduce unconscious bias by using the same criteria for each candidate
- Isolate a manageable pool of top candidates with the necessary qualifications
Watch the play-by-play:
First down: Create a healthcare job description
From the first step in the hiring process, ApplicantStack streamlines the workflows.
- Create a template for each job description
- Manage job descriptions in a centralized location
- The system inserts job descriptions automatically into postings
Post route: Post jobs to job boards
ApplicantStack posts to the following job boards:
- Google for Jobs
- LinkedIn Limited Postings
- Niche sites
Single signon job posting saves time. You don’t have to keep track of multiple login credentials.
Here’s the tape:
What’s the score? Candidate scoring
Create custom scorecards for each job. All applications come into a central dashboard. ApplicantStack scores the applications based on your criteria. Immediately.
In the applicant dashboard, sort the candidates by score to see the highest scoring at the top. Select the top candidates on the list to review their summaries, source (where they applied from) and resume. You can also see how the scorecard was calculated.
Watch it in slo-mo:
Handoff: How to schedule interviews
ApplicantStack integrates with Google Calendar and Office 365. You have two ways to schedule: you can choose a time or allow the applicant to select an interview time from pre-cleared calendar slots.
If you enable applicant self-scheduling, the candidate will be emailed a link to your scheduling calendar. When they follow the link, they will see your interview calendar. They can only schedule during a slot your hiring team has already designated.
No flags on this play:
Huddle up: Collect hiring team feedback
ApplicantStack sends each hiring team member an evaluation form. In the form, there are links to the candidate’s resume and completed questionnaire. Each team member completes the form during or after the interview. Then—voila!—ApplicantStack combines the forms and calculates an average rating.
When each applicant has a consolidated rating, it’s easy to compare candidates. The process is also less likely to be influenced by unconscious bias.
Do you have a team member who habitually drops the ball on interviewing feedback? ApplicantStack helps with that as well. If someone forgets to turn in their evaluation form, ApplicantStack nudges them with a reminder email. This takes the pressure off the hiring manager.
Watch the run here:
MVP: Select the top candidate
The time has come to make a selection from your pool of top candidates. You want to be careful, but you risk losing your top pick if this takes too long.
Don’t let background and reference checks slow down your hiring process. ApplicantStack helps you optimize this critical stage by narrowing your pool of candidates to the best possible options. Then it eliminates final concerns with background checks and calls to references.
In it to win:
Draft pick: Extend the job offer
Creating an offer letter template in your ApplicantStack document library is easy. Merge codes import information you have recorded (or the system has parsed) elsewhere. In the video, we show you how to create a merge field for the job start date.
Cue the confetti:
Touchdown! Hire your next healthcare employee
By following these steps, you will move your candidates quickly and efficiently through the workflows. They won’t be intercepted by your competitor. Automated communications keep your applicants updated every step of the way. Email or text your candidates to keep them engaged.
Play hard, win easy with ApplicantStack’s healthcare recruiting playbook.
By Liz Strikwerda
Automation has changed the face of hiring.
Why is it easy to automate hiring with the right software?
Job applicants apply online. They enter their information. This starts an end-to-end online process. An applicant tracking system (ATS) leverages the magic of digital automation. It lets computers do what they do best.
Does this create an impersonal machine-driven applicant experience?
Now to the question posed in the title. Short answer: no.
Let’s discuss why.
An ATS creates more time for personal attention. You can still call an applicant or meet them in person for an interview. The system doesn’t eliminate personal face-to-face (or voice-to-voice) communication.
Do you process a large volume of applications? You don’t have time to call every applicant personally.
If your ATS has texting, you can text right from the software. Keep a record of your text threads. Team members can text as if they are one user. This is personal, yet professional.
An ATS Reduces Abandoned Applications
Why do applicants abandon their applications? Poor communication. Many hiring teams can’t keep applicants apprised of their status. Regardless of their best intentions. They’re just too busy.
ATSs have auto-emails. You can send as many updates as you want. Let candidates know immediately when you’ve received their application. Keep them updated every few days.
When you’ve narrowed it down to a short list, you can call them personally.
How does an ATS know when to send an email?
To answer this question, first we need to talk about stages. You move applicants through the process with stages you’ve created. For example, you might have the following stages: Application Received, Awaiting Interview, Extend Job Offer.
Choose which actions are triggered by stage changes. For example, when you move an applicant to the Interview stage, it can trigger an email. The email invites the candidate to schedule an interview. (If your ATS is integrated with Google Calendar or Office 365, you can include the calendar link in the email.)
Give your applicants more attention, not less
You don’t need to send generic, impersonal emails. Create email templates. Use creative language that reflects the personality of your company. Tailor the email to the job description. Change your templates as often as you like.
Merge codes insert the applicant’s name and other information. The applicant gets a personal email addressed to them. They don’t know that it was sent automatically.
An ATS helps you communicate continually. In other words, you give your applicants more attention, not less.
What are some other ways an ATS frees up your time for more personal attention?
Make your system work for you
Let’s talk about organization. Every hiring team has their own system. The beauty of an ATS is being able to customize. Match your workflows.
This ApplicantStack user explains his process in a G2 review:
I enjoy the layout where applicants are marked in stages. A common issue with organizing applicants is the way you can sort them in your process. ApplicantStack allows you to keep candidates in different stages and advance them in your process based on where they fall. This is especially important when you have 2nd and 3rd tier candidates that you like, but are not as qualified as other top tier candidates. The stages allow you to label them in your system and then come back to them as you sort through other candidates you have reviewed and removed from your process. (G2)
They also appreciate the email delay feature:
I also LOVE the option where you can fair a candidate and schedule the email communication to go out on a future date. This allows me to create the task, but be tactful in communicating with those candidates without failing them immediately after their interview. In addition, when you have multiple raters the feedback option is collaborative and extremely useful.
This Senior Home Care recruiter mentions a couple more custom settings:
I love the amount of customization ApplicantStack allows (eg: adjusting the work flow, adding new documents to Onboarding, changing email triggers, etc.). The ability to make adjustments that better suit your company’s needs has been a huge benefit for our agency. (G2)
ATS data security
Everyone in HR worries about data breaches. Most cloud-based ATS vendors provide a high level of security. That said, before choosing an ATS, verify their security protocols.
This HR generalist explains how this improves hiring and onboarding:
I like the ability to easily get sensitive information in a secure way. There are a lot of scammers out there and I want my new hires to feel confident that they can trust that their information is secure and protected. I also like that they can fill out and sign documents easily from their phones. I hire a lot of people remotely and getting paperwork done is always a pain. I also use this for acknowledgements of policies. (G2)
An ATS makes your job easier
We’ve discussed bells and whistles. Now, let’s take a holistic view. The tools don’t mean anything unless the entire system fundamentally improves your operations.
This customer lists several ways an ATS has transformed their job (G2):
It made my job easier in many ways. The best part I would say is that a) It has been integrated with job boards and this made it easier to source resumes b) It can trigger emails to candidates automatically c) I am able to set the workflow and follow that easily d) Everything that is needed for recruitment in one system e) Automatically updating candidate details while just uploading resumes or emails f) Allocating tasks to other users g) Generating customized reports.
Would you like to test drive a simple and affordable ATS? We offer a free 15 day trial of ApplicantStack. Create some email templates. Design a hiring workflow. Post to several job boards without signing into each one.
Discover how an ATS frees up your time to give your applicants personal attention.
By Liz Strikwerda
Reading time: 5 minutes
Attracting talent won’t be any easier in 2020. Evaluate your 2019 successes and failures to ready your team for the new decade.
5 Hiring Trends for 2020
What trends will impact hiring in 2020?
- Improved screening for soft skills will expand your hiring pool
- Company culture still an important factor for applicants
- Gender pay equity and diversity hiring
- Older workers (65+) will eventually be the fastest-growing employee demographic
- Prepare for an eventual recession
Measure Soft Skills for Hard-to-Fill Positions
Soft skills are key behavioral characteristics. They help an employee succeed if they don’t initially have the hard skills for the job role.
Hire for soft skills and train for hard skills. Custom assessments can help you.
Use the structured interviewing tools in your ATS. Craft behavioral questions to measure soft skills. We addressed this in detail in our 2019 guide to structured interviews.
Be proactive about a positive company culture. It affects all of your business operations. Identify your culture, improve it if necessary, and express it in your recruitment marketing.
Gender Pay Equity
Identify whether your company has gender pay equity. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to work with your executive team to address it. There is no quick fix but you have to start somewhere.
Gender pay equity (or lack thereof) affects your culture, employer brand, and workforce satisfaction.
Is salary inequity kept under wraps at your company? Don’t assume it will stay that way. Review sites like Glassdoor exposed pay gaps at many companies in 2019.
If your company has achieved gender pay equity, congratulations! Feature this achievement prominently in your recruitment marketing.
Hiring bias (both conscious and unconscious) limit efforts to increase diversity. If your company wants to improve diversity, the onus is on your team. Increasing diversity at your company could be your teams’ greatest contribution in 2020.
Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
Baby Boomers Haven’t Disappeared
In 2019, we were constantly reminded about the importance of Millennials, Gen Y, and Gen Z. But don’t count out boomers just yet. They continue to have an impact on the hiring landscape.
This is good news for companies that haven’t been able to fill highly-skilled positions. You may find ideal candidates in this oft-overlooked demographic. Strategize with your team to attract and accommodate applicants from all generations.
The Economy Will Start Slowing Eventually
The question is not if but when. We won’t stave off a recession indefinitely.
When the recession hits, companies will have to adjust their hiring practices. Employers will be approached by more underqualified applicants. Effective first-pass filtering will be essential to isolate a qualified pool of applicants. Automate this process now with custom questionnaires and knockout questions. Your ATS should have this capability.
Strategize with company stakeholders to create a plan. Consider how outsourcing, gig workers, and part-time positions can help you survive the next downturn.
Our Knowledge Base Can Help You Prepare Your Team
In 2019, we addressed a wide range of important topics. They continue to be relevant:
Here’s to happy hiring in 2020 and beyond!
By Liz Strikwerda
Hiring myths hamper your recruiting efforts.
Let’s debunk some of the common misconceptions.
1. Work-from-home policies lower productivity and reduce collaboration.
Companies in widely diverse industries have found the opposite to be true. When managed correctly, remote employees are just as effective as onsite workers. Inexpensive (or free) cloud-based software solves collaboration problems.
JetBlue allows folks to work as far as three hours from headquarters—close enough to come in now and again but a much bigger radius from which it can draw applicants. When I asked the people at JetBlue about this policy, they said it helped them gain access to educated, high-ability mothers who wanted flexibility in their jobs. The airline believes this policy has improved the quality of its workforce.
Many companies have experienced higher retention among their offsite staff. Work/life balance increases engagement as well. Don’t rule out telecommuting due to outdated hiring myths.
2. There’s no reason to actively recruit people with disabilities.
Many employers believe that people with disabilities are less productive. Absenteeism is also a concern. And they assume it will be costly to make accommodations.
Studies have disproven these assumptions. Employees with disabilities are just as productive. They aren’t absent more frequently.
‘Reasonable accommodations’ may have a moderate cost, but the Work Opportunity Tax Credit can offset the amount.
According to the DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), two-thirds of employer accommodations for employee disabilities cost under $500, and most of the remainder require no special costs. (Source)
3. Hiring older employees has many drawbacks.
Last year, employees age 55 or older filled 49 percent of U.S. jobs.
But hiring myths about workers aged 50+ abound. The most common are: 1.They will demand a higher-than-average salary. 2.They aren’t tech-savvy. 3. They have significantly higher healthcare costs.
Each of these misconceptions have been disproven in many studies. Employers who hesitate to hire older candidates are missing out.
Older workers are more productive, have lower turnover, stay with an employer considerably longer than younger individuals and possess the accumulated knowledge and skills of a lifetime. Analysis of the economic value and profit contribution of age 50+ workers produces a strong argument for the retention and recruitment of older workers. (Source)
4. If you wait long enough, you’ll find an ideal candidate.
Not in this labor market. That’s why there is a renewed focus on soft skills. Many candidates don’t have the exact education and experience you could insist on if there wasn’t a talent shortage. In response, some companies have increased opportunities for on-the-job training.
Demand is outstripping supply. At the best of times, employers will find it near on impossible to find talent that perfectly fits all the position requirements. (Source)
Crafting job descriptions and requirements for soft skills is no longer optional. Structured interviewing questions are also critical.
5. An ATS is a luxury that small businesses can’t afford.
An ATS saves more money than it costs. As such, it can be the best way to stretch your recruiting budget.
It allows you to process and screen more applicants faster. This improves your quality-of-hire because you can compete with larger companies.
Another hiring myth is that ATSs remove the personal element. Because they narrow the pool of applicants quickly, they allow you to focus your attention on the most qualified.
ATS’ improve engagement for your entire staff. When your workforce has to cover for unfilled positions, you are at risk of employee burnout. Filling positions faster reduces or eliminates productivity gaps.
An ATS may also allow you to bring all hiring in-house. You won’t need outside agencies to find talent. Use software as capable as the platforms used by professional recruiters. Your hiring outcomes will improve AND you’ll save money.
By Liz Strikwerda