Redefine Recruiting: How To Grow A Pipeline Of Diverse Technical Talent

Article8 min read

September 21, 2022

Struggling to fill your critical roles? You’re not alone. The COVID-19 pandemic and the Great Resignation that followed has seen record numbers of employees leave their jobs in order to seek more fulfilling work, or a better work-life balance, all of which in turn shifted the balance of power in favor of employees.1

One sector where employees are in the driving seat is tech. Unsurprisingly, given the widespread impact of digital transformation, tech skills are highly sought-after — a report by ManPower Group indicated that the most in-demand skills for 2022 are, in fact, in IT, technology, telecoms, communications, and media.2 To gain these skills, organizations often resort to poaching top tech talent with lucrative offers, which results in a smaller, less diverse talent pool for others.3 And as only 26% of computing-related jobs are held by women,4 this shrinking pool means a shrinking diversity, too, which is concerning for a field struggling to transform socially.

Rapid digital transformation, combined with the impacts of the pandemic, has also resulted in skills becoming obsolete, and by consequence growing skills gaps. According to a study, the latter are an issue for 43% of companies globally.5

The combination of shrinking talent pools, growing skills gaps, and a lack of diversity is creating a perfect storm for hiring managers, particularly those hiring for tech skills. But in the midst of this lies an opportunity for companies to rethink their hiring initiatives in a way that actually grows the amount of talent available to them. It starts by relooking your recruiting model.

The problem with traditional recruiting

Vacant positions have a financial cost, which varies depending on the industry, position, and business circumstances, as well as a relevance cost. The longer it takes to fill a position, the more likely the skills required for that position will have evolved by the time you find a qualified candidate.

Businesses urgently need to examine and reform their recruitment and selection processes. The traditional talent process or funnel, which starts with a business need and leads to hiring, onboarding, and development, is slow to fill vacancies and bring workers up to operational speed.

The SHRM calculates the average cost per hire to be $4,683 in the U.S.,6 and these costs grow every day the position remains unfulfilled. When you consider that the median time to hire (from application submission to first day on the job) is 44 days for IT and 49 days for an engineering position, for instance, it’s clear that the longer the hiring process is, the more expensive it becomes.7

Thankfully, there is an alternative to the existing talent funnel framework, one that follows the same fundamentals but is more efficient and effective.

A new approach to recruitment

Businesses need to expand their talent pipeline and cut down on the time they take to hire. This can be achieved by building your talent pools, rather than competing with other companies for the same people. Doing so will enable you to train potential candidates according to your specific requirements, so they’ll join your company with job-ready skills.

So, how do you go about creating your own talent pools? We have two solutions for you.

Solution 1: Your next great hire may already work for you

Internal recruitment has the potential to address both the issue of a shrinking talent pipeline and increased employee turnover. Hiring from within the company preserves culture and knowledge, expedites onboarding, and aids in retention — one study shows that if employees understand that there are broader internal mobility opportunities available, they’re more likely to stay.8

The internal-recruitment method requires strategies and programs that enable workforce development and on-the-job skills transfers.9 In order to anticipate the skills required and plan workforce development programs effectively, you should start by developing a succession plan strategy. This involves assessing the skills you need your employees to have, gauging employee engagement, and determining how quickly you can replace key employees should they depart.10 Consider these four tips for succession planning:11

  • Identify internal talent regardless of current vacancies.
  • Create an inclusive, transparent culture of progression throughout the organization.
  • Engage in continuous performance management and career pathing.
  • Move toward a data-driven view of skills by using succession planning software to identify employees who might leave; track high-potential staff to fill vacancies; and improve internal hiring through access to a robust database of available skills.

By partnering with employees and trying to understand their career goals and aspirations more, you can co-create learning paths that align to company goals and employees goals. A coordinated, collaborative approach to ongoing skills development sends a message to employees that if they want to make a career pivot, they don’t need to look outside the organization.

Furthermore, equipping staff with transferable skills that enable them to move into other positions should not be seen as a liability, but rather a future-facing competitive advantage.12 Richard Branson wasn’t wrong when he said: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”13

Alongside increasing your staff’s confidence, pride in their work, and earning potential, ongoing training equips employees to respond to shifting organizational and market conditions.14 It also reduces costs: In the U.S., average training expenditure per learner is $1,111,15 less than a quarter of the average $4,683 cost of hiring a new employee.16

Solution 2: Hire for potential, train for skills

Rather than competing for scarce tech talent, the train-to-hire model allows you to focus on creating your own pool of technical talent.

New hire training widens the top of your talent funnel by welcoming a broader swathe of candidates who are screened based on their potential to learn and grow, rather than merely on their experience and skills. It also enables you to tailor employee skills to the exact requirements of your business at that time. This has an immediate and positive effect on employee engagement, because more than simply providing employment, you’re facilitating a growth opportunity for new hires from the get-go.17

It’s also now assumed that every new hire will have basic digital capabilities and literacy, and that job-specific skills can be imparted as part of the hiring process. However, as artificial intelligence and automation become more prevalent, they may furthermore take over some of the tasks previously done by tech staff. This will free these employees up to perform higher-level functions, meaning that critical and analytical thinking, strategy, communication, and leadership will grow in importance.18 These skills can be more difficult to train in employees, and may necessitate a different and more guided approach to recruiting and training.

Because train-to-hire casts a wider recruitment net, it’s a good way to diversify your talent pool, too. Hiring tech talent from other major tech companies will likely bring you candidates from a non-diverse pool, whereas opening your hiring practices to professionals from other backgrounds, such as those from marketing and sales, might attract diverse candidates with the right attitudes and aptitude to learn.19

IT services and consulting company Cognizant, for example, found that it needed to boost its ability to hire local technical talent for clients in particular regions. To achieve this, the company partnered with edX For Business to recruit talent from regionally recognised technical boot camps, such as the UConn Coding Boot Camp in Connecticut. This gave the company access to a broader pool of college graduates, who could be trained in practical, technical, job-relevant skills so they could hit the ground running the moment they joined the organization. It also drew in workers from other sectors for whom the boot camps facilitated a career change; this in turn brought a diversity of industry experience and perspectives to Cognizant. Ultimately, Cognizant was able to deliver contemporary skills in the shortest time to a more diverse pool of candidates.

Beyond traditional hiring initiatives

Many companies have responded to the talent crunch by approaching recruiting as a zero-sum game. But savvy organizations recognize that, whether enabling employee mobility or train-to-hire models, continuous learning is key to growing and maintaining a sustainable talent pipeline.

By taking a step back from the traditional method of recruiting and building instead a culture of development — from before a candidate joins your business to the day they depart — you can position your organization as one that values and nurtures talent. And that, in the long run, turns your organization into one for which people will want to work.

Do you want to improve your company’s hiring initiatives? edX For Business offers a broad skills development portfolio to help you develop and nurture the potential of your current and future staff.

Accelerate the workforce of the future, with edX

Whether you’re a business leader, L&D executive, or other professional, we offer compelling data and insights for why an outcomes-based skills program is key to succeeding in tomorrow’s workplace.

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  17. How to Widen Your Tech Talent Pipeline with Untapped Talent. (2022). Beamery. Retrieved August 26, 2022.
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