Recruiting IT professionals is a problem for many companies. Positions such as software developers and DevOps engineers are critical to a company's growth and strategy. Companies often spend money on advertising or recruitment services to fill vacancies - but this does not guarantee success. "Why can't I fill this position?" A question that often leaves HR managers baffled.
The latest Bitkom study from November 2022 shows that 137,000 IT professionals are wanted in Germany. This figure is even higher than the 124,000 missing specialists before Corona in 2019 - thus the highest value since the measurement of the shortage of skilled workers began.
As technology becomes more and more pervasive in our lives, this number is expected to increase. For that reason, it is important for companies to understand how they can create excellent working conditions for IT professionals. Salaries are only one of many factors that make an IT job attractive.
We call it the "pillars of employability". These are four key characteristics that we have identified at alphacoders during seven years of HR consulting. In order to help our partner companies recruit for a vacancy, we first assess together where the company already excels and where it needs improvement compared to other companies in the market.
We present these pillars of employability to you and hope that it will help you answer the crucial question: What makes an IT job attractive?
The corporate brand
Employer branding is one of the most important factors in making an IT job attractive. A strong employer brand signals to potential employees that the company is a great place to work and values work culture. It also communicates that the company invests in its employees and offers them opportunities for growth, development and training. This can be very attractive to IT professionals who want a long-term career with a company that values them. This can attract the best and brightest IT talent to the company, which in turn creates an upward momentum that naturally attracts more talent.
With an employer brand that stands out from the competition, companies can create a positive image in the minds of potential employees that keeps them engaged and motivated even after they are hired. If a company is popular with employees, word will spread quickly and sustainably in the tech scene.
This effect is more challenging for companies like SMEs that are less known in the tech industry. Some ways to achieve this goal are hosting meetups, sponsoring local software conferences or creating programmes to recruit employees.
IT professionals also explore portals such as Kununu or Glassdoor to find out about the atmosphere in a company before applying. These platforms therefore also provide employers with feedback on how they perform in the eyes of employees.
IT professionals also appreciate the opportunity to use their skills in a meaningful way ('purpose') that contributes to the success of the company's products or services. For many IT professionals, working on a product they can be proud of and feel responsible for is an attractive career path. The experience of working in the right team to develop a product can also be rewarding and increase the sense of fulfilment. Therefore, the quality and success of a company's products or services can make an IT job additionally attractive to potential employees. And if a company's products are successful, this can lead to greater job security and better job opportunities in the future.
Cultivating a product culture also plays a role here. Companies ought to create a culture of innovation and experimentation. This means that employees are encouraged to try new things and experiment with different methods of product development. This also attracts applicants.
Of course, not every product can have a strong purpose, but then the other pillars should do the job.
The Tech Stack
The tech stack consists of the technologies a company uses to develop, operate and scale its products and services. Today, most companies rely on a mix of technologies to sustain their operations. This is also partly necessary today because there is simply a limit of sufficient skilled labour for certain technologies. This is to the extent that technology decisions are made based on personnel strategy considerations - i.e. whether the company can find enough skilled workers for a technology choice and what the risk is if its own employees drop out. Therefore, sometimes the second best technology is the better choice due to the higher selection of skilled IT staff as well as resources and documents that provide support.
Of course, not every company can simply change its technology course. Therefore, ask yourself the following questions: Will there be changes to the software architecture in the near future or will new products be developed? Can new technologies be tested in a less business-critical context? Or will developers have time to work on open source projects?
If you can answer these questions satisfactorily, you will be more resilient as a company to the changing technology landscape and a volatile skills shortage.
The last pillar is the benefits that companies offer. And here there is a lot that can be done besides salary to offer an attractive workplace. Flexibility is at the top of the list, as is the desire for a good work-life balance. Remote or hybrid work has become part of everyday life in many companies and helps many people to organise their private lives more easily, just like mental health programmes or sufficient holiday days. The upcoming Generation Z attaches particular importance to such a balance. Organisations that show flexibility and can integrate employees as smoothly as possible into the work process have a clear advantage in the "war of talent".
For more information on the benefits that are part of this pillar, see our article "Workforce Planning 2023 IT & Tech".
It is important for companies to keep these opportunities in mind so that they can find the best candidates for their IT department and create a productive work environment. Now it's your turn – which ones can you offer as an organisation?