There are too many IT jobs and not enough candidates to fill them; it's a tale as old as the technology field itself.
Talent gaps hurt employees, stifle innovation and lead companies to get creative while sourcing new hires. Going back to the drawing board, technology executives are rethinking traditional values for qualified candidates and considering ways to streamline the hiring process to capture talent.
"Historically, most people hiring engineering talent would look at what is the documented set of skills," said Claus Torp Jensen, chief digital officer and head of technology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, speaking at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium on Wednesday. "I don't think that's the right question."
Instead, Jensen asks about the candidate's mindset, and includes questions about whether they have an affinity for learning, if they're curious or to name the special something they'd bring to the role.
When hiring for tech roles, Travelers Insurance also focuses on more than just the technical skills. The company expects potential employees "not only to understand engineering but to also really intimately understand our business to work in the cross-functional teams," Mojgan Lefebvre, EVP and chief technology and operations officer at Travelers Insurance, said.
Travelers Insurance assigns behavioral interviews to get a feel for the candidate's mindset. In a behavioral interview, the candidate is given a workplace scenario and asked how they would address it.
Travelers Insurance has "teams that are really focused on recruiting" to help bring in technology talent. "Sometimes as a hiring manager you may actually not even have met someone," Lefebvre said.
If a company seeks best-in-class talent, it also has to recognize "people have options. You shouldn't necessarily assume that it's hard for someone to get another job," Jensen said. If hiring managers try to run a candidate through the ringer with months of interviews, there's a chance they'll become less interested.
By cutting down the number of interviews — but not the breadth of topics covered throughout the process — businesses can get all of the information they need from a candidate without exhausting the interviewee, according to Jensen.
Retaining employees through career enrichment
Enriching an employees experience at the company — alongside diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and giving them the right tools to do their jobs effectively — can help retain top tech talent.
Talent development programs can keep employees operating at the top of their skill set and prepare them to grow with the company, according to Jensen.
Boot camps and other structured learning programs can upskill and enrich employees to grow with the company, according to Lefebvre. The programs focus on both technical skill and business acumen to create a pipeline of well-rounded talent suitable for higher-up roles.
"People are at different points in time with their career, but if you're not making sure that they're maximizing their potential and … not effectively giving them the opportunities you should, you're probably going to have retention issues and you're also not going to get as much value out of the talent," Jensen said.
Setting employees up for success falls on the frontline managers, according to Jensen. Managers understand best what the employee is ready for and what they're looking to get out of the role.
Good talent may be mobile, and eventually leave the company instead of moving up the ranks for better opportunities. Managers can try to incentivize them to stay, but there still must be a willingness to give up some of the best people when they're ready to move on, Jensen added.
Clarification: This article has been updated to clarify remarks Mojgan Lefebvre made about recruiting at Travelers Insurance.