A lot of stock is put into educational and experiential pedigree. You wouldn’t hire a lawyer who didn’t go to law school. And, on a more granular level, you may not hire a lawyer who didn’t go to the right law school. The same applies when you hire someone out of a company; it should be the right company.
It’s no surprise that these traditional methods of evaluating candidates spill over into how technology candidates are measured. But is this traditional way of hiring a luxury that organizations can afford when unemployment in technology roles is so low?
Henry Boulos, Talener’s EVP of Client Services says it ultimately boils down to one thing: urgency. Job boards are filled with descriptions for software engineers. There is a need that isn’t being met.
And yet, thousands and thousands of resumes are available at the click of a button. The internet has revolutionized hiring. Candidates maintain LinkedIn profiles and updated resumes on job boards. The way in which candidates search for, network for, or stumble upon jobs has fundamentally changed. So how is it possible that traditional candidates are difficult to hire?
“Information technology is near full employment. You can whittle down this already small list of unemployed candidates even further when you screen for traditional experience paths,” says Boulos. “There are more positions open than there are candidates – employed or unemployed. Good software developers know that they have opportunities. Urgency is a one-way door in the employee’s favor.”
Boulos continues, “So why do we attempt to lure these candidates away from their current roles when there are plenty of opportunities for them to pursue at will? It’s like joining a singles’ dating site but only being open to meeting married people. I want candidates who are engaged and excited to join us without having to convince them to leave their current role.”
So how do established companies reconcile their urgent need for engineers with their desire for unavailable engineers with the right educational and experiential pedigree? Sometimes they can’t. This gap can be filled by those who have not followed the traditional path.
“It’s a sign of the times, and a fact that hiring managers in technology have to face,” explains Boulos. “If you aren’t the tech company du jour, then you’re competing with everyone else. It’s up to you to decide whether non-traditional experience is prohibitive when it comes to hiring within your organization.”
There is some proverbial soul-searching that many companies need to do. If you are leading a team whose expansion is paramount to success, you may need to hire outside of your comfort zone. Market conditions dictate the supply and demand of highly-skilled technology candidates. If needs are urgent, sourcing flexibility is significant. Leaving unfilled roles within a team isn’t just a matter of needs not being met, it’s also a catalyst for employees to leave. Feeling overworked, under compensated, and in the wrong culture can easily turn one open role into two.
There are advantages to traditional computer science degrees and the foundation they provide. Just as there are advantages to having experience with the tech giants of the world. But the ability to learn on your own or at coding camps has opened doors to motivated individuals who see value in taking the initiative to further themselves and their careers. From reputation points on Stack Overflow to showcasing work on GitHub; technology has allowed for these non-traditional candidates to highlight their abilities and engagement beyond the traditional resume.
Every time- engagement trumps current skill-level, experience, or alma mater. Your future employee should be engaged with your culture, your work, and your company. This fosters greater engagement and leads to buy in.
“You have to meet people. It isn’t just about the resume. It’s about hiring people for who they can be, not who they have been,” urges Boulos. “Some of our best candidates have been self-taught or have taken the initiative to join a coding academy. Isn’t this the type of person you’re seeking out; the person who is self-motivated to learn and hone their skills?”