tech_Talent_buyers_MarketThe tech industry is a buyer’s market: As of 2016, there were 3 million more STEM jobs than qualified candidates. For companies seeking top talent, this means more competition to get candidates who have in-demand skills. So what can businesses do to improve their odds of getting needed tech talent in a buyer’s market?

Consider a Freelancer

If your need is immediate, consider hiring a freelancer. Freelance workers can step in and pinch hit for a variety of IT needs. Consider that, in 2016, one in ten CIO’s at smaller tech companies planned to fill over 75 percent of their team with contract workers. These numbers may only grow as more tech workers seek out the flexible schedules freelance work brings.

By bringing on a freelancer, you eliminate the need to rush — something that almost never leads to a strong hiring decision. Your business will also be able to move ahead with planned objectives that may have otherwise gone on the back burner until the right person was found.

Your business also saves money (since there’s no need to pay benefits) and gets the right skills at the right time. This speaks to another advantage of contract workers: Sometimes, you only need a skill set for a short amount of time. In this case, it makes much more sense to bring on a freelancer than to hire someone full-time when there simply isn’t a full-time need for their talent.

Between 2013 and 2015, interest in flexible contract work increased by 40 percent, according to job search engine Indeed. If you’ve tried and failed to find good freelancers before, revisit it now.

Define Your Must-Haves

After you hire someone to fill the immediate need, take a step back and define what skills are critical for the full-time position. It’s all too common for hiring committees to quickly throw together a job description, interview, then realize in the middle of interviewing that there are five new must-haves for the right candidate. When job scope creep takes over midway through the hiring process, your committee must start fresh.

Get Informed

As you’re reviewing what skills are really necessary for the right person, get informed about the prospects your ideal candidate is facing. Who else might be hiring for that role? What are other organizations offering in salary and benefits? How tight is the market for someone with the skills you believe are critical?

In a buyer’s market, you face an uphill battle in attracting the perfect person for the job if you are not willing to compete on pay. If the salary you’ve earmarked for the position falls far below the norms, you will need to pay more or offer perks that sweeten the deal.

On the other hand, if the skills you’ve identified are not in top demand at present, more applicants may be available. In this case, you may not need to compete on pay or you may be able to move faster, because interested applicants have fewer options.

Be Flexible

Now that you’ve done your research and brainstormed your must-have requirements, you are ready to compete with other companies. While ideally you would find the perfect person for the role, this is not always possible in a tight labor market.

The reality is, you will need to be flexible and seek compromise if you want to hire someone soon. If your job description lists 20 skills that are must-haves, take some off the critical list. If you can be flexible around the requirements, you’ll find a broader talent pool to interview. Before you post that job description, revise some of those requirements to preferences.

Also be flexible about where and how you are advertising your open positions. If you’re only actively recruiting candidates from a handful of elite colleges, for instance, then of course the pool of applicants seems very small. You are not casting a wide enough net for IT talent. The more you lift parameters on the right candidate, the more qualified people you will be able to consider.

Consider using a referral strategy where your existing talent is rewarded if they refer a qualified new hire to your HR department. Select a reward that your team will love and watch as applications trickle in from people who are connected to your employees.

Move Quickly

By preparing for a realistic job search and researching the competition for the skills you seek, you are ready to begin interviewing with an accurate understanding of what’s at stake. So when you meet a candidate who seems like a good fit for the role, move quickly! Extend an offer or complete second round interviews rather than waiting for someone better. If you hesitate over a candidate, you could get beaten to the offer phase by one of your competitors.

If you can afford to wait for that dream candidate and use your freelance talent in the meantime, that is of course an option. Before you do this, however, ask yourself if you’re being realistic. Is there someone out there who has the full package?

While you can’t alter the fact that it is a buyer’s market, you can shift your mindset and your hiring process so you are better able to find the right skills at the right time. With these tips, you’ll increase job applicants and help your company thrive.

Decide Consulting provides IT staffing services. Our conclusive hiring methodology enables us to bring the best IT problem solvers to your organization. Our entire management team comes from an IT technical background giving us a unique perspective on candidates and the industry.