Recruiting tech talent: Our tips through COVID-19

Edward Wong

Edward Wong

Head of Strategy

During our twenty years in business, we’ve learnt a lot about recruiting tech talent and how to manage the turbulence of accessing tech skills within Australia. 

In this blog, we see a snapshot from our latest article with InnovationAus –  an independent publication that reports on government policy and how it affects technology-based innovation. Our CEO, Dane Eldridge discusses what businesses can do to access tech talent through the pandemic and how team augmentation is a flexible alternative option.

We also gain insights from Edward Wong, our Head of Strategy on how to find good quality tech talent. Plus he explores the differences between using contractors compared to agencies. 

The skills squeeze and team augmentation

Our CEO, Dane Eldridge, spoke with InnovationAus this month on how the pandemic has affected the availability of tech skills within Australia. Dane explains how COVID-19 has produced a dynamic environment where the sudden unemployment from the national lock-down period has created hiring opportunities.

InnovationAus - The skills squeeze and team augmentation

“There was panic early on which meant there were a lot of candidates in the market for a little while. But there is still a significant skills shortage and we’re starting to see companies pick up and recruit again,” Dane said.

Now that things are becoming more predictable in Australia with COVID-19, there’s a more considered approach to deciding which roles are going to drive value long term.  Organisations are finding themselves under immense pressure to deliver on digital transformation, with skilled technology professionals very much sought after. 

In the InnovationAus article, Dane addresses:

  • Application of skills and cultural fit
  • Types of software developers in high-demand
  • Reasons why companies have problems landing the right talent
  • The alternative hiring option of team augmentation to remove risk

Read the full article on the InnovationAus website to discover more insights around team augmentation and recruiting tech talent. Plus watch out for our upcoming article in October around lessons learnt over our twenty-year history.

Finding good tech talent is hard

Our Head of Strategy, Edward Wong shares his thoughts on the challenges in recruiting quality tech talent. With over 20 years of experience, Ed understands the impact of getting the right people with the right attributes.

Challenges of recruiting quality tech talent

Here’s the scenario: You’ve got a great team – they’re good at what they do, but there are looming deadlines for new projects, and you know that using innovative technology is the key to success. Unfortunately, your team is at capacity with their current workload, and you realise that you don’t have enough time or people to get the results that you need. 

Your experience with hiring is that it just takes a long time, and you need to divert your most knowledgeable people away from their day jobs to help. Your concern is that if you rush to market and don’t find the right people, you risk throwing away time, money, and your reputation. 

Finding the right people to execute software development projects is a common challenge that can dramatically affect the outcomes that technology teams produce. Faced with time pressures and increased demand to innovate quickly, many IT and Delivery managers struggle to find the right people, with the right skills, in a short enough timeframe to make a real difference.

How do you find talented people who “just get it”?

We’re not talking about finding people who can get the job done. We’re talking about people who actively contribute, both to the project you’re working on and your culture. These are people who will ask questions and challenge things that don’t make sense. At the same time, though, they are also humble and have a sense of humour. They are great to work with, and they give you the confidence that they “just get it”.

But how do we find these talented people? How do we recruit tech talent that will align with our business culture?

Apart from some technical assessment, there are a few things to look out for:

  • How well can they describe a solution?
    Look for people who can walk you through a solution without relying on jargon. They should be able to describe the benefits of each major component that was selected and suggest alternative solutions.
  • Are they a cultural fit?
    The best experience is if you feel like you’re talking to an old friend. If they can show you their personality, and make you feel comfortable in an interview, imagine working with them!
  • What is their primary motivation?
    One of the critical things to look out for when hiring, are people whose motivation lies beyond working with the cool toys.
  • Listers
    When people start an interview by listing all of the technologies that they’re familiar with, it’s usually a bad sign. In our experience, whenever this happens the interview is usually pretty short.

When we hire people, (whether for internal or team augmentation roles), we find people that we want to work with, not just those that can do the job. 

Great people - find good talent

Apart from delegating the hiring process, you might also be wondering why you would choose an agency over hiring contractors.

The fundamental problem with contractors

There are a lot of great contractors out there. Many of us at 4mation were once contractors ourselves – giving clients their money’s worth and kicking goals. However, contractors are human too and are therefore subject to life’s challenges like needing to take unexpected leave and sickness.

Plus they aren’t always the cream of the crop. They should be put through the same assessment when hiring full-time employees and technically assessed on their ability.

No matter how good they are, though, contractors universally suffer from the same fatal flaw: the knowledge that you’ve paid them to build up over the last 6 to 12 months walks out the door with the completion of the job.

The benefit of agencies

Agencies, at least, offer some form of accountability – if their staff leaves, they provide replacements. If the staff don’t do the job, they will find a replacement. If additional work needs doing, they will find someone to do it. Even better are agencies that follow robust processes and ensure that knowledge is documented and a proper handover happens.

Apart from internal hires and contractors, the only alternative to a development agency is a recruitment agency. In our experience, recruitment agencies aren’t equipped to conduct technical assessments, which means that you need to spend the time to conduct the assessment yourself.

All of this aside, finding people who have strong, human communication skills is non-negotiable. It is one of the key factors in finding people who “just get it”.

If you can avoid it, try not to settle for people who can just do the job. For more tips on recruiting tech talent, contact us to see how we can help.

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