The IT job market is tighter than ever. Here’s how employers can stand out from the crowd

Author Alex Gerritsen
April 22, 2024

German businesses are struggling to fill key technology roles. This is a long-standing challenge, and one that shows no sign of abating.

Our recent study suggests that as many as two-thirds (66%) of organisations have seen their businesses adversely affected by the IT skills gap. This manifests in everything from the delayed delivery of projects (selected by 39% of the IT professionals surveyed), an inability to launch new projects and services (36%), and difficulty serving priority business requests (31%). Solving the IT skills deficit is inextricably linked to business performance.

Becoming attractive to IT practitioners

Businesses in Germany must therefore explore every possible measure to become employers of choice for IT professionals. The days where simply installing a new ping-pong table or offering dress-down Fridays were enough are over: to get the vital talent they need to thrive in a digital world, businesses need to rethink how they recruit and retain workers.

Successful businesses understand that being client-focused or product-focused is not enough; focusing on the employee experience is just as crucial to success. If your company builds a reputation as a great place for IT professionals to learn, grow their careers, work flexibly, and carry out interesting tasks, then the right people will start to gravitate towards you.  This may sound straightforward enough, but delivering on the goal can be a very different matter.

How to become an employer of choice

There are a number of ways organisations can go about making themselves attractive to IT specialists. Here are some of the most effective:

Play to your strengths

Multinational corporations (MNCs) have a very different profile to Mittelstand businesses, and the “sell” to employees will therefore vary. MNCs for instance, can attract people through brand recognition and they are likely to have greater resources to put behind IT projects and staff training, which can be a draw for some people. MNCs also often offer the chance to work abroad along with other perks.

In contrast, job descriptions at Mittelstand firms are likely to be less narrow and restrictive. An ambitious professional is likely to have a wider remit to innovate and experiment, along with the opportunity to gain experience in areas outside of their core responsibilities. The smaller the company, the more important the role of an IT specialist and the bigger the impact they can have.

Leverage training to drive recruitment

In a world where 36% of IT practitioners think that the skills of many of their fellow practitioners are outdated, training and development can be a key tool in recruiting and retaining talent. Employees value certifications and qualifications paid for by the business, and this can be a significant selling point during the recruitment process.

In this regard, privately owned and/or Mittelstand companies often have the upper hand as they tend to be more flexible on the training employees are entitled to. MNCs can compete, but they need to be less restrictive about what training they allow employees to access. The aim should be to free staff to follow their own interests as well as focusing on the development required for the business. Technology moves so quickly it’s difficult to predict which skills may be needed in 12 months’ time – IT workers on the front-line of the sector will often be best placed to understand the skills they will need.

Draw on outside expertise

Becoming an employer of choice for IT professionals requires an outside-in view of your company. You need to know what prospective employees think about your organisation. Here, external consultants are useful. Not only can they give an independent view on how the company is viewed by IT practitioners, they can also provide useful intelligence that the company may not have, such as the going market rates for certain roles.

Consultants can also act as a bridge between prospective employees and the employer, helping to smooth the dialogue between the two parties and handle the negotiations. This approach means that the relationship with the potential employee can be focused on aspiration and opportunity rather than the nitty gritty of contract details. They can also set expectations and provide context, so prospective employees have the full picture before they sit down with the employer – this reduces the likelihood of costly misunderstandings.

As demand for tech solutions grows in every sector, the IT skills gap will continue to widen. IT professionals have even outlined potential solutions such as increasing investment in apprenticeships and retraining schemes from the private sector (51%) and improving the perception of IT as a career (48%). These initiatives will yield results in the medium- to long-term. Until then, individual businesses need to do all in their power to find the talent they need to grow. The only way to do that is to become the sort of business where IT practitioners want to build long careers. That requires a laser focus on aligning the strengths of your business to their needs.

You can get in touch with us to discuss your career or hiring needs by completing our form.

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