How will you address the talent shortage in your digital organization? (Hint: recruiting alone won’t get you there.)

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How will you address the talent shortage in your digital organization? (Hint: recruiting alone won’t get you there.)


The Great Resignation and the challenge for digital organizations

We have seen unprecedented movement in the US job market in the past six months, as Americans have switched companies, jobs, and careers at high rates. For those of us who work in digital, it’s tempting to believe that we’re insulated from these macroeconomic forces. After all, the technology sector has continued growing even while other sectors have faced economic headwinds. On top of that, technology jobs often already come with flexible work environments, good pay, and solid benefits. But digital organizations have not been immune at all. 

As the pandemic drags on, companies continue to look to digital solutions to make it easier to reach customers and avoid the disruptions that the pandemic has caused. This has opened a floodgate of job opportunities for those working in technology. All of this has a compounding effect on digital organizations:

  • There are vast numbers of open positions in engineering, product management, design, and strategy.
  • Talent is leaving in record numbers.
  • The number of available digital workers is limited.
  • Salary expectations are skyrocketing.

Add all of this up, and you get a huge talent crunch. We are even experiencing this here at The Ranch. We have been fortunate to continue growing and expanding our capabilities, so we have a continued need to bring in exceptional talent. We have amazing Nerds and have been fortunate to keep many of them engaged and growing with us. But we have seen some in our ranks move on to other opportunities. While this positive attrition is healthy in general and somewhat expected in the industry, it continues to put pressure on recruiting and on the business.

Addressing the talent crunch

Given these extreme pressures on digital organizations, how can you address the talent shortage? Certainly, one way is through aggressive recruiting. While this will undoubtedly be a part of any strategy, if it’s your only strategy, it may come at a high cost:

  • It puts massive pressure on your recruiters to bring in talent.
  • It puts pressure on you to lower your hiring standards.
  • It puts pressure on your bottom line because of increased salary demands in the market.
  • It puts pressure on your existing teams to onboard and incorporate team members who are brand new to your organization.

Another option is reskilling. Let’s be clear; this option has drawbacks, too. For starters, moving existing employees within your company into new, open roles may require higher salaries. Additionally, talent may be comfortable where they are already. But investing in upskilling and reskilling can have huge advantages, too:

  • It shows that you are committed to your people.
  • It gives your talent a new path forward within your organization, which may encourage them to stay with you longer.
  • It costs a lot less to retrain your existing team members than it does to go out and recruit new team members.
  • It puts less pressure on your existing teams because they don’t have to onboard new team members to an entirely new organization. They can focus on onboarding them into their current systems and processes.
  • It makes you feel good. Seeing talent grow and thrive within your organization becomes a point of pride and a part of company culture.

Now, what about upskilling? There will continue to be a skills gap until training, development, and recruiting catch up with the talent demand. This means that your digital organization will need to find ways to do more with less. This is where upskilling comes in. You already have great talent, so make it better.

Teach them something new, expose them to new ideas, and give them more tools to use to solve their current problems. Investing in your current talent shows your employees what’s possible and gives them the confidence to explore more and push further.

How can we help?

If this all sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. Big Nerd Ranch can help you with this problem. We have upskilled and reskilled thousands of software developers for more than 20 years. We’ve brought our world-class training to project managers, strategists, and designers as well.

Our Essentials classes are short, intense, and focused. They reskill developers and prepare them for a brand new role in mobile (iOS and Android) or modern web development (React). We even have something for developers who want to learn modern back-end technologies, such as Ruby, Node.js, and (hopefully soon) Go. We don’t claim that our courses are ‘easy,’ but they’re worth it.  After spending a week with us, your team will have the knowledge and skills to embark on new journeys. Will they be experts after just that week? No, we’re not miracle-workers. But they will be able to make impactful contributions to projects. 

We also offer our Advanced courses as a great way to upskill your teams. Our Advanced iOS and Android courses help to build a strong foundation for teams and can help junior developers contribute more consistently and meaningfully.

It doesn’t stop there. We can also serve beyond the classroom by embedding our experts in your team to increase velocity while providing support and mentoring. Our Embedded Experts provide collaboration with a side of consultancy to help you produce the best work possible.

Recruiting will always be crucial for growing teams, but reskilling and upskilling can help fill the current talent gap. By giving team members new opportunities, providing onramps for junior talent, and improving the skills of existing team members, organizations can rethink their strategy for filling new roles.

 

Eric Wilson

Author
Big Nerd Ranch

Eric joined Big Nerd Ranch in the spring of 2019 to lead the training initiatives and brings a wealth of experience in both training and consultancy work.



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