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Post by Rich Moy on Sep 5, 2018 12:00:00 PM

With an ever-changing technology landscape, even the most seasoned executives tend to be more reactive than proactive about hiring developers. Over the last few years, experts have recommended an agile approach to tech recruiting, which involves adapting based on short feedback cycles. We even made the argument for building tech teams with that approach back in 2015.

At the same time, KPMG and Harvey Nash found that 65% of CIOs still feel that a lack of talent holds back their organization. So how can you strike a balance between adapting to unexpected change and supporting your company through developer hiring?

As part of a process known as strategic workforce planning, talent acquisition leaders seek to align their priorities with the needs of their companies. With just a few months remaining in the year, this is an ideal time to start thinking through this, especially from a tech recruitment standpoint. In this post, we’ll explore why it’s essential to have a long-term plan in place to maintain and grow your technical staff.

Manage and Anticipate Future Marketplace Volatility

Accenture recently found that over 61% of executives feel that from a talent standpoint, they are not prepared to adapt to a technology-driven world. The key word in that sentence is “prepared.” Considering that technology impacts every company and industry, HR executives should anticipate and prepare for any marketplace volatility.

What do we mean by volatility? Let’s use data science roles as an example. In 2009, Hal Varian predicted that in the next ten years, the most in-demand jobs would be statisticians. Fast forward to 2018, where we find that IBM projects that the demand for data science professionals will increase 28% by 2020.

Now, think back to your developer hiring priorities just a couple of years ago. How closely were you following the buzz around data science, and how much pressure are you feeling to hire a Data Scientist today? While technical workforce planning won’t make it easier to recruit these in-demand developer types, this work will help you build a candidate pipeline before the competition reaches a fever pitch.

Defining Strategic Workforce Planning

A study by ADP found that even though executives agree that strategic workforce planning is essential, there’s little consensus over what it actually means. While 36% of respondents said that the primary objective is to retain key people and avoid skills gaps, another 33% believe that the outcome should be to understand and find the talent they need for the future.

Considering that 90% of developers are employed at least part-time, and 34% switched jobs within the last year, it’s clear that recruitment and retention should influence your technical workforce planning. The good news is that ADP’s survey shows us that HR leaders are free to establish their own outcomes for their long-term planning.

Your company probably has business objectives that it wants to meet over the next few years—and as a result, your workforce strategy should be designed to support it. Meet with engineering managers to review their roadmap for the next few years, which should also be aligned with your company’s goals. To guide your conversation, start with the questions below:

  • How is your team currently staffed to meet your goals? Are there any gaps that we should fill? 
  • Do you feel that we are doing everything possible to keep our technical workforce happy?
  • From a hiring standpoint, what have we done exceptionally well this year? What could be improved?

Not only will the answers help you understand future hiring priorities, but they also highlight gaps on your recruitment team. For some teams, this might lead to additional recruiting headcount. For others, this might justify increased budgets for sourcing or employer branding tools.

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