6 Ways to Beat the Tech Talent Squeeze in 2023

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Katarzyna Rój

Updated Mar 24, 2023 • 10 min read
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What’s the biggest mistake a company can make when it comes to talent acquisition in 2023? Against the current backdrop of economic uncertainty, rising costs, and the Great Resignation, I’d say it’s failing to recognize the value of internal talent and sticking to old ways.

While it might be tempting to rely on rigid procedures or strict return-to-office policies, now, more than ever, you need to remain flexible, agile, and open to new approaches.

Digital acceleration is the key to long-term success – but knowing that and making it work are two very different things. How can you fill the talent gap to accelerate digital when experts predict that the shortage in certain areas will only become more severe over time?

The good news is there are things you can do to get out in front.

In October 2022, I had the pleasure of discussing this topic at the Netguru Disruption Forum in Berlin with Manjuri Sinha, Global Director of Talent Acquisition, Employer Branding & Onboarding at OLX Group; Sérgio Laranjeira, Director of Engineering at Delivery Hero; and Staale Nerboe, Chief Technology Officer at Ratepay.

Manjuri Sinha, Sérgio Laranjeira and Staale Nerboe at the panel

Manjuri Sinha, Sérgio Laranjeira, Staale Nerboe and Katarzyna Rój at the panel

I’ve boiled down the insights from that session to bring you what I think matters most in talent acquisition going into 2023 and six areas you can focus on to make an impact in your business right now.

Where are we now?

In a recent survey by KPMG, executives named a lack of capable talent, high recruiting costs, and skills deficits as their biggest challenges in adopting new technologies. The problem is far from new, but rising inflation, unfavorable interest rates, and growing cyber risk have all added pressure to the issue, which looks set to stay for the foreseeable future.

We also can’t ignore the impact of the looming recession on talent acquisition, although I disagree with the view that talent leaders now have a much tougher job than before. It’s just a different kind of tough. Why?

We’ve always had to fight for talent in a marketplace of passive candidates – that hasn’t changed. However, it is true that the current uncertainty might convince some professionals to seek stability rather than new challenges, making it harder to persuade them to jump ship.

There is, however, one small glimmer of hope for companies. Although it’s never something you’d wish for, the series of layoffs that saw more than 100,000 tech workers out of a job in the second half of 2022 means that we’ll likely see a big re-shuffle.

Staale Nerboe speaking at the panel

Staale Nerboe speaking at the panel

For high-profile professionals, this means a chance to land an interesting new job and advance their career, while companies will get access to previously unavailable talent.

What can you do to beat the squeeze?

While hiring and retaining great talent certainly remains difficult, it’s by no means impossible if you’re willing to rethink your approach. Here are the six areas I think matter most right now.

1. Shine a spotlight on internal talent

In talent management, your focus needs to shift from acquisition to retention. As Manjuri and Sérgio pointed out during our panel, the crazy way that businesses scaled during times of market stability made people overlook a critical component: internal talent.

So, as you prepare your strategy for the upcoming years, don’t just think about business goals or KPIs, factor in employee growth.

People leave because of a lack of career development and opportunities – we can’t let this happen. We need to work out how we can upskill internal talent, introduce an internal mobility marketplace, and let people try new things or follow new career paths while nurturing company culture and employee growth more generally.

2. Choose leaders carefully and train them well

New research from McKinsey cites uncaring and uninspiring leaders as one of the top five reasons why people left their jobs in the last two years. That’s nothing new, right?

I believe it is, though, and it can (and should) be avoided. Sure, money is an important factor, particularly in less attractive projects, but as Manjuri pointed out: when cash is expensive, you need to focus on all the other ways you can attract and retain talent.

Manjuri Sinha speaking at the panel

Manjuri Sinha speaking at the panel

Good leaders understand how to approach projects that are harder to staff, they’re able to bring the team together around a clear mission and make it fun, and they can help people find purpose in their tasks.

As Staale noted, when getting rid of legacy systems, tools, or processes, a good leader will help people realize how many lines of code they’re deleting instead of how many lines of code they’re writing. Make sure you have the right leaders in place and train them continuously.

3. Create a top-notch digital environment

As our CEO, Marek Talarczyk pointed out in his latest story, optimizing digital work is one of the top five trends that will drive digital acceleration in 2023, and I couldn’t agree more. Whether you offer your employees remote working options or not, nobody wants to struggle with internal tooling.

Cutting-edge solutions are now a necessity, so tackle your technical debt, automate mundane tasks and simple processes, and give your people user-friendly platforms that make it easier to collaborate and move tasks forward.

If you’re unsure which tooling to go for, ask your people what they’d like, and see if you can accommodate their needs.

4. Go remote and maximize the diversity of your talent pools

With top talent in short supply, I’d say it’s vital to expand your horizons and look for talent in new locations, either by opening offices in new places or enabling remote working in the locations you currently have. Yes, it comes with some challenges, such as legislation that hasn’t yet caught up with the modern job market, but the payoff is entirely worth it.

I’m still amazed by how some leaders struggle with trust in remote work.

At Netguru, we’re remote by default and have been since 2008 – and we continue to grow. It’s possible.

As Manjuri highlighted, remote work has opened up remarkable opportunities, especially in locations where you already have an office. But even if you don’t, it’s possible to tackle the complex legal regulations; it just takes a little more time.

5. Consider introducing an internal project marketplace

The number of talent leaders talking about internal project marketplaces has risen sharply in recent years. So what’s the new trend all about? On the one hand, smart digital platforms can help managers make the most of internal talent by matching unique skill sets and expertise with specific projects. On the other, they enable professionals to find the most fulfilling projects for them using the very same tools.

Both the organization and employees benefit from more efficient talent management, improved growth path planning, and greater transparency across the organization, which boosts employee engagement and satisfaction.

6. Become more flexible

As the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of invention,” and when times are tough, you learn faster than ever before. I know we certainly have. Striking the perfect match between candidate and employee needs is beneficial to everyone, but it doesn’t happen by accident.

Sérgio Laranjeira speaking at the panel

Sérgio Laranjeira speaking at the panel

Strive to get to know your people and candidates as well as you possibly can. Stay close to them, respond to signals, and offer an environment genuinely built around employee or candidate experience, not one that pays lip service to it.

Incorporating more flexibility also extends to adjusting to your people’s needs at any given time. Take freelancers, for example. For many, this mode of work is a perfect fit, but if you have a freelancer who wants to make the jump to a regular contract, you should be able to make it happen.

Have confidence in exploring new avenues

As we head into 2023 with the tech talent shortage squeezing as tightly as ever, now is the time to embrace new ways of managing talent acquisition and retention.

I’m certain that by thinking differently, it’s still possible to attract, retain, and develop the necessary talent to capture the value of digital acceleration and outperform your competitors who remain stuck in their ways.

The key is to take a holistic approach rather than aiming to excel at one area in isolation. By adopting an employee-centric strategy that nurtures internal talent, promotes great leaders, and makes smart use of cutting-edge technology, you’ll be perfectly positioned to win the global battle for tech talent in the year ahead.

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Katarzyna Rój

Head of Talent Acquisition at Netguru

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