Computer Futures

IT Recruitment Trends 2016 – A brave new world

The prospects for IT recruitment in 2016 are good as the signs are the sector will continue the trend of 2015 when recruitment figures bounced back to a rate not seen since before the recession. Companies have been hiring and as a result the demand for skilled professionals has outstripped that of supply.

We expect the contract world to continue to grow too as in 2015 when growth was due to the shortage of potential permanent staff and the increase in the need to be able to drop in specialist skills that don’t fall under the umbrella of business as usual.

Recruitments trends in IT though are not just about numbers; there are significant trends evolving that show a continuing maturation of the market that will have far reaching impacts upon the roles available and on recruiting for them.

The rise of new IT specialisms

As digital continues to embed itself deeper and deeper in our lives, businesses continue to evolve, grow and change to adapt and take advantage of the opportunities technology provides. The days of an IT team being one entity are gone and in its place are roles with new titles that indicate increased specialisation and a narrower, more precise focus.

“Cyber security, digital, big data – these big, catch-all words are often still driving the overall agenda of many companies,” explains Kalpesh Baxi, Senior Partner at SThree. “But once we explore the exact requirements of a client we find these terms can mean a host of different things. We’re seeing a big shift as new job titles emerge in the marketplace such as digital strategists. These titles can mean different things depending on the sector they’re in and require a more sophisticated approach to recruitment as we translate client needs into skills requirements and then unearth the best and most suitable candidates. ”

At senior levels while the technological end of the market is still very much driven by the IT Director, the information end is driven by the Chief Information Officer or even the Chief Marketing Officer. More companies are seeing a need for a Chief Digital Officer (CDO), someone who can oversee the entire digital strategy of a company and foresee what may be around the corner. Chief Security Officer (CSO) is another role that we expect to see more of as the threat of cybersecurity becomes increasingly more common”

The increased need for business and communication skills

A really important but unexpected requirement coming to the fore is around communication. “In the past, if you were a tech specialist, communication skills wouldn’t feature heavily in the requirements for your role because it was your tech skills that were important. Today, there’s an increasing understanding that the end user has to be part of the technology requirements, and you need to be able to communicate with them,” says Kalpesh.

“Roles such as CDO need have to have strong communication skills which ensure they can factor into how the users will interact with digital channels and how to sell ideas internally as well as a commercial understanding of what a business does”, he add, “it’s increasingly important for those on the technical side of the business to be able to translate and communicate the technical requirements into that business,” he adds.

This has become especially important in Cybersecurity where candidates need to be strong technically to cope with increasing threats to the organisation’s systems but also be able to communicate in simple terms to those not technical of what the real commercial impact is and why, along with the risks associated.

The pros and cons of the digital native

As more millennials enter the workforce the impact of these tech-savvy digital natives is bound to impact work culture and processes.

“In today’s world how you communicate is different,” explains Kalpesh. “From a simple point of view, most people don’t have a home telephone, and if you want to communicate with someone you do it via your smartphone on the go, social media, via text, via email or via apps like WhatsApp. It’s a generational gap, Gen X and Y work differently and you need to know how to bring this together. Academia has now cottoned on to the fact that sending graduates into the world of work needs more than excellent theory, business and communication modules are now common elements of courses.”

Digital natives offer obvious advantages to businesses as they’ve been born into a world where digital communications are the norm and they have a deep understanding of how to manoeuvre through and use digital channels. Some studies however have cited potential issues over their ability to communicate as well over more traditional channels and with those who aren’t as fluent in “digitalese”, while those who didn’t grow up in the digital age are similarly sometimes rejected when they have plenty to offer.

“Those from the ‘fax’ generation shouldn’t be discounted,” says Kalpesh. “There’s no reason why they can’t learn the new landscape and adapt to it just as easily.”

How should companies align their recruitment strategies?

Companies need to be more flexible about the entire hiring process, particularly for those at entry level. Firstly, if they restrict their search for talent to, say, university graduates from a specific university or degree subject, then they could be missing out on a great pool of technical talent that might have rejected the formality and cost that comes with further education. This basic level filter is not always valid anymore. Secondly, they should take advantage of the rise in technical testing, which is a quick and easy way to measure competence and can be easily added to the recruitment process. Thirdly, the art or practice of interviewing has also changed; it’s no longer acceptable to ask a candidate to sell themselves to the organisation, the organisation also has to sell itself, by talking about their culture and wider opportunities they can offer. Moreover, the interview itself can be more flexible, i.e. over video conferencing, FaceTime or Skype.

The Internet of Things is here

The world is changing at a rapid rate in every sector. The impact of the Internet of Things is only going to grow as the interconnectedness of devices and systems and the ability to predict needs as or even before they happen increases. Business need to gear up for how they are going to seamlessly integrate with individuals; for example healthcare is increasingly focusing on a preventative approach using technology; utilities companies are giving you the ability to have greater control on your heating at home via your smartphone and finance is facing up to the real threat that Fintech poses to its business.

“The key challenge for recruiters is understanding how to capture the right audience,” states Kalpesh, “2016 will continue to see a shortage of skilled professionals, and recruitment companies will be key in helping organisations find them. We have heard in the past that the job boards will kill recruitment – that hasn’t happened. We heard how social media and LinkedIn would have a negative impact – but that hasn’t happened either. It’s great to have all these different avenues but someone still needs to understand how to identify the right candidate.”