Tech Talent Recruiting: Identifying Hidden Talent Sources during the Labor Shortage

By Lisa Goodall Ashkinos ● 01/31/2022

Tech Talent Recruiting: Identifying Hidden Talent Sources during the Labor Shortage

By Lisa Goodall Ashkinos ● 01/31/2022

There’s good news about the labor shortage for tech talent recruitment leaders.


I know that for many of you, tech talent recruiting this coming year looks like a painful challenge. And you’re not alone.

Gartner reported that “businesses think that talent shortage is the biggest barrier to the adoption of 64% of new technologies.” And 73% of IT leaders shared with the Society for Human Resource Management that “recruiting technologists and filling open tech positions” is top of their list of “difficult IT problems to solve.”

But the news is good, really. But…the news is only good if you approach tech talent recruiting in a different way. Recruiting tech talent is not working the way we’ve always done it – casting lines over and over again into the same pool of talent – for two reasons:

  • The vastly accelerated growth of digital everything has exploded the need for tech talent, and
  • The Great Resignation has made retaining talent one of the hardest and most costly jobs for HR and engineering team leads

Here’s where you need to change your thinking:

We have an extraordinary pool of talent in our country – for companies that broaden their talent recruitment and development lens to see it.  

The Harvard Gazette calls one of the largest sources of potential talent, a talent pool that too often gets overlooked, particularly in the automated screening processes, the NEET pool of talent: “Not in Employment, Education or Training. That’s a person who doesn’t have a job, doesn’t have a degree, is not in school.”

The Gazette piece recommends that companies with hard-to-fill positions change how they view talent. There are simply not enough perfect prospects in our country who are already trained, ready for employment with degrees from 4 year colleges or graduate schools, and who have the precise work experience required.

Joseph B. Fuller, co-chair of the Managing the Future of Work project at Harvard Business School, said that companies seeking talent, “could solve many of their labor problems if they gave these workers a closer look, and gain a real advantage over competitors unwilling to do so, and improve workplace diversity.”

The Gazette article goes on to explain that HR and talent professionals should make that broader talent lens systemic – not just periodic “good citizenry efforts to promote inclusivity” because that’s too restrictive an approach. Fuller added that broadening the talent search lens should be “defined as a normal-course-of-business activity, where we recruit and develop talent from this worker population with a well-thought-out, well-designed, clear-eyed program, just the way we’d hire engineers from MIT,” adding that “companies that get good at this and clever about it and run it professionally, will outperform companies that don’t.”

In technology, software engineering bootcamps are a targeted source of NEET talent with measurable hard and soft skills for companies seeking to fill hard to fill seats. identified software development bootcamps as a valuable resource for tech talent recruiting that HR and talent leads should hire from – saying companies should look beyond being doing good to the value that bootcamp curricula brings to the table beyond addressing the labor shortage, pointing out that “bootcamps can quickly adapt their curricula to changing industry needs. That’s especially important in fields like software development, where the tools of the trade are constantly evolving. As a result, bootcamps can produce graduates whose skill sets are more relevant to companies’ current needs.” also points to the value that software engineering bootcamp graduates bring to their new teams after hire because they bring broader skill sets from earlier jobs in customer-facing fields like retail or customer service that “can give bootcamp graduates the coveted soft skills that employers value just as highly as hard skills.”

The organization added that, by hiring from boot camps, tech talent recruiting can be far more inclusive because bootcamps “can also produce more diverse candidates, particularly post-COVID, as Black, Latino, and women workers were among the most likely to have lost their jobs during the pandemic. Thus, these workers are likely to need reskilling, and they may be attracted to retraining programs because they’re shorter and less expensive than returning to school.”

Another approach that we are seeing to close the tech talent recruiting gap by closing the opportunity gap: tech talent recruiting leads are beginning to partner with software engineering bootcamps and other training organizations to cultivate net new tech talent. In this proactive talent development scenario, corporate sponsors fund all or a portion of student tech training program tuition for training previously “hidden” talented candidates that meet their background hard and soft skills objectives (e.g. data analytics skills for a market data conglomerate), and their tech team diversification objectives. In addition to building up their current tech team capabilities with new hard and soft skills, sponsoring companies also have the opportunity to tailor the tech training curricula to their own environment – reducing their onboarding costs with more job-ready tech talent. Interestingly, too, many companies find they have this ready source of talent to be cultivated already on staff today – in frontline roles like customer service. They can sponsor those internal candidates through the external software engineering bootcamp program too.

The benefits of widening that tech talent recruiting lens have proven to stretch beyond initial hire. Returning back to the study conducted by Heller and his team at Harvard, they found that “companies that have made some commitment to this…find that hidden workers are more productive, are more likely to stay, are positive contributors economically. Which is a key point: This is not feel-good capitalism; this is hard-nosed capitalism. But also, very often, [it can] have a positive impact on the broader workforce.”

And that is good news for tech talent recruiting during this Great Resignation.

To learn more about how Momentum can help you expand and upskill your tech talent pipeline, contact us today.

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