Hiring tech talent in 2023 means navigating an uncertain economy, the effects of widespread tech industry layoffs, and candidates who want to work for a company with a mission and workplace culture that align with their values, including diversity, equity, and inclusion.
IT leaders say the best approach is to focus on adaptability. Firms that want to innovate and grow while headcounts are in flux are looking to upskill talent from within, promote their firm’s strengths to prospective candidates, and broaden their pool of potential hires from nontraditional backgrounds.
Here we look at five hiring trends for 2023, five that are falling out of favor, and how organizations are adjusting to new hiring realities this year.
Hot: Diversity, equity, and inclusion
Nijah Barley, director of IT at McKissack & McKissack, says the most promising trend he’s seeing comes from forward-thinking companies focused on diversity in hiring and retainment.
“Recruiters are opening the door for so much talent of different genders, education, nationalities, and beliefs,” Barley says. “Diversity in professional backgrounds should be a common requirement.”
Michelle Skoor, chief workforce officer at Bitwise Industries, agrees. “More and more companies are now walking the walk when it comes to inclusivity, not only during recruiting but in focusing on retention and working with employees on their career pathways,” she says.
Rajan Kumar, vice president and CIO at Intuit, says the software maker recognizes the need to remove bias from the interview process to assess candidates fairly.
“One of the ways we’ve done this is to give candidates the opportunity to strategize in a similar way they would on the job,” Kumar says, “and then present to a small team that assesses their ability to think creatively and strategically.”
Cold: In short, hiring
Lily Mok, vice president and analyst at Gartner, says demand, even for hard-to-fill IT roles, has softened as the year closes. Because of economic uncertainty, about 40% of CIOs slowed hiring as 2022 wound down, and about 30% experienced hiring freezes.
“Recent layoffs from digital companies will ease but not solve the talent challenge,” Mok says. “Based on Gartner data, the overall supply of tech workers has increased only by a few percentage points at most. In key function areas, like data science, software engineering, and security, talent supply remains as tight or tighter than before.”
Dan Zimmerman, chief product and information officer of TreviPay, says the demand for talent in 2022 was so fierce that it was driving up IT salaries faster than inflation. The good news, for hiring managers at least, he says, is that salaries should come out of the stratosphere a bit in 2023.
“Companies needed to move quickly, and you must hire fast to go fast, so many companies were required to overpay for talent,” Zimmerman says. “Given the number of layoff and hiring freezes across the industry in the last 60 days, we anticipate attrition will slow, make recruiting a bit easier, and temper the pace of salary inflation in the first half of 2023.”
External hires are increasingly likely to leave after just a couple of years in a new role, says CIO Fariha Rizwan of Z2C Limited. Smart hiring managers will look within, as she says tech workers promoted internally stick around longer.
“In the six months it takes to hire, onboard, and get a new employee up to speed, you can train someone into the role,” she says. “The business keeps a high performer who would have left without the opportunity to advance. Internal training programs and structured career paths tell people that we believe in them and will invest in them.”
Cold: Poaching high performers
Market uncertainties have made recruiting more difficult in surprising ways, says Dru Kirk, vice president of talent acquisition for Marqeta. A potential hire’s current employer is often the toughest competition for top talent, Kirk says.
“We’re moving away from the era of the Great Resignation,” she says. “We’re unfortunately seeing a rise in hiring freezes, rescinded offers, and layoffs in the market, and, because of this, our talent acquisition team is actually seeing that it’s more challenging for employees to leave a company where they feel secure. Companies who are preparing for market insecurities are simultaneously working really hard to retain their top talent. This has shifted from 2021 and earlier in 2022 when we were competing with multiple market opportunities with new companies.”
Hot: Casting a wide net
Rizwan says innovative thinking around hiring new staff from outside technology fields is on the rise, especially if the prospective hires have experience turning a profit.
“Recruiters in the technology space have started to consider and hire IT staff who come from traditional industries,” Rizwan says. “This has proven to work well in order to get a fresh perspective on the problem and diversify the hiring pool. There is also a newfound trend in hiring product managers with a track record of turning innovation into revenue.”
JT Scott, vice president of global finance technology and innovation for Walmart Global Tech, says he’s seeing an increase in nontraditional paths to tech jobs “such as coding boot camps or company-sponsored upskilling. Investing in these nontraditional paths are broadening the talent pool and benefiting both candidates and employers.”
Mike Bechtel, chief futurist at Deloitte Consulting, says the company’s recent research suggests the most in-demand ability is flexibility.
“We’ve found that the shelf life of any given emerging technology is down to about 2.5 years,” Bechtel says. “Competing for the mythical 10x engineer finds the employer fruitlessly searching, or worse, finding and overpaying for an expensive deep specialist whose skills may no longer be in demand in a few years.”
Bechtel sees a trend of hiring “high aptitude, positive-attitude polymaths who can get very deep in an emerging tech for a few years and then change it up and get very deep in something altogether different for a few years after that.”
A related Deloitte tech trends report suggests AI, farther out, will phase out much of the lower-tier tasks associated with IT today. And again, the solution for organizations is a focus on the ability to adapt.
“By building a skills-based organization, tapping into creative sources for finding talent, and providing a compelling talent experience, companies can meet their talent goals,” the report reads. “Organizations should plan to brush up on their humanities, as AI technology advances enough to carry out many of the lower-order tasks that IT teams are burdened with today.”
Thomas Vick, regional director for Robert Half’s technology practice group, says that, in particular, demand has dropped for quality assurance engineers and level 1 help desk work.
“On the flip side, we have seen AI and digitalization create new jobs that didn’t exist before,” Vick says. “In short, the jobs that are more focused on automation — AI and digitalization — have become more in demand while those positions that are more siloed or manual have become less in demand.”
Hot: Creating candidate profiles
McKissack & McKissack’s Barley says hiring managers are looking to go beyond checking boxes for technical chops. Organizations are creating profiles of prospective employees that factor in much-needed soft skills.
“The increased use of pre-employment testing and nontraditional interview questions can assess a candidate for success factors beyond their current job responsibilities,” Barley says. “Adaptability, problem-solving, and communication must be equally weighed during the interview process for a positive performance outcome of the role. With these details, an organization can create a profile to help refine the criteria for hiring in the role.”
Cold: In-person networking
Vick says location-based job finding opportunities for tech pros are falling away, a lasting effect of the COVID pandemic.
“When it comes to finding tech talent, we have found that in-person networking events have become more rare,” he says. “Virtual meetups and peer group chat rooms have taken the place of in-person networking events. The ones that are in person are really with a purpose, for example, networking events tied to a certification, and the opportunity to network is not what it once was.”
Hot: Focus on cultural fit
Employers are and employees are both looking for a cultural fit, says Andrey Ivashin, CIO at Dyninno Group, with the idea that shared values also lead to better business outcomes.
“Great salary and dynamic work opportunities are not enough anymore,” Ivashin says. “There is an increased interest in having strong values, social responsibility, and inclusive work culture, among other benefits.”
Ivashin says employee branding is critical. Candidates want to work for companies that they can trust and that make their values clear to employees and the public. And, he says, job candidates are increasingly active in researching potential employers to find a suitable role.
“Job seekers now vet their hiring managers to make sure they find a good cultural fit with their prospective employer. It’s become a part of how candidates make their decisions,” he says. “By collecting references about the potential direct manager, the person can make a more thought-through decision and decide whether to join the company or not.”
Cold: Finding talent in hard-to-find areas
Gartner’s Mok says that demand across IT roles declined in December, but currently the hardest jobs to fill include AI and machine learning engineers, cloud architects, cybersecurity or security analyst/engineers, solution architects, IT systems engineers, and full-stack developers.
Even among hiring slow-downs and freezes, CIOs need to fill certain roles to meet 2023 objectives, Mok says, like cybersecurity, cloud platforms, analytics/business intelligence/data science, and project management. Many IT leaders are beginning to rethink how they hire for these difficult-to-fill roles.
“Recent layoffs from digital companies will ease but not solve the talent challenge,” she says. “Based on Gartner data, the overall supply of tech workers has increased only by a few percentage points at most. In key function areas, like data science, software engineering, security function, talent supply remains as tight or tighter than before.”
Alisia Genzler, group president and chief client Officer of Randstad Technologies, says the company has seen a shift in demand for what were formerly nuanced roles that are now mainstream, “such as data scientists, which have seen more than a 3,000% increase in job postings since 2012, and data engineers, which have seen job postings increase by 2,000% over the same period.”