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Technology recruiters highlight how fast-paced technology changes are impacting on sourcing key talent

Nowhere is the celebrated ‘Kiwi ingenuity’ gene more present than in New Zealand’s IT sector, which continues to raise the nation’s profile and reputation overseas.

Nowhere is the celebrated ‘Kiwi ingenuity’ gene more present than in New Zealand’s IT sector, which continues to raise the nation’s profile and reputation overseas.

Driven by the pace of global technology advances, the demand for IT professionals is outstripping supply. In addition, employers are seeking a new breed of IT professional that is both technology and business savvy, as companies realise the inextricable link between business growth and IT.

The talent shortage is not catastrophic, agree OCG’s technology sector experts, however there are high demand areas, including Business Intelligence, Security, Mobility and transformation projects where the shortages are felt acutely.

For business to continue to grow and innovate there are three key strategies they need to consider, that will assist in combating these growing talent shortages;

1. Grow your own

"With the introduction of mobility, ‘cloud’ advances and the speed of change in the technology landscape new talent shortages are emerging,” says Clare O’Sullivan, Manager OCG Technology - Auckland.

"For most companies, the pace of change means it is not feasible to recruit an expert in every new technology that comes along, and even if it is possible, sometimes these experts don’t fit the brief the client is looking for.

"One of the ways companies can get around this is by utilising the strengths of someone already within their organisation and tailoring their skills to the company’s needs. This will also prevent star performers from looking outside the company to develop themselves.”

"Unfortunately some New Zealand employers are nervous of investing in training for less skilled staff members for fear of losing their investment to another company. However, by keeping employees motivated with secondments, new projects and other incentives, employers can reap the rewards for their own company,” Says Paul O’Donovan, Manager OCG Technology – Christchurch.

”The grow-your-own approach is especially pertinent in Wellington, where often overseas candidates who do tick the necessary skills boxes are unable to take public sector roles due to the Government’s stringent security requirements,” says Diana Palezevic, Manager OCG Technology – Wellington

Wellington employers may be surprised by the calibre of New Zealand’s IT graduates, who offer an alternative solution to the skills shortage.

Palezevic adds, "It’s hard for IT graduates to secure that first job, yet this is a group of people who are fresh, eager to please, willing to work hard and want to learn as much as they can. If you throw them in at the deep end, the chances are they will swim and you will have a loyal employee at the end of it. In more recent years IT graduates can come from all walks of life. It is not uncommon that people change their careers even in the later stages of their life .The benefit for employers is that they already have work experience but now also have a sought after technical skill set.”

It has been also noted that when New Zealand’s young IT graduates go overseas, they return a few years later at a more senior level and with broader experience than those who stayed here. This is because they were given those opportunities early on their careers.

2. Recruiters help to find the right personality

As change occurs more rapidly, a candidate’s ability to learn the latest technology becomes his or her most important skill, therefore employers should look for those with the right attitude and aptitude for learning.

Employers may feel that hiring on this basis carries a risk, but robust recruitment processes can minimise this.

"OCG’s tests and behavioural based interview techniques give clients a real picture of a candidate’s skills and personality and how they will behave in the workplace.” says Clare. "All our candidates complete technical testing, which is an extremely useful tool for establishing exactly what technical skills a candidate has. We then conduct a competency interview to ensure the right cultural fit is there to match the client’s brief.

"Our tests show that the technical skills of many candidates are not as broad as they can look on paper, particularly when they have come from large companies where they have been pigeon-holed in one department.

"Candidates that have an aptitude for learning and the right attitude are key in helping with the talent shortage. These two factors present employers with a unique opportunity. Employing a less skilled recruit can create salary savings, yet clients can be reassured by recruiter’s testing and interview processes that their new recruit will quickly develop the skills they are lacking.”

3. Candidates should stay one click away from promotion

For candidates, keeping abreast of global IT developments is crucial in an industry that changes more rapidly than most.

Paul says, "Candidates need to be savvy about seeking out opportunities within their organisation. Be aware of which direction your company is leaning, learn about it and have the flexibility to go that way if you need to.”

"Candidates would also do well to break free from the IT professional stereotype, and show off their communication skills by being upfront about what they have to offer an organisation and how they will fit into the team.”

No other area of business has evolved as rapidly as the technology sector. Businesses are creating new roles, embracing new technologies and re-shaping business teams to meet these changes, and their approach to recruitment should be a part of this change.

These are also challenging and exciting times for recruiters, who will need to keep up with the pace by seeking innovative solutions to recruitment issues as they arise.