Chicago is home to its share of startups, satellite tech campuses, Fortune 500s, and innovators across verticals. Yet the Second City’s tech climate differs from that of Silicon Valley and NYC. CBRE’s Annual “Scoring Tech Talent” report placed Chicago among the top 15 metro markets, but the city trails behind the top spot.
Local businesses do their part to nurture new ideas and IT talent. But until the local market grows more “redwood” tech companies to yield greater credibility and visibility, Chicago’s sourcing obstacles will be those of a tech sector still working through its growing pains. For the immediate future, these are the three challenges in hiring tech talent Chicago companies must overcome.
Finding Scarce IT Talent
Like every tech market, IT talent shortages exist in Chicago. The local tug-of-war between supply and demand always influences hiring for certain technical roles. On the plus side, a wellspring of universities feed the local talent pool and prevent pervasive scarcities. However, a few critical IT roles at local and national levels regularly encounter depleted head counts.
On the local level, the biggest hiring challenges in tech stem from distinct disciplines. The TransTech IT Staffing Survey 2017 found that 56% of IT decision makers value three types of skillsets as the most important in their candidate searches above all else: Application Development skills (32%), Cybersecurity skills (30%), and Data Analytics (22%).
In all cases, these responses reflect some of the most challenging roles to fill because of the prominent need in the Chicago market. Cyberattacks on US businesses are rising at an alarming rate. Long-standing programming languages continue to drive development projects, but expert practitioners are in short supply. As the enterprise world mandates smart data analysis and even machine learning as part of the cost for doing business, savvy analytical minds grow as a hot commodity.
Market data from other industry sources suggests that business needs are often restricted by ongoing shortages. Burning Glass judges the average IT vacancy to last 45 days, but fill times for certain IT roles far surpass the average. System Analyst and Java Architect positions remain open for 63 days, Salesforce/CRM Developers for 54 days, and Cybersecurity Consultants for 53 days. Lengthy hiring processes reflect just how deep shortages run.
In urban centers like Chicago, talent shortages are even more deeply felt. San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Austin enjoy a greater share of IT job searches and challenge other metro tech centers to make strategic choices about their hiring process if they want to reduce their average time to hire.
Preventing Job Offer Rejection
Candidates possess an edge at the negotiation table. Shortages of experienced IT professionals present those qualified few with a desirable position – their preferred choice from the best job offers. An elementary school kid with a plate of mom’s homemade brownies never offers so good.
Not surprisingly, decision makers tasked with attracting candidates in the Chicago market are growing accustomed to rejection. What causes job offer rejection? Our IT Staffing Survey found two primary motivations. Decision makers report that 30% of rejections are motivated by compensation while another 30% justify their choice as a better opportunity. Though not surprising, both sources of rejection are surmountable, if handled appropriately.
Of the three tech talent hiring challenges, meeting a candidate’s salary requirements demands ongoing research. Bureau of Labor Statistic reports, CareerBuilder data portals, and salary data gathered by staffing firms on the front line contribute to a more realistic briefing on competitive compensation. The only trick is to have that information ready before the offer is made. Trying to revise job offers after a rejection just encourages a grim bidding war that wastes time.
On the surface, candidates wanting a better opportunity are hard to sway. How can an organization convince candidates from choosing a “better fit”? The answer lies in the company’s sales pitch. Candidates are receptive to the way companies sell their brand as they interview job candidates. Appealing to candidates’ motives, asking questions about their needs, and being transparent about their chances at the job helps to avoid rejection in the first place.
Finding the Right Fit in the First Place
One of the biggest hiring challenges in tech happens after the offer has been accepted. Whether through fall-off or termination, employee turnover during the onboarding stage is toxic. All of the hiring and training expenses associated with that person are a total wash. Though Chicago tech companies aren’t dealing with this more than other tech metros, they have less leeway due to the stress upon their talent pool.
Unfortunately, early turnover is a problem. Though 86% of new hires decide upon their future with a company in the first six months, some accelerate their departure. Fall-off continues as counteroffers pull certain candidates away. Additionally, our own IT Staffing Survey found 42% of respondents saying that they had to terminate a contractor they found within 30 days of onboarding. All of these problems stem from a lax prequalification process.
In our experience, skimping on prequalification steps produces higher employee turnover. That is why our own prequalification process is designed to identify and screen out high risk candidates early. Our distinct methodology focuses on candidates’ needs, turnover risk factors, and other criteria to prevent our clients from having to immediately repeat their hiring process. That saves them time, money, and productivity losses.
Responding to Challenges in Hiring Tech Talent
Hiring IT candidates will always be complex. The extent to which demand surpasses the talent supply puts an automatic strain on Chicago tech companies. Going through the effort to research compensation, target the ideal candidate, and prequalify prospects takes up time that many companies cannot spare. Especially when the right staffing partner is able to efficiently handle those hiring steps to find a long-term fit.
Our prequalification process finds highly skilled IT candidates who will harmonize with your environment. Learn about how our TransTech IT Staffing process can simplify your next hire.