Building the Best Tech Workforce with Strategic Hiring

Hiring the right person for a job can be difficult in any industry—but when it comes to tech talent, strategic hiring is even more important. As a critical component in your overall business strategy, hiring technology professionals is about more than filling a job role.
Workforce Strategic Hiring

Hiring the right talent is difficult work. Large companies engage recruiting firms for a high cost simply to identify qualified candidates with the right tech skills to fill key roles within their organization. Even with the support of recruiting and talented HR personnel, hiring often doesn’t extend beyond filling an open position, leaving organizations to scramble again when turnover creates even more new spots to fill. With strategic hiring, organizations can begin to not just hire, but also create the right environment for retention and growth.

What is the difference between tactical and strategic hiring?

Tactical hiring involves the steps you take to fill a position. This usually involves tasks such as posting a job opening, reviewing resumes, screening candidates, interviewing and making a job offer. Once a candidate has accepted the job, tactical hiring would involve the requisite paperwork followed by onboarding. Complete these steps and you have a new employee.

By contrast, strategic hiring means developing a larger plan for hiring that allows you to meet your business goals. Strategic hiring is an approach for attracting talent that is designed to get your business where you want to be in a future state, rather than attending to the needs of your current state. This includes hiring candidates with skills that would support a growth model, rather than simply hiring an employee to meet your current technological needs. Put simply, you may not be looking for the job candidate who boasts dozens of achievements. Instead, maybe you need a leader with a propensity for problem solving. Strategic hiring means making decisions during the hiring process that will get you closer to that future state.

Strategic hiring calls for bringing on job candidates who can potentially elevate the organization in some way. Often, you need to examine a candidate’s career goals, desire for learning, ability to innovate and culture expectations to decide if one candidate is a better hire for your company over another. Really try to see beyond your immediate needs and identify how each candidate fits into your projected business plan.

HR Guide to Hiring IT pros

Why Strategic Hiring is Necessary When Recruiting Tech Talent

Hiring the right person for a job can certainly be a headache-inducing activity in any industry—but when it comes to tech talent, strategic hiring is particularly important. Once considered a siloed activity, technology is now a critical business function and strategic hiring is essential for any company hoping to build a resilient, scalable organization. As a critical component in your overall business strategy, technology requires more than just filling job roles. You need to ensure that your hires hold the potential for business growth.

You need to add technical expertise regarding technology that you have yet to implement. How can you recruit the right talent if you aren’t even sure what your tech needs may be? For starters, you want to target individuals that have good foundational knowledge and a thirst for learning and growing. This will ensure that your current technical team is prepared to take on next steps when it’s time to implement more advanced or new technology.

Beyond setting up the organization for expansion, strategic hiring has the following benefits for businesses:

  • Decreased turnover: Strategic hiring puts people in a position to grow and succeed within your company, leading to decreased turnover.
  • Less recruiting spend: LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report showed that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn. Plan to educate your tech talent and you’ll see greater employee retention, followed by decreased costs for recruitment.
  • Greater employee satisfaction: Employees who are satisfied with their jobs are driven to meet company goals and are invested in the organization’s success. These same employees also remain loyal to companies for the long term.
  • Enhanced productivity: The University of Oxford reports that happy employees lead to a 13% increase in productivity which results in higher revenue.
  • Better working environment and company culture: Employees who feel supported are happier and more secure in their jobs, making them more likely to contribute to a company’s success. In fact, “91% of managers in the U.S. say a candidate’s alignment with the company culture is equal to or more important than skills and experience,” according to Builtin.com.

How to Move From Tactical to Strategic Hiring

The tactical hiring approach certainly gets warm bodies in seats, but it doesn’t help support business growth or keep your business relevant and competitive in times to come. To move from tactical hiring to strategic hiring, use the following methods:

  • Identify your goals for future state: You can’t even begin to hire strategically if you have no idea of where the business is headed. Gather input from your key stakeholders to understand the comprehensive goals of the business and which technology will be needed to support that growth. Once you identify the tech tools, you can better nail down which job skills can support that growth.
  • Build a robust profile for the job by identifying traits of top performers: You no doubt have superstars in your midst—those top performers who consistently shine and are true problem solvers. Ask team members which traits are the most valuable and asses the key characteristics of what is making them the most successful. Develop a job profile with those characteristics so that you are hiring wisely and strategically.
  • Consider a succession plan: Part of your future state involves planning for succession and positioning qualified leadership appropriately. Identify which job candidates have leadership potential and invest in their learning so they are situated to take over technical leadership positions when needed.
  • Identify what really matters to your business strategy: Hone in on the key technical elements of how you will get to your ideal state. Identify clearly and concisely how your technology will support that strategy and then identify what kind of skills you need to get there.

Interested in developing an inclusive workforce capable of filling the pipeline for today’s and tomorrow’s technology careers? Learn more about CompTIA's Advancing Tech Talent and Diversity Community.

What Should You Look For As Part of Your Strategic Hiring Approach?

As technology advances and emerging tech becomes functional in the workplace, you will need tech talent that is capable of supporting those tools. Because you don’t hire with the expectation of high turnover, you can engage in strategic hiring to position your tech talent for the future.

Certain roles require necessary core skills to perform the job. CompTIA research has revealed that while those skills are still essential, common IT roles are shifting to require other emerging skillsets to support the ever-changing playing field of business technology. Strategic hiring allows you to better anticipate which skills will be needed to support that future state.

For example, while a network engineer needs to be able to install and configure equipment such as routers, firewalls and switches, there is now an enhanced need for secure networks which is requiring knowledge of SD-WANs and cloud-based firewalls. Similarly, while a cybersecurity engineer needs to know all about vulnerability assessments, there is now more of a need to understand and mitigate gaps in security created by cloud providers. Evaluating how emerging skills can support your technological evolution is no longer a luxury, it’s critical for business success.

To learn more about the emerging skills needed for common IT roles, check out The HR Manager’s Guide to Hiring IT Pros.

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