How to Undo Traditional Tech Hiring Practices

Everyone has a role in bringing new minds into the technology industry, including parents, educators and hiring managers, and it starts with undoing some of the traditional tech hiring practices.
4 ways to find and hire tech workers HEADER

Everyone has a role in bringing new minds into technology, said CompTIA community’s leader Kathleen Martin. “Parents, educators and businesses—yes, you—can play a key role in inviting people into the tech workforce,” she said. For IT companies, it starts with undoing some of the traditional hiring practices. Here are four tips for those hiring and looking to add new points of view to the industry. 

Celebrate All Sorts of Education

About a third of adults who’d like to be in IT are afraid they can’t because they don’t have a four-year degree, according to research from CompTIA in The Role of the Confidence Gap in Tech Career Development. It’s possible to have a successful tech career without a computer science degree—plenty of MSPs have run companies for decades on their hard-learned knowledge without a degree to back it up. So why do so many IT job applications require a college degree?

“We have to destigmatize not getting a four-year degree,” said Carolyn April, senior director of industry analysis at CompTIA during the Combined Workforce Communities Meeting: The IT Workforce of 2026 session at ChannelCon 2019. 

Today, new collar technology jobs focus on skills-centered training and performance-based credentials. “Companies like IBM are relaxing their requirements on four-year degrees, and parents need to start thinking about the way we view that path toward success,” said Sue Krautbauer, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Techadox. “It used to be that the only way to get in the workforce was to go to college, but it’s not that way anymore.”

It’s not enough to change the HR requirements, said Aaron Woods, principal consultant at CEX Services LLC, and show potential IT pros the steps to getting work. “We need to ensure kids understand specifically what it is that they need to do to enter the IT workforce,” he said. “A lot of these kids start with coding but don’t continue. You’ve got to start with the educational piece to let them know what they need to do.”

Invest in Soft Skills

Increasingly, tech jobs are not what we think of, said April. Today’s tech jobs are interactive—person to person, client to developer, project manager to team. “A lot of jobs require soft skills,” said April. “You can help you shore up the bottom line if your team can develop these people skills.”

Creativity, persuasion, adaptability and time management, those are the most in-demand job skills, said Krautbauer, citing workforce data from LinkedIn. As companies continue transitioning to virtual offices, people need great social skills to be able to keep up.

Woods manages many people remotely, and said the soft skills piece is essential to remote projects. “With the teams I manage, it’s very important for everyone on the team have social skills,” he said.

Use Blind Testing

There’s a near-consensus on diversity’s impact on innovation across all segments of the IT industry: Most people agree a group of diverse thinkers are more likely to produce world-class innovation than a roomful of carbon copies, according to CompTIA’s Diversity in the High-Tech Industry report. To bring in real diversity of thought, sometimes you have to take out the human element, said Krautbauer, describing the online talent software she uses for hiring, a blind application that matches skills and styles with job requirements.

“Instead of job descriptions they set up profiles and then skill sets, and a log rhythm matches them up,” said Krautbauer. “It’s really a blind application until those matches are made, and it’s really helping get over those preconceived notions that are pervasive in HR.”

Find People In New Places

Every company is in the technology industry now, said April, and we need to let the next generation of tech pros know that working in IT doesn’t mean working at a big-name tech company. “You can work in healthcare or fashion and still work in tech,” April said. “That excites kids more.”

April is a former journalist who pivoted her media experience into tech research. “In a study I did recently, we found girls initially do express a great interest in technology and one of the reasons they lose interest is they start to get the impression they could only work in the tech industry, and that it was populated with old white men and they wouldn’t fit in,” April said. “If we can change that perception we’re going to see a lot more girls stick with it.”

To find new people, seek out recruitment events that speak specifically to the groups you’re trying to recruit. If you’re hiring women, for example, the Women in Technology Summit (WITS) happens five times a year across the U.S. and draws hundreds of women working in tech, including some who are looking for a roadmap to get there. And that's just one example.  

Are you dedicated to supporting tech workforce diversity? Download the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Plan for SMBs, and learn how to leverage diversity for your business.

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