The IT Recruitment Crystal Ball: Our Predictions for 2023
What are people thinking about at the moment – new skills, remote working, a lack of talent to fill positions...
What are people thinking about at the moment – new skills, remote working, a lack of talent to fill positions or something else? And what can we expect more of in 2023?
We sat down with our director Andy Bristow to summarise the patterns and up-and-coming trends we’ve noticed – both candidate and client-side – and highlight what you should bear in mind over the next 12 months.
The general outlook for the new year
As 2022 comes to a close, hiring won’t freeze entirely, but we will see firms re-evaluating open roles, putting them on hold for a while or going through a re-sign-off process, which will slow things down for candidates.
Of course, this creates an advantage for companies that know they have a gap and need to hire. If you don’t have that re-evaluation process to deal with, you’ll be able to drive ahead with recruitment while everyone else is dithering and have more choice when it comes to talent that wants to move, and do so quickly. It’s an opportunity to really get ahead of the market.
However, any roles that do crop up will just be adding to the current situation: there are more open positions than individuals to fill them. A bit of heat might come out of the market, but not much. 2023 should be interesting. In the early part of the year, we don’t expect to see much change, but as we transition from Q1 into Q2 many businesses will start to reassess what they’re doing with IT, and demand will ramp up again.
Candidates – what’s in demand right now?
This will sound reassuring to everyone looking for a new IT or development job right now – or thinking of entering the market soon – but the traditional project delivery roles are still very much in demand.
Firms continue to need developers, business analysts, project managers, testers and all associated roles around this on this infrastructure side, especially when businesses are going through cloud migrations. It’s interesting that people are talking about an incoming recession when we’re still in a situation of full employment and, from an IT perspective, we don’t see this changing.
The reason for this is, even if there is a recession, smart businesses will still have to invest in IT. Sooner or later, we’ll come out of recession and if your IT isn’t up to scratch then you’ll be at a competitive disadvantage. A lot of project work is already getting bogged down because firms don’t have the staff to fulfil it. These firms will be hoping there is a slow-down, so they’ll have the space to get more staff and deliver on these projects but, ultimately, the demand for skilled IT staff is going to stay strong throughout 2023.
Are there any ‘hot’ sectors where demand is especially high?
Outsourced services is quite a hot sector still, partly because businesses are finding it difficult to attract and retain their own staff, so are outsourcing more. Managed IT service providers are seeing more and more work coming their way, and in turn are seeing their own challenges in meeting that demand. The same is true for digital agencies and software development houses. Broadly speaking, any area where IT underpins the business is going to be a hot sector for the next 12 months.
Do you see any particular skills gaps in the market at the moment?
One of our core areas is software development, and we simply don’t have enough software developers to fulfil the requirements in the market right now. And it doesn’t look like this will change any time soon. If you’re a software developer, then this is good news for you. Less so if you are looking to hire into that space.
This emphasises how important it is to have your ducks in a row as an employer when you go to market, so you stand the best chance of securing the talent you need. Which brings us nicely onto…
Clients – what do you need to be aware of?
First and foremost, every client needs to bear in mind that anyone they speak to is going to be talking to someone else. And that no matter how great a job you think you’ve got to offer, everyone else thinks the same about the jobs they’re offering.
So, the level of competition you’re in to get candidates is so high that if you want to hire someone you can expect there to be probably one, if not two or three, other businesses wanting to hire them too. This means you have to set your expectations properly from the start. We can go through all the stages of the recruitment process and narrow options down to the final candidate, but you have to understand that even at that stage – all other things being equal – you only have a one in two chance, at best, of securing that person.
Being aware of this can then guide what else you do in the process to try to get that 50% chance up to a 70% or 80% chance or better.
“You need to be displaying all the way through your engagement with the candidate that you know what you’re doing.”
What can clients do to beat the competition?
Some people think it might be all about the money now. The way we look at it is that the amount of money you’ve got to offer gets you around the table. If you’re not offering the right salary, you just won’t see the right people. Some clients get frustrated at this point, but it’s just the price of entry.
Assuming the salary is at the market level, it gets to be about more than that. What’s interesting is these factors differ across the generations. Someone in their 40s or 50s will have different requirements to candidates in their 20s. Younger candidates are far more interested in modern agendas, social inclusion and social responsibility for businesses, whereas more mature candidates will be concerned about pension contributions and similar.
But people’s priorities have always changed as they got older. What you need to understand is that to get people through the door you need to have a tight recruitment process. You need to be displaying all the way through your engagement with the candidate that you know what you’re doing. You’ve got a clear sense of purpose. You’ve got a clear sense of the mission within your business. And you’re certain of your actions.
It can only take something like a delay in arranging a second interview, or someone not being available to sign off an offer, for people to start thinking: “These guys don’t know what they’re doing. You’re wasting my time. I’ve got two other companies who are right on it.” We often need to have quite difficult conversations with clients to say they’re not helping themselves. How can you possibly hope to attract people who are in demand when you’re simply not at the races?
What’s the current landscape around hybrid and remote working?
Remote working is still particularly important, especially for development candidates. There’s been a bit of a push from employers to encourage staff back into the office, maybe just for two or three days a week, but it’s proving more challenging than some thought. People are not in a rush to get back to the office, particularly people who have young families and the rhythm of their life is now adjusted to working from home.
When you’re employing staff, you are of course entitled to say you want people in the office. We get it. But, at the same time, you’re not going to see a lot of people if you take that approach, and in a skills-short market you may find you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face. Remote working is incredibly important now, especially in the software development sector. People don’t want to go back to the office – they don’t have to and so aren’t going to.
When you think about the objections to remote working – the lack of team environment, difficulty in onboarding, struggles with getting people up to speed and so on – these things are all true. It is of course harder to manage people remotely. But it’s not as hard as not having any staff! This is the trade-off clients need to get their heads around, unless of course you’re going to throw vast amounts of money at it and then people will come. But with IT already being expensive, soaking up a lot of budget, employers may need to re-think their priorities.
How can your recruitment help you beat the economy?
The whole point of investing in technology and skilled staff in your business – aside from setting yourself up to deliver your products or services – is to make you more efficient, robust and better-prepared to compete within your market.
Those businesses that continue to invest in IT over the coming 12 months will not only be best-placed when the recession turns, but will also engender the feeling that they know what they’re doing, have a clear direction and are not going to let a few bumps in the road – or a recession – slow them down. Because, in the end, they know they need to be going out into the market with robust systems that deliver better for their clients and customers.
From the perspective of an IT candidate, this can be a good waymarker when they’re looking around for their next role. From a client perspective, if you know you’re going to be investing over the next 12 months, this is something you should be talking about and making people feel comfortable about, because you’ll be more attractive to people when we enter into the uncertain times on the way.
What are businesses afraid of right now?
If I was running an IT business, what would keep me up at night is the idea of competitors stealing my key members of staff. We all know we’re in a high-inflation environment. Every year people’s wages are effectively going backwards unless they are being raised by their employers. So that’s what clients should be afraid of.
The other thing people should be worried about is knowing they need to deliver on projects but not having secured the resource they need – both in terms of people and money to pay those people. There are no short-cuts or bargains to be had. If you’re going to do something, you need to be able to resource it properly. Having a solid resource plan in place, backed by the whole organisation, is an absolute must.
Are there any peculiarities in IT recruitment in the East Anglian region?
What we’ve noticed is that it can be as difficult to hire a first- or second-line support person as it can be to hire an experienced cloud architect, such is the demand across all sectors at the moment. This may come as a surprise to some people, but to us it’s become an everyday fact of life.
Client or candidate – Bristow Holland can help you
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