The New Zealand tech scene is going from strength to strength and has now turned into a global player worldwide. Companies such as Xero, Vend and Rocket Lab has firmly put the worlds focus on New Zealand's growing tech scene. This strong growth, along with a lack of investment in training local talent, has created a shortage of skilled workers to fill the tech jobs that are now available at New Zealand's most exciting companies. According to the Digital Skills Aotearoa report, in 2019, 4,462 new tech jobs were created, but there were only 1850 students who moved into degree-level courses in tech-related fields that same year.
With tech talent at an absolute premium in New Zealand, it has become more challenging for businesses to recruit people who have the right tech skills into their businesses, even more so now that the borders are closed due to Covid. We asked tech recruitment agency nDeva’s co-founder Aajay Cunningham, his thoughts on the tech skills shortage, and tips for companies recruiting quality candidates for their tech roles.
What are the current challenges you see in the tech recruitment space?
The biggest problem in the market right now is that every company is looking for tech talent, but there aren't enough good candidates to meet the demand. During COVID, we saw many companies put hiring on hold, and at the start of 2021, most companies are trying to make up for lost ground and have ramped up there hiring. This has resulted in most companies struggling to find the talent they need and has also meant that tech talent salaries have dramatically increased in the past 6 months. If companies don't start to be innovative in how they hire, they are really going to struggle to find the right people to push their company forward.
Have you seen tech candidates expectations of employers change over recent times?
100% - I think COVID has changed the way we work forever. Most obviously, WFH. Before COVID, we would have developers who would only work remote, and we really struggled to find the companies that would allow it. The norm is for most tech companies to be fully remote or, if not, to be working 3 or 4 days at home and only one day in the office. Companies who have insisted on people coming back into the office full time have really struggled to attract and get the best talent in the market. It is simply not attractive to potential employees anymore.
What are 4 things companies can do to give themselves the best chance of recruiting top tech talent?
Companies can do several important things to attract the best talent, but these are my top 4...
1. Offer Remote Working
Most tech talents expect and really like working from home, so if you don't offer this, you will miss out on a lot of good people. Also, if you can open your hiring pool to people across the whole of Australia/NZ rather than just the city that you are in, you will have access to a lot more top talent, which is crucial in this candidate short market.
2. Have a Good/Short Interview Process
The market is so competitive at the moment, and if you have a 5 stage interview process with long take-home code tests, you will find that by the time your candidate is halfway through your process, they have likely accepted a job at one of your competitors.
3. Have a Clear Mission and Goal for Your Company
People want to join great companies that are going somewhere and doing cool things. If you explain and have a clear vision, people will want to join and be part of that journey.
There is a slight miss conception from some companies who think that because they are doing cool things or that their company is 'good', people will take a pay cut to work with them. This is rarely the case. Many good companies offer great salaries, so if you don't offer at least market or above market rates, most people will join another company. For example, at nDeva we pay 20% above market rates to get the best talent because we want to attract the very best people out there.
The market is going crazy at the moment. I’m seeing developers being offered $30,000 more than their current employers are paying them. Others are being given $50,000 bonuses to stay put for another 12 months. And across the overall market, salaries have increased by at least $10,000 in the last year. If you’re an employer, it’s a good idea to check your employees’ salaries against current market rates, especially for the talent you can’t afford to lose.
Where to from here?
In this competitive environment, companies need to stand out from the crowd and clearly show candidates why they should work for them over someone else. What's the culture like? What are the companies values? Candidates want to know this information.
Companies also need to be prepared to pay attractive salaries; otherwise, they risk losing talent to competitors. Covid, for one, has changed the work environment and expectations for good. Remote work is here to stay and particularly more so in the tech space. The companies that adapt the best to these changes will ultimately be the ones who secure the best tech talents for their businesses.