How to compete in a Candidate-driven Market — Part One

Part One: A New Species — Powerfulus Candidatae

Unlocking tech talent stories

February 19, 2016

This is part one of “How to compete in a Candidate-driven Market”. Click to read part two, three and four.
The dark times of the last financial crisis are slightly turning into a foggy memory and we’re heading towards the roaring twenties of the 21st century — or at least that’s how the horizon looks like when it comes to the tech world.

In 2020, just four years from now, there will be 900k unfilled tech vacancies in Europe. This huge number stresses the current trend the tech world is experiencing: tech talent demand continues to rise, while its supply isn’t increasing enough to keep up.

Mind the skills gap

The main explanation for this imbalance is the fact that there simply aren’t enough student enrolments in Computer Science and Engineering when applying to University to match these future 900,000 unfilled vacancies in Europe — even though they’re slowly increasing in recent years.

If we consider this figure and all the tech companies and startups mushrooming all over the place, creating 120,000 jobs a year and hungrily looking for professionals who meet their requirements, it discouragingly feels like people are wasting potential talent and promising futures.

This is a problem felt all over Europe. Even London, known as Europe’s tech hub, is affected by this talent shortage; businesses simply cannot find enough professionals for the vacancies that need to be filled — especially if they miss out on great non-EU candidates because they don’t want to face the bureaucracy of helping them get work visas. Naturally, when companies have trouble recruiting qualified tech teams, they’re forced to pay out high salaries when they do find talent.

Tech is the new black

The talent pipeline is on a dry note and governments are aware of it. European Commission estimates show that around 40% of people in the EU workforce do not have adequate digital skills. It’s especially concerning when we think of the Commission’s claims about how 90% of all jobs in the future will need some kind of digital skill.

Almost a year ago, in March 2015, Europe rallied together and signed the Riga Declaration, which sets out 10 principles to unlock the potential of e-skills to boost growth and job creation across the continent. Two of them include ensuring life-long education and training of e-skills.

However, it shouldn’t only be up to governments to invest in tech education; companies also need to step up and attract people to this industry. It’s up to everyone in the tech business to create opportunities and develop curiosity in the minds of potential students, making them want to start programming the world. Hell, even supermodels are encouraging young girls to code. The sooner companies do the same, the sooner they start to gain ground and become a qualified career choice in their eyes.

Initiatives like our own Festival and Scholarship; websites such as and startups like Academia de Código in Lisbon are great examples of how every strength to “make this business cool” — even new tech-themed TV series like “Silicon Valley” and “Mr. Robot” are a push in the right direction — is essential for that talent pipeline to start pouring at a rapid pace again.

The most efficient way of programming the world, however, is to do it from an early start. Two years ago, the UK introduced Computing at Schools, a new IT curriculum in primary schools that includes coding lessons for children as young as five. It was backed up by a £120k funding from Google and £334k from Microsoft to teach computing skills to primary school teachers in the hopes of creating the next Bill Gateses of the world.

Globalisation is also another big reason that explains this market. Its lasting establishment creates the right opportunities for companies to expand globally, making them crave for the necessary top talent to keep their businesses up and running. Remote working and nearshoring are quickly becoming a big trend in the tech world, a lot of it due to increased costs of living and, again, the pain of getting a work visa.

A new species is born

Finding top talent can thus get tricky. The more sought out a candidate is, the more negotiation power they have. The startup scene just made this more uneven, as top quality candidates leave the job market to create new ventures and start hiring themselves.

Now that tech professionals can have their cake and eat it too, it’s a headache for employers to please them with their offers, no matter how many cupcakes and brownies are stashed up in their office pantry (but that does help).

Lack of top candidates and globalisation are the reason behind the shift of power and why we now work in a Candidate-driven Market. No more wise-guy recruiters and no more bowing to the first offer that comes along. Job seekers have the power and the final word, which sometimes is interpreted as them having “an attitude”.

Employers complain about how long the recruitment process takes and how a mountain of unqualified candidates ends up on their desk and increases costs, but they have to understand that the best candidates are now acting differently. They present themselves with this so-called “attitude” because they have already realised the job market has shifted all its power in their favour, so they’ve allowed themselves to expect and demand a lot more.

This is a reflection of a new species of tech candidate, a new breed of coders and developers who are much savvier, more confident and proactive job seekers, who know their value and how they should be treated.

Fleeting talents

On top of it all, these candidates normally only stay at the same job for about 2 years, meaning it’s also much harder to manage and retain talent. When they do decide to seek a new opportunity, they want to have control over the process of recruitment because they know exactly what they want for their next assignment.

As such, the only thing companies must do — after realising and admitting they don’t really hold the upper hand anymore — is adapt their recruiting strategy to speed up the hiring process, and drastically improve the candidate experience so as to better fit their requirements. It’s all about them now, and if employers want top tech talent, they need to seek it, conquer it, and hire it.

It’s all plain and simple, just as your recruiting process should be. Click here to read Part Two of “How to compete in a Candidate-driven Market”, where we cover the first stage every recruiter goes through: attracting candidates. Most of the time known as the tricky part.


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