Vadim Vladimirskiy is the CEO of Nerdio and empowers organizations to deploy, manage and optimize virtual desktops in Microsoft Azure.
Companies wanting to fill IT positions in 2023 will undoubtedly meet with a more skeptical pool of candidates, wondering whether they will be in another round of layoffs a year later. The reality is that IT jobs are still in demand, and taking a longer view beyond current economic uncertainties, IT as a career remains a viable one with many potential career paths as modern technologies continually unfold.
The next generation of IT professionals, the Gen-Z cohort (the oldest is 25 years old), is generally far different than the generation of Millennials (26 to 41 years old) moving to more mature levels of careers. In 2023, recruitment for IT professionals will need to inspire Gen-Zers who undoubtedly have questions about their career future, given the shaky geopolitical and business climates.
Inspiring them to pursue an IT career will take messages that respond to their unique generational consciousness. These messages will also need to be backed up with credible evidence that your C-suite and recruitment teams are committed to a corporate culture that embodies what they care about (i.e., a defined career path, ways to learn, opportunities to upskill, support with mental health issues, diversity and sustainability).
To tackle these challenges, you can look at two intertwined categories: inspirational communication and proving your company has the goods to be a credible, authentic employer.
Instilling Meaning In IT
Handshake, a company that surveys new graduates and students on their job-related sentiments, notes: “Gen-Zers are passionate about making a difference and want to work somewhere they feel has a broader mission and purpose that aligns with their own values. They don’t want to make money just to make money—they want to make an impact. And they won’t stay in a job that doesn’t satisfy them.”
The message here is that in order to inspire a recruit or retain a valuable employee, inspiration must be derived from meaning. Most Gen-Z employees will appreciate the time you take to tell an authentic story about where your product or technology fits into the bigger picture.
IT is the world’s innovation engine, enabling new healthcare models like telemedicine, supporting biotech research, improving sustainability and helping people improve themselves with tools to destress, connect and grow. Absent of any hype or grandiose statements, recruits are craving a clear picture of the impact your company hopes to make or is already making.
Prove That IT Is Still A Good Bet
Gen-Zers and younger millennials are generally plenty aware of the economics of day-to-day living, as many of them are feeling the effects of inflation on limited budgets, waiting for student loan deferments and wondering if any job will keep them ahead of other economic challenges.
This generation will also not accept career inertia as an option; the employer they choose must offer a clear path to promotion and greater learning opportunities. They want to own the projects they work on, and during this journey, they want mentorship and feedback to help them move forward in their careers.
Microsoft, for example, offers the Microsoft Aspire University Track—a two-year learning and development program for university graduates designed to help them accelerate career growth and discover new job opportunities. In addition to Aspire, it offers job rotation programs, tuition assistance, online and in-person technical and management classes and its own employee TechFest.
Given Gen-Z’s expectations, how can you inspire IT recruits to join your company? Some questions that IT executives, HR and the C-suite need to ask themselves are:
• Can we show numerical data that the specific type of technology we deliver is on a growth path in the marketplace and that job demand and promotions will be expanding in our company and the greater industry sector?
• Do we have any concrete examples of what a career path looks like in our organization as well as job advancements that have occurred?
• What is our upskill strategy? Do we offer paid learning courses online? Do we support external learning opportunities with financial aid?
Transparency is another key attribute that many recruits are seeking. Companies will need to be able to demonstrate they are delivering on pay equity, for example.
Lastly, while there is a course correction in hiring and layoffs currently in some major brand companies, the long-term tech hiring outlook is positive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: “Overall employment in computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 15% from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.” This growth is expected to result in nearly 700,000 new jobs over that span. It is a message to include in hiring conversations.
Make An Internal Commitment To Inspiration And Education
The next generation of recruits will be inspired to join your company when they see you share inspiration in supporting diversity and inclusive programs, when you can prove a real commitment to sustainability and when you show empathy to their needs for mentoring and career development.
In its Gen-Z analysis, Deloitte writes: “To attract Gen-Z, employers must be ready to adopt a speed of evolution that matches the external environment. That means developing robust training and leadership programs, with a real and tangible focus on diversity.”
Being open to potential non-tech applicants—at various ages—who show a passion for learning is another good strategy. These employees can start as IT tech support personnel and eventually move up the corporate ladder. Learning IT from the inside can provide greater empathy and insight into how people (tech and non-tech) use the technology. Non-tech people can also identify ways to improve technology, given their real-world experience.
Gen-Zers and younger millennials have many expectations that prospective employers must meet. Think of it not as more work for you to do but as a way to help your company successfully hire the best and the brightest of the next generation.