I’m still reeling from the recent HR TechWorld event in London. It was a big one for us — we finally launched DevScore and were delighted with the response we had. Admittedly, it’s been some time since I’ve worked in the HR sector (as a developer) but I’ve done the rounds on the technology scene for a good ten years or more. However, I was more than taken aback at how tech-savvy HR has become. To keep pace, companies of all shapes and sizes are really upping their game on the recruitment front: which is good news for companies like mine that focus on helping businesses meet oncoming challenges.
Here are some of the key things I learnt, from talking to prospective customers and other exhibitors, about what’s happening at the crossroads of HR and technology:
Smart devices mean demand for developers will increase exponentially
The emergence of the Internet of Things will add millions of new developer jobs to the market, and demand for coders will scale to previously unseen levels. As more and more devices and appliances incorporate embedded software, companies who’ve never employed software developers will quickly need to upskill their workforces.
We’re talking about big manufacturing companies here: the kind who make everything from vacuum cleaners to electrical screwdrivers. In order for these businesses to compete and stay relevant in the digital age, ultimately they now need people with a different set of smarts — those who know software as well as those who understand hardware.
We need to overcome bias in developer recruitment
Finding developers is one challenge. Finding the right developers with the skills needed to tackle the mission-critical tasks you have is quite another(!). The battle to recruit and retain developer talent is about to get harder. But there’s a lot of untapped potential out there: a wealth of coders who haven’t been able to break into IT development. We need ways to find great people and bring them into the fold.
Development is a field where anyone can play — there are no education, gender, racial, or religious boundaries. We need to be able to find those with the right skills, whoever they are, wherever they are. To do this, businesses need to objectively analyse developers’ skills, and make hiring decisions based on ability. Nothing else.
New sourcing tactics are needed to satisfy demand for developers
Encouraging more coders to participate professionally relies on HR (and IT) professionals changing their perceptions on ‘how a developer is supposed to act’ and instead focusing on ‘what a developer can do.’
For example, there are several initiatives in both the US and UK — like The Last Mile in the US and Code4000 here in the UK — that are teaching prison inmates to code. By giving them work experience (while incarcerated) the idea is that they’ll have the skills to take a junior developer position when they get out.
I personally got into web development with the help of a good friend after working as a chef, and I hope to pass that mentoring experience on to new developers. In fact we’re building a platform, DevForge, to do just that.
Retaining developers means helping them evolve
In an industry where the fight for talent is on, employers need to find more ways to retain their developers. But money and work-life balance aside, most developers see their careers as a work in progress, and a good proportion of them value learning and development opportunities.
A crucial part of this is giving them ‘hack-time’, allowing them 10-20% of their working week to work on their own projects or learn new skills. This could be hugely beneficial for employers; ensuring faster adoption of new technologies, satisfying the developers’ need to evolve, and ultimately could be key to retaining developer talent. That’s the endgame we’re striving towards at DevScore — we’re creating a symbiotic platform where employers can build a roadmap to help their business move forward, while growing developers’ skills.
IT departments need more HR input
There can be little doubt that developers are one of the trickiest resources to manage. Few companies have specific developer talent management capabilities, which means it’s easy to overlook an individual’s contribution to a project. That’s why IT departments need to play a more active role when recruiting and retaining developers.
By effectively mapping the skills and capabilities of their teams — including outsourced development teams — IT managers can help make better informed strategic decisions; like who should be promoted, who’s no longer needed, and who would be best suited to managing a project using a new technology.
It’s not just about satisfying demand; a developer’s skillset and aptitude have a direct impact on a business’ HR reputation. Getting the balance wrong could lead to high developer turnover, missed opportunities, and big financial and talent losses.