Main image of article How to Hire Tech Talent Strategically in a Difficult Economic Environment

While many headlines paint a rosy picture about the relatively low unemployment rate, nearly everyone in tech knows someone affected by layoffs. It’s a confusing labor market out there, with widespread demand for tech specialists balanced out by continuing cutbacks at tech giants and other organizations.

Tech unemployment fell back to 1.8 percent this July, according to CompTIA’s analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The rate demonstrates a continued supply issue. And with new demand for expertise in A.I. and other emerging technologies added to the mix, tech professionals have many choices when it comes to their next employer.

Here’s how to determine which data is worth paying attention to and how to approach your tech hiring plan no matter the economy. 

The Data You Need to Make Good Tech Hiring Decisions

Consolidate, review and analyze data at your disposal 

While it’s easy to be distracted by headlines and national numbers, the most important data comes from inside your team. Sales, marketing, IT, customer service, and HR will all have the most critical forecasting and insights needed to make the right short- and long-term hiring decisions for your business specifically. 

Leverage the right external data

Equipping yourself with the right data is critical for facing the current tech hiring landscape — and future landscapes. Our most recent monthly tech hiring reports provided some surprising insights: While numbers are down in core industries, they’re in line with pre-pandemic numbers and seem to merely be coming “down” from the post-COVID hiring surge. 

Despite these numbers (and layoffs), 88 percent of HR decision-makers still believe hiring in 2023 will be as challenging or even more difficult than it was in 2022. While your organization may be hiring fewer candidates this year, competition for those candidates will be just as fierce as it was pre-pandemic. 

How to Map a Strategic Hiring Plan in Any Economy

With the right hiring data, it’s time to start mapping out your hiring plan for the rest of 2023 and beyond so you can uplevel your candidate experience and set your organization on steady ground. 

These two fundamentals are essential to building and executing a strategic hiring plan regardless of the economy: 

Start with the financial picture

Be attentive to your overarching budget and the budgets of each department that may need a tech hire. Work with hiring managers to determine if re-aligning your current full-time hires can cover need or if you need new hires (and whether hires should come on full-time or as contractors). 

Given how tenuous our economy is, you may only be able to firm up your numbers for the immediate quarter or two. So, stay nimble and evaluate your plan against your budget for the year regularly—perhaps on a quarterly basis. 

Review company progress and goals

Review your company’s goals for the next quarter(s) and next year. Take stock of your company’s progress so far this year, too. Assess what’s worked and what hasn’t. Go to every department and ask them which areas are lacking; by keeping goals your teams share at the fore, you’ll effectively outline to leadership how your hiring plan will help your organization hit metrics and exceed expectations. 

Next, identify core roles for the next quarter or two. Along with leveraging your internal data, stay posted on roles surging in your industry. For example, if you’re in financial services, it’s key to know that the industry is increasingly prizing back-end software engineers and DevOps engineers (if you’re not seeing this reflected in your internal data already), as our data found. By continually familiarizing yourself with core roles, you’ll determine which talent to look out for now and in the future—and if the roles need full-time hires or are better left to contractors. 

Regularly assess your top performers. Identify skills and performance gaps. Do their skills match industry changes? In the case of a manufacturing company, for example, you’d want to be sure that your top talent has mastered data analysis and automation, as our research shows these skills are growing in demand. With your particularly high performers, stay ahead of potential high-risk retention issues. Put another way, address the needs of employees who seem unhappy and may head elsewhere—or be poached by your competition. See if you have the existing resources (or perhaps even produce new resources) before deliberating on an outside hire. 

With so much on your plate, it’s imperative to have a well-staffed talent acquisition team. However, you might not be able to meet your headcount goals with your internal team’s capacity alone. If that’s the case, there are third-party options. You can hire a contract recruiter for a certain time or to fill a specified number of positions (and they typically bring along an existing pool of qualified candidates). Or you can turn to a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) provider that assumes responsibility for your organization’s end-to-end recruitment process, a provider that works with you on a short-term basis for an immediate project, or somewhere in between. 

Regardless of how you choose to execute it, by making the best possible use of your data and sticking to a well-thought-out hiring strategy, you can keep your organization ahead of whatever the economy throws at you next.