Recruiters and hiring managers know they face a recruiting challenge this year. With the tech industry’s unemployment rate at remarkable lows, qualified tech professionals have their pick of jobs—and no shortage of companies willing to pay for their talents. Successfully converting prospects into employees will require more than just a hefty salary and a few perks—recruiters will need to address some very real concerns that these professionals have about their industry. According to new survey data from DigitalOcean (PDF), some 63 percent of tech pros feel that automating workflows will present their biggest challenge over the next year. That beat out incorporating artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning (32 percent), eliminating dependencies (26 percent), working with distributed teams (24 percent), and other (2 percent). Those concerns about automation should come as no surprise, considering how many companies have deemed the adoption of such technologies a high priority in the years ahead. And yes, while some professionals are concerned that automating workflows will eventually put them out of a job, a recent report from McKinsey Global Institute suggested that many technology positions will actually remain untouched. “Workers of the future will spend more time on activities that machines are less capable of, such as managing people, applying expertise, and communicating with others,” mentioned that McKinsey report. “The skills and capabilities required will also shift, requiring more social and emotional skills and more advanced cognitive capabilities, such as logical reasoning and creativity.” Meanwhile, a separate study from Puppet positions automation as actually helping high-performing DevOps specialists perform their jobs more effectively. Puppet’s data found that automated tools had taken over roughly a third of testing, configuration management duties, deployments, and change approval processes. That’s a good thing for high-performing employees, who can give up the drudgery of routine tasks in favor of more creative and strategic pursuits. When attempting to recruit these workers, a discussion about the ways a company is automating its core processes, and how that can translate into promotions and intra-company prestige, could go a long way toward pulling them to your side. Fortunately for recruiters, many developers are also feeling a little antsy in their current positions, with 27 percent telling DigitalOcean they’ll look for a new job in 2018; another 27 percent are “considering” doing so. That contrasts with the 15 percent who say they’re definitely staying put for at least the next year, and the 31 percent who say a job switch is “not likely.” In any case, discussing prospective employees’ current challenges and fears—and explaining what a potential employer is doing in terms of automation, A.I., and other cutting-edge fields—can go a long way toward attracting the talent you need.
Nick Kolakowski has written for The Washington Post, Slashdot, eWeek, McSweeney's, Thrillist, WebMD, Trader Monthly, and other venues. He's also the author of "A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps" and "Maxine Unleashes Doomsday," a pair of noir thrillers.