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Mar 17, 2021
The need for technical jobs, or those focused on programming, software development, and engineering, is growing . The demand for these roles was already rising, but the pandemic has accelerated the need for employees with technical skills. Remote work has presented companies with new challenges , including supporting e-commerce, developing collaboration tools, and improving cybersecurity infrastructure. And they're paying high salaries to workers who have the skills to solve these problems. For example, despite the past year's economic uncertainty, annual salaries for software engineers average $110,000 , according to an Indeed analysis. "Whatever we were supposed to experience in 2030, we're actually experiencing it in 2020 or 2021 across industries," said Vivek Ravisankar, the founder and CEO of the technical candidate assessment company HackerRank. Employers that want to recruit the best technical talent should be aware of the broader trends in recruiting : expansion of remote work, top talent's increasing interest in social impact, remote interviewing, and employers' increasing acceptance of candidates with nontraditional backgrounds. Here are some ways to navigate this evolving climate and hire the best tech talent in 2021. Recruit from new talent pools, domestic and international Sourcing talent from new markets can help employers as they rapidly develop their technical capabilities. Before the pandemic, most organizations preferred that employees work in the office. For tech companies, this meant an overreliance on the talent available in traditional markets such as San Francisco and New York City. In 2020, cities like Miami and Austin, Texas , became hot destinations for remote workers, many of them in tech. A recent report from the technical-hiring platforms Vettery and Hired found that 34% of postings for software-engineering jobs in Denver were for remote roles. San Diego, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Austin rounded out the top five North American options. This expansion could also be a boon for improving representative diversity within the workforce. "Any time you can expand the area in which you can pull in your talent from, you're just naturally going to get a greater diversity of your candidates," Dave Walters, the chief technology officer at Vettery and Hired, told Insider. Recruiters can also expect to be better able to attract and hire talent from outside the US. The Trump administration built a reputation for working to curb immigration. During the pandemic, Trump shut down the H-1B "skilled-worker" visa program and attempted to increase the requirements for foreign nationals to earn the visa that had become popular in the tech industry. As a result, US tech companies began expanding their presence in Canada so they could continue bringing in top international talent. Under Biden, employers can expect a more open policy, though most of the new administration's actions so far have been focused in other areas. US engineers and developers can expect the return of international talent to the competition for top opportunities at leading companies. The skills that matter the most Vettery's report also outlined which coding languages and engineering skills were in highest demand. Walters said there were not many surprises: Machine learning and data science remain hot, and cloud-development and virtual-reality chops are still highly valued. What did stand out was the increasing demand for experienced engineers and managers of engineers. "Companies are more and more realizing they really need to have a good supply of very senior engineers that can really be the mentor and help their more junior engineers grow," Walters said. While technical roles are often among the ones where "culture fit" and interpersonal skills tend to be lower on the list of priorities for evaluation during the hiring process, many believe this is changing in part because of the expansion of remote work. Ravisankar said there was a need for team members to be better at asynchronous communication, documentation of their processes, and working well with others. "I would argue that these soft skills become even more important in a remote world," Walters said. HackerRank has even made adjustments to its talent-evaluation software along these lines, such as interview scorecards that include communication ability and other soft skills. "This might be a small change, but it's actually stirring up good discussions during the debrief on that particular aspect," Ravisankar said. Competition is heating up Demand was already outpacing supply for technical roles , and the pandemic has only increased the need. While some employers may be able to fill the gaps, thanks to the broader talent markets available to them, others will need to learn how to adapt to a more competitive environment. "We see that candidates are increasingly interested in new challenges," Walters said. "It becomes important for companies that are trying to attract that key talent to really show and demonstrate that they can give those opportunities to candidates." Unlike the rest of the job market, power lies quite heavily with the applicants, as they have no shortage of opportunities available to them. "They are really interviewing the company and feeling out what their culture is, what their attitude is towards their engineers, towards their team, and how supportive are they of their engineering culture, their engineering team," Walters said. He added that compensation, benefits, and working environment also played a role. While the competition is getting stronger, both Walters and Ravisankar said there would be an increase in the number of engineers and developers to meet the growing demand. Ravisankar added that a majority of engineers were self-taught. Coding boot camps, federal and corporate training programs, and self-directed online courses are helping fill the gap as well. Was this article valuable for you?