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Technical Recruitment Survey Report 2024

As today’s tech-based industries expand and develop at a rapid pace, recruiting the best technical talent – and retaining them – is a critical element in a business’s continued success. Technical recruitment is proving a challenge for enterprises of all sizes however, despite the large pool of potential candidates available. Here are some common anxieties that might look familiar:

  • How can you know that a candidate possesses the necessary skills at the required proficiency?
  • Is your applicant what they seem? Will they overperform in their interview but underperform in the role itself?
  • Will your new hire hit the ground running or need extra training?

Businesses quite rightly want their teams to be as agile and effective as possible, and the recruitment stage is their best chance to make that a reality. So, where are businesses going wrong and what positive changes can be made?

To learn more, we commissioned Research Without Borders (RWB) to carry out a wide-ranging online survey. Over 500 people responsible for technical hires in companies with 10 or more employees to gauge some key pain points – and, more importantly, determine some ways to overcome them – that businesses experience during technical hiring.

In this post we will break down some of the key findings from the survey and examine some of the pitfalls that businesses often fall into during recruitment, and how those businesses can successfully pivot their approach and acquire employees that aligns with their goals.

By confronting these challenges directly and proactively, businesses will discover that, with the right approach, they can streamline their existing processes and attract top talent who will excel in their role from day one.

Are Technical Hires Providing the Expected Value?

In short: no. Our research found that a significant number of candidates are not delivering the value expected from them after being hired. In some instances, they do improve, but only after further investment and training… which can take weeks or months.

This is far from a marginal problem. Our survey found that 45% of candidates – nearly half of all hired applicants – perform well at interview but underperform in their role.

Where is recruitment going so wrong? For businesses that use external agencies, this issue can often occur because those agencies fail to discern which candidates will be the best fit for a role. In fact, nearly 1 in 3 businesses say that their recruitment agencies have loaded them with irrelevant candidates.

Complicating the matter, many candidates are now entering the technical screening interview stage with unrealistic and unaffordable expectations – and when this is the case, the recruitment agency should ideally address this themselves before making a referral that will ultimately be unsatisfactory for prospective employee and employer alike.

All these false starts during hiring have a knock-on effect elsewhere in the business ranging in severity, from paralyzing bottlenecks to temporary delays. However minor or major, any inefficiencies in your hiring process ultimately impacts your bottom line.

65% of businesses say they have had to delay at least one project because they don’t have the right technical team in place. This can pose grave financial repercussions in the long-term. Project delays are a serious matter and can result in loss of business to competitors.

As a business loses their foothold in the market, they in turn become less attractive to potential new talent, weakening their standing even further. It’s a deadly cycle. Onboarding the wrong person can inadvertently cause a chain reaction that sets disaster in motion, whether through extra costs or failure of delivery and loss of further business.

The Price You Pay by Hiring the Wrong Candidate

If 45% of new hires lack the expected skills, how many might we expect to meet or exceed expectations from their first day? Don’t be fooled. The answer isn’t 55%. That’s because that 55% includes a great many hires who do possess the right skills but still require further investment and training.

Brace yourself. Our research found that only 7% of new technical hires hit the ground running in their new role from their very first week.

At face value, some of these statistics spell grim news for technical hiring. However, the data bears positive information too.

Application numbers are high and healthy, particularly for startups who see an average of 17.7 submissions per role. The issue doesn’t seem to be that there are few qualified candidates but that those qualified candidates are not being directed to the correct employer.

Consider the following statistics:

  1. 1 in 4 new hires don’t possess the right skills.
  2. 1 in 4 new hires that are skilled still require more training.
  3. 39% of candidates that are perfect for the role ultimately move on.

Our initial reaction to the first two statistics might be to conclude that the hiring pool for technical staff is limited at the moment. The third statistic contradicts this, however. Perfect candidates are out there… they’re just not signing the contract.

Where does this discrepancy come from if there’s no shortage of candidates? Why are we hiring candidates that can’t perform and losing ones that can? We need to look closer at how technical recruitment is performed and find the flaws.

In short, we need to look closer at the interview process.

Building a More Effective Recruitment Process

Current interview processes are falling far below standard. Applicants are being guided towards roles for which they lack the necessary expertise. Furthermore, businesses are not effectively tech screening candidates and thus filling positions with people who are not suited for them.

In short, the dominant recruitment process is harming businesses by delaying projects, creating uncertainty both internally and in being able to deliver for customers, and requiring further investment to get new hires up to standard.

Nobody benefits from this scenario, except perhaps for recruitment agencies that seek hefty compensation even when they fail to follow due diligence and offer the value they should.

Looking closer at that initial recruitment stage, our survey reveals that 63% of businesses rely on non-technical specialists whether recruiting directly or through an agency. 37% of businesses do make use of a recruiter with technical relevance – a step in the right direction. However, that’s nearly two-thirds of businesses who are rightly seeking the best and brightest… but trusting people to choose new team members who lack the technical knowledge to accurately do so.

To ensure the right talent is being brought onboard and to avoid being saddled with irrelevant candidates while wasting time and money, businesses need to evaluate their recruitment strategies and prioritize technical expertise in the interview process to drive organizational success.

Most Businesses Don’t Tailor Their Recruitment

Every role has its own requirements, with a certain baseline of skills and experience expected from a candidate if they are to be considered. Determining whether a candidate actually meets that baseline is where difficulties can arise.

Technical roles are usually extremely specific in terms of the skillsets and aptitudes that they require. As such, a “one-size-fits-all” recruitment process will always fall short.

Despite this, 34% of businesses do not have a separate recruitment process in place for their technical hires, handling applicants the same way that they might for any other role.

Startups buck the trend here, with 77% having a separate recruitment process in place. Public sector and large enterprises trail behind. Only 60% and 59% of businesses in those respective arenas tailor their recruitment process.

Why is most recruitment not more targeted?

Whether hiring directly (as nearly half of businesses do) or through an agency, why are relatively few recruitment teams personalizing their processes to secure the best possible applicants?

As we’ve seen, whether businesses invest a great deal of time and effort into recruitment or not, they often end up with an unsatisfactory outcome. If a recruitment process isn’t built to accurately measure a candidate’s ability to meet the job spec, then the resulting hire will likely fall short.

The first step towards successfully filling a vacancy is determining what skillset your ideal candidate will possess and then ensuring your recruitment process is built to test for that skillset.

Don’t Rush!

As we will see later, our survey respondents say they are dedicating a lot of time towards the recruitment process in full. However, the interview stage (in which a business and candidate can directly interact) often forms a proportionally low part of that entire process.

For example, a quarter of businesses (26%) spend no more than two hours with a candidate during the full course of recruitment. The technical interviews themselves? A similar number. Only 12% of survey respondents reported that their average interview takes longer than two hours.

At face value, these figures suggest recruitment is generally rushed and the obvious solution, it could be said, is to slow down. However, businesses are spending a great deal of time and energy on technical interviews cumulatively. 80% of survey respondents process multiple applications for each vacancy (some as many as 40 or more). In fact, of those respondents, more than half spend three to six hours per tech candidate. 16% take even longer – up to three full days!

Whether they’re speaking with the “right” or “wrong” candidate, the time invested in all these applications quickly adds up – and all of this is supposing that the final hire will be the right person for the job, which is certainly not guaranteed. The result is that businesses are often rushing their one chance to definitively establish whether a potential hire will make a good employee.

To lower the burden on themselves, many enterprises understandably enlist the technical recruiting services of a third-party Technical Interview Service to assess tech-qualified candidates on their behalf, safe in the knowledge that any applicants that reach the final stage will more than meet the job specification.

Testing Is Vital

One of the main difficulties of recruitment is gauging who among a group of qualified candidates is the most qualified and skilled. To some extent, this will become apparent from their job history and interview, but conducting tests during recruitment helps identify those candidates most likely to excel (and those least likely to require extra training).

Despite this, a majority of businesses are missing out on the advantages that testing brings when making technical hires. 74% of survey respondents do not conduct competency testing, and only 32% conduct live coding technical skills assessments.

Instead, many companies place a great deal of weight on the interview itself. 68% rely on someone in a technical capacity to question the candidate and decide on their aptitude and skills for the role.

While interviews are an asset during the hiring process, are they enough by themselves? Interestingly, nearly a third (29%) of respondents rely on an interview conducted by a hiring manager or c-suite member without technical experience. This means possibly onboarding a new member of staff while never once actively testing them during the recruitment process.

To put it bluntly: if a candidate is never tested, and their interviewer doesn’t have technical knowledge related to the vacancy, how is it possible to know if an applicant can fulfil their job description?

Testing and technical assessments require some extra time (many businesses choose to outsource recruitment testing for this reason) but it’s your company’s perfect opportunity to ensure you recruit the best and brightest candidate available. Make sure you take full advantage of that opportunity.

interview steps for technical hires

The Speed of Business vs the Slow Pace of Hiring

We’ve previously looked at how much time our survey respondents spend per candidate, but what of the full recruitment process from start to finish? Our data shows that this usually proceeds at an agonizingly slow pace. If we measure from the point that the vacancy goes live through to the new employee’s start date, the timeframe can add up to several weeks, if not longer.

In the fact pace of today’s dynamic marketplace and the rapid speed at which businesses are expected to evolve and innovate, the recruitment process can feel agonizingly slow. For example, 59% of businesses report that it takes at least a month to source and sign up any new hires and nearly one-fifth of technical hires can take up to six months before they finally join.

As one might expect, the larger the enterprise, the longer it usually takes to fill technical roles. 42% of smaller-scale businesses (between 10-49 employees) take between two to four weeks when filling a vacancy. Only 29% of larger businesses (1000 or more employees) can achieve the same in that timescale.

Our survey revealed that approximately 40% of applicants are put through to the next stage during the hiring process. Proportionally, this is quite a high number and perhaps suggests that technical screening methods are not filtering rigorously enough. The more candidates that go through at that first stage, the more need to be processed at the second stage (and beyond) which slows down recruitment even further.

In an ideal world, businesses would be able to take their time in selecting their perfect hire. In reality, a prolonged recruitment process can hinder progress and even result in project delays.

However, there’s a path forward. By leveraging testing, targeted evaluation of candidate profiles, and potentially entering smart partnerships with recruitment specialists who understand what to look for in a technical hire, businesses can remain dynamic and steer clear of the draining and overlong recruitment process that too many companies believe is inevitable, rather than avoidable.

Your Ideal Hire Is Out There. You Just Need to Find Them.

For many businesses, recruitment feels like a painful necessity rather than an opportunity.

This mindset is completely understandable, as the process requires investment in time and resources that, as the statistics bear out, might not even result in a candidate who’s able to perform the job effectively without further training and oversight.

Remember these statistics:

  • 73% of surveyed businesses reported needing to delay a project at least once because they didn’t have the technical skills on hand when they needed them.
  • 1 in 4 candidates are being hired even if they are unable to demonstrate the right skills.
  • Only 7% of candidates perform perfectly from their first day, with 45% requiring extra training.

These figures might represent how many businesses experience recruitment, but it doesn’t have to be the norm. Investing time and resources up-front will add value in the long-term, ensuring high-quality candidates that are qualified, experienced, and capable of hitting the ground running from day one.

Consider your business and ask yourself three questions:

  1. Are you attracting the right people with the right technical skills?
  2. Do you have the capacity and resources to adequately test applicants on those skills?
  3. Is your recruitment process dynamic and contributing to the growth of your business, or is it causing inefficiencies, delays, and stress?

No company should accept the myth that technical recruitment needs to be long, difficult, and unreliable.

By establishing a thorough and powerful recruitment process – or partnering with an agency who specializes in technical interview as a service – you can be confident that you’ll always hire the most qualified person for the role.

Expect better from your technical recruitment. Put the right process in place and your business will discover that finding an exceptional new team member can be straightforward and stress-free.

At Mobilunity, we’ve helped many international clients source technical and IT talent who are seasoned, ambitious, and able to offer outstanding value when they join. We know better technical screening services is possible. If you need any help, just get in touch.

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