September 26, 2023

Jon Flaherty, CEO – Americas, Revolent Group.

Talent poaching by competitors has unfortunately become the norm in tech. But there are other ways to access the talent you need to scale without the risk of losing it—as long as you’re willing to look beyond traditional recruiting methods and try new approaches.

The current state of the cloud skills gap

The pace of digital transformation has accelerated at a record pace since the start of the pandemic. As the world went into lockdown, the need for digital and cloud-based solutions grew exponentially, creating new roles and skill sets along the way. As more and more companies migrate to cloud-based solutions, cloud market spending is expected to reach close to massive $800 billion by 2028. The world’s leading CRM, Salesforce, for example, is about to build 9.3 million new jobs by 2026 all over the planet.

With the cloud offering so many benefits to businesses, including reduced IT costs, better scalability and greater business continuity, it’s no wonder so many companies are choosing to switch to cloud-based solutions. But the right technology is only part of the solution. You also need people who can use this technology. With all the leading cloud vendors, including AWS, Microsoft, and Salesforce, facing significant skills shortages, current methods to “win the talent war” simply aren’t working. In short, we need new approaches.

In fact, this was outlined by Gartner several years ago when the leading technology research and advisory firm released its 2018 report Competing for Digital Talent: Tactics for Unveiling Unobvious Talent (registration required).

“Traditional approaches to recruiting are costly and ineffective in attracting key IT talent to support digital transformation,” Gartner concluded in its report. “New approaches are necessary to offset current talent shortages and ultimately accelerate the execution of enterprise digital transformation goals.”

Despite the fact that this and similar pieces of research have been around for several years, I still see companies – from startups to SMEs to global corporations – using outdated methods to attract and retain cloud professionals.

Winning the “war for talent” means stepping away from it altogether and focusing on fresh, innovative approaches. Here are some of them.

1. Offer to pay for your employees’ cloud certifications.

You may think you are losing the “war for talent” because other companies are offering better salaries to candidates. But money isn’t everything. There are many tech professionals out there looking to develop cloud skills. So instead of focusing on recruiting new talent, why not offer to pay for your employees’ training and cloud certifications?

For example, among over 2,000 Salesforce professionals recently research by Mason Frank (registration and download required), one-third admitted to paying for their own Salesforce certification. Having clear and transparent career paths, offering paid time for training and funding cloud certifications could help you build the team of experts you need within the company, while significantly increasing retention rates. That way, you’re not competing for the same talent as everyone else—you’re investing in the talent you already have. And if that seems like an expensive option, consider that replacing just one employee can cost half to twice their annual salary.

2. Offer more remote work opportunities to widen the net.

If ED&I isn’t at the top of your priority list, it’s time to change that. Even the best technology is at risk of being outdated overnight, so it’s important to constantly innovate and look for new solutions. Having a diverse workforce means you can get all those new ideas and perspectives you need to stay ahead of the competition—all within your own team. And when it comes to cloud talent, it’s always best to cast your net as wide as possible.

One way to do this is by offering more remote work opportunities, which would encourage talent based outside the main tech hot spots (with the most intense competition for talent) to apply. Plus, by offering flexibility, you can better retain that talent, as 9 out of 10 employees expect at least some level of flexibility from their employer, according to EY, and retaining talent is always more cost-effective than replacing it. Remember, however, that one size will never fit all, so ask your employees what flexibility they want from their role and build an inclusive work culture they want to stay a part of long-term.

3. Work with talent development programs.

Partnering with talent generation programs can help you bypass the poaching issue altogether, give you access to new talent pools, and help you create a sustainable, scalable recruiting solution.

For example, there are cloud talent programs that focus on cross-training experienced technology professionals in high-demand cloud technologies such as AWS, Microsoft, and Salesforce. These professionals aren’t fresh graduates—they’re people with years of industry experience who know the amazing opportunities the cloud offers and want to take their careers to the next level through cross-training. Programs like these ensure you don’t have to spend a lot on recruiting or upskilling while securing the talent you need to scale with speed.

As digital transformation continues to accelerate and the “war for talent” continues, remember that there are ways you can get ahead of your competition if you’re willing to try something different.

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