December 11, 2023

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Technology can't be beat

Why Mid-Career Changers are the Answer to Tech Talent Shortages

The Great Resignation isn’t over yet. Another four million workers left their jobs in October 2022 — not the best news for employers, but especially problematic for the tech sector. The demand for tech talent is picking up as an increasing number of businesses continue to launch digital transformation efforts in the pandemic’s wake. Nearly everything went virtual, and the transitions are here to stay.

Even as we move into a post-pandemic world, a sizable portion of the workforce has still not returned. At last count, roughly three million “workforce dropouts” say they have no plans of going back to pre-pandemic activities. Complicating matters further are the dwindling talent pools. In fact, both undergraduate and community college enrollment have declined, down 6.6% and 13%, respectively, since 2019.

Winning the Battle for Talent

With as many as 80% of tech workers considering a change in employment, the competition for talent is getting stronger by the day.

Tech companies must get creative with their sourcing efforts or risk an ever-widening skills gap — a skills gap not easily bridged without workers who bring agility, adaptability, and critical thinking to the mix, allowing them to work alongside emerging technology.

This means not only assessing for hard skills but also those of the softer variety. You want talent with a “growth mindset.” Openness and desire to learn are necessities these days and (some believe) essential components to creating a culture of inclusivity. So what do tech workers want in an employer today? They want to work on diverse and agile teams with flexibility for transformation in people and technology.

Setting Your Talent Sights Elsewhere

While it’s always important to bring young talent into an organization, focusing solely on only those people who are just starting their professional lives can be shortsighted, missing out on the benefit of transferable skills found in an experienced workforce.

Mid-career changers already come to the table with many hard and soft skills, most of which will be transferable across industries.

And thanks to the invaluable experience and unique perspective developed from previous jobs, they often excel and add unforeseen value to almost any team.

Besides, this particular talent pool is growing at an unprecedented rate. A recent ZipRecruiter survey found that 62% of job seekers want to change their job type or switch careers entirely. So it’s now a matter of turning your attention to attracting and recruiting these talented individuals, all ripe for the picking. With that in mind, these are some strategies you might employ to attract mid-career professionals who are looking to change their career paths:

1. Understand What Mid-Career Changers Prioritize at Work

The direction you take your recruiting efforts will depend largely on your organization, but the first step is often understanding how to attract mid-career changers. Fortunately, it’s not like tech companies can’t offer what job seekers want right now: higher salaries, upward mobility, stability, flexibility, and so on.

A recent report found that 30% of mid-career professionals had quit their jobs over the past year, and most of them attributed their resignations to poor company culture or frustration with their bosses.

For your organization, it might make sense to highlight your culture of openness, training and upskilling opportunities, supportive leadership, growth potential, and flexibility. Consider how to best position your employment opportunities to stand out and attract experienced workers looking for new challenges.

2. Decide How to Assess Who’s Ripe for Reskilling

The next task is developing an assessment process to identify which candidates are best equipped for skilling in a given role. In our experience, the most effective assessment process screens for soft skills such as passion, drive, and an aptitude to learn, rather than merely hard skills, not to mention harder-to-measure logic and reasoning skills.

Candidates who wholeheartedly want the job are often more willing to put in the work and effort to excel in a role. In addition, trainable candidates can develop hard skills when given the opportunity, which naturally leads us to the next step: onboarding.

3. Establish Training and Mentorship for Onboarding Career Changers

Not that you need to reinvent the wheel, but companies should create structure to onboard career changers and offer them support. A formal training program can certainly help. The same can be said for a mentorship program, too, which is often one of the most effective ways to learn how to do the job and the ins and outs of office life from a colleague.

At the same time, don’t neglect “horizontal” training opportunities such as retaining and sharing knowledge among peers.

It may be more challenging than simply pairing mentors and mentees. Still, it’s essential to create structures for both mentorship and knowledge-sharing in the organization so workers at all career stages can continuously learn from one another.

4. Consider Hiring in Cohorts

You may also find success when hiring multiple career changers in an apprenticeship or cohort-style structure. Bring new recruits who are in a similar position in their career change together because they can relate.

When they have automatic peers and confidants, so to speak, who are on the same journey, it becomes much easier for all the new employees to feel heard and supported.

That feeling of support is crucial to retaining new hires because it helps prevent them from feeling lost and adrift as they adjust, and it helps ensure greater success over time.

The next time you’re looking for talent, consider recruiting from a pool of mid-career changers. Then, your talent shortage woes may be shorter-lived, and you’ll be able to build a team ready for success.

Featured Image Credit: Annie Spratt; Unsplash; Thank you!

Claire Anderson

Senior Director of Company Relations at LaunchCode

Claire Anderson is a senior director of company relations at LaunchCode, currently working to match quality tech talent with applicable career paths in technology. Claire works to leverage her experience in higher education with a passion to create meaningful relationships in the workplace, while helping companies solve their biggest tech challenges. She presides over sales, recruitment, and marketing for entry-level technologists and drives the execution of business development activities to various technical professionals on a national level. Claire has a bachelors from Webster University and a master’s degree from Washington University, both in St. Louis.