5 of the biggest challenges of IT engineering recruitment

10 Minutes

It's no secret that IT engineering recruitment can be a tricky game. After all, there...

It's no secret that IT engineering recruitment can be a tricky game. After all, there's a reason why people like us exist in the first place, and the tech recruitment sector contributes so much money to the UK economy. This has been the case since the industry's inception, and while there have been peaks and troughs, the talent shortage looming over the industry and the highly competitive nature of the market means that only those prepared will survive in the future.

But why is that? Why exactly is IT engineering recruitment such a delicate game, and what steps can we put in place to help alleviate that? Our guide will delve into five of the biggest challenges of IT engineering recruitment, providing advice to businesses on how they can enhance their recruitment strategy.

In this guide, we will explore the following challenges of IT engineering recruitment:

  1. The talent shortage in IT engineering

  2. Recruitment for IT engineers is highly competitive 

  3. Limited internal IT engineering recruitment resources 

  4. Understand that IT engineers are unconventional

  5. Talent seeks a speedy IT engineering recruitment process 

1. The talent shortage in IT engineering

One of the biggest challenges of IT engineering recruitment is the skills gap and lack of talent within the industry. By 2026, there could be as many as 1.2 million engineering job vacancies. Additionally, by 2030, it’s forecasted that the global talent shortage within the software engineering space could reach over 85 million workers - a skills gap that could cost businesses over $8 trillion worldwide. 

With that said, nearly 40 million tech roles remain unfilled due to a talent shortage, which is also affecting the engineering space. Despite opportunities for the likes of software developers, testers and quality assurance professionals expected to increase by 22% between 2020 and 2030, 47% of respondents to a survey by Engineering and Technology (IET) agreed that there was a technical skills gap within their business. So, even though the jobs are out there, the talent doesn’t appear to be.

Souring the talent you need in a market where talent is scarce can often feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Thankfully, there’s a range of things you can do to broaden the horizons of your talent search, and we’ll get onto a few other approaches that go hand in hand with this section later in this guide. However, one notable tactic you can take is to focus on remote hiring.

IT engineers can do much of their role remotely, meaning the prospect of hiring talent from remote locations, be it from the other side of the country to the other side of the world, is a viable option. Remote hiring grants you access to a broader talent pool that you may not have considered or thought was out of your reach. For example, Eastern Europe is home to over 1 million engineers capable of doing the job you require from remote locations.  

Just some food for thought, even if you’re operating across the pond, there’s no reason why you can’t hire an IT engineer to support your business remotely from the North West of England. 

Yes, the market for talent is scarce, but don’t let that stop you from progressing in your niche. Take our case studies, for example. These are snippets of proof that, with a little help, you can empower your brand to rise above your competitors and find the talent you need to succeed.

2. Recruitment for IT engineers is highly competitive 

Next on our list of the biggest challenges of IT engineering recruitment is that, along with a shortage of talent within the engineering space, the competition when it comes to recruitment for IT engineers is fierce. 

Obviously, your business will be different to your competitors in some shape or form. However, what you and your competitors have in common is that you’re both gunning for the same top IT engineers. Even if you find a potential hire, they’ll likely also be getting offers from elsewhere. As you’re not the only show in town, you need to come up with a strategy for hiring IT engineers that sets you apart from your competitors.

Below are a bunch of things you can do to attract talent in a competitive market where talent is limited:

  • Develop a stellar employer brand: Create a strong employer brand that reflects your organisation's values, mission, and vision. Utilise social media and other channels to showcase your company's reputation and appeal to IT engineers.

  • Breathe new life into engineering your company culture: Foster a positive workplace culture emphasising collaboration, communication, and innovation. Consider factors such as work-life balance, employee autonomy, training opportunities, and career progression to attract IT engineering talent.

  • Write a savvy IT engineer job description: Craft a detailed job description highlighting the IT engineer role's specific requirements and benefits. Include information on things like: 

1) Qualifications you require

2) The location of the role or remote working opportunities

3) Salary

4) Workplace culture

5) Company benefits

  • Promote a competitive IT engineer salary: Clearly communicate competitive salary packages to attract top talent. Research industry benchmarks and consider additional compensation elements such as bonuses, commission, insurance, and other benefits.

  • Get your interviews spot-on: Conduct effective interviews by asking relevant questions and assessing technical skills and cultural fit. Use the interview stage to showcase your company's benefits and culture to potential hires.

  • Provide cutting-edge training: Offer advanced training opportunities to IT engineers, showcasing your commitment to their professional development. Highlight these training programmes in job descriptions and interviews to attract candidates.

  • Inspire IT engineers with career progression: Outline clear career paths and progression opportunities within your organisation. Tailor paths to individual goals, emphasising long-term opportunities and growth for your current and future IT engineering talent.

  • Give your IT engineering go-getters autonomy: Provide creative freedom and autonomy to IT engineers and allow them to innovate and problem-solve. Trust their expertise while maintaining regular communication and interest in their projects.

  • Flex your flexible working opportunities: Emphasise flexible working opportunities, including remote work and flexible hours, to appeal to a diverse range of IT engineers. Make sure to clearly communicate expectations and boundaries related to flexible working during the recruitment process.

  • Offer a new wave of challenges to top talent: Present exciting and challenging projects to attract top-tier IT engineers. Highlight the sense of purpose and meaning behind the work to motivate them and position your company as a hub for innovative projects in the industry.

To learn more about these tactics, check out our guide on 10 top tips on how to attract software engineers.

3. Limited internal IT engineering recruitment resources 

Another of the biggest challenges of IT engineering recruitment is that you may have limited resources when it comes to your internal hiring team. We see this all the time in engineering, especially in start-up companies with less budget dedicated to HR and talent acquisition. 

Through no fault of their own, these types of organisations often struggle to keep up with the competitive nature of IT engineering recruitment. With limited internal hiring resources, the recruitment process is usually slower than most, meaning businesses are typically beaten to the chase by companies with a more extensive hiring team. 

As our managing director, Grant Spencer says:

"For me personally, it's not that the industry is necessarily harder, but rather that it requires more thought than originally. The era of simply posting a job and seeing your inbox flooded by hundreds of talented devs is gone. People are pickier about their careers, and companies need to be aware of that. 

Though it’s always been a part of recruitment, the ones doing well are the people making note of the changes in the industry and adjusting accordingly. It's all about paying more attention to these things nowadays. Are my salaries in line with expectations? Do I have the resources to find the right person for the role? That’s what we’ve excelled in, and it's why we’re able to still deliver." - Grant Spencer, Managing Director, MRJ Recruitment

As they also don’t have the same number of eyes on the market as a larger hiring team does, for at least every one potential hire they source, the competitors would have likely sourced at least two, three or even more potential recruits.

Having limited internal hiring resources can significantly hinder your chances of finding the people you need to take your business to the next level. That’s why the best option that many companies turn to is to partner with an IT engineering recruitment agency and embedded talent solutions services

Here, the company can leave the bulk of the hiring efforts to the agency they’ve partnered with. Whilst the IT engineering recruitment firm goes off to source the required talent, the organisation can focus on what it does best - advancing its products and services. 

What’s more, IT engineering recruitment agencies can find the talent businesses need far quicker than the business could do themselves. Why? Well, recruitment firms are specialists in what they do - not only understanding the industry's intricacies but also knowing the most effective methods to attract the best talent on the market.

Here’s just a glimpse of what an IT engineering recruitment agency can do:

  • Scoping the market for top IT engineers
  • Writing effective job descriptions
  • Interviewing and screening candidates
  • Supporting contract negotiations
  • Candidates placement, onboarding and more

4. Understand that IT engineers are unconventional

Since we’ve touched on the fact IT engineering recruitment agencies can galvanise your brand, we also wanted to highlight that uniformity is no longer a thing in the engineering space. What do we mean by this? Well, whether it’s the geographical location an IT engineer works in, the qualifications and education an individual has, or the experience they’ve gained, there’s no one-size-fits-all regarding talent within the IT engineering space.

When it comes to recruitment for IT engineers, you must understand that the talent within this niche is unconventional. We’ve mentioned how the market is scarce and highly competitive, so to ensure you give yourself access to a broader talent pool, it makes sense to consider talent from diverse backgrounds.

From remote hiring, which we touched on earlier, to professionals with bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and coding certifications, apprentices, self-taught engineers and those with transitional skill sets, these individuals should all be in the mix of your recruitment strategy. 

We’re not saying to hire anyone and everyone out of desperation. Instead, we’re emphasising the importance of being open to considering IT engineers from diverse backgrounds and not dismissing them if you feel they lack the qualifications, education or experience. 

Now, we’re not saying all this so you can tick a box to show that you’re a diverse company. We’re saying to do this because it will broaden your talent pool, and broadening your talent pool by welcoming people from various backgrounds could bring some cutting-edge talent to your organisation that your competitors may have been unaware of. 

Regardless of their background, whether they’ve got a degree or are self-taught, be sure to test your candidates with real-life engineering scenarios to see how good they are. Ultimately, in an industry like IT engineering, you can’t just rely on a piece of paper with the word ‘CV’ attached to it; you must test the talent to see if the proof is in the pudding. 

5. Talent seeks a speedy IT engineering recruitment process 

Our final point regarding the biggest challenges of IT engineering recruitment is all about keeping up with the competitive speed of the recruitment process. These days, IT engineers don’t want to faff about waiting to hear from you on whether you’re going to give them an interview or the job itself. 

You best believe that the talent you’re pursuing, be it active or passive, will have other offers on the table, and you won’t think twice about going with one of your competitors if you’re too slow off the mark. 

Getting your end-to-end recruitment strategy right is one thing, but getting it to the point where it’s the fastest on the market is another. This challenge is especially true for companies with limited internal recruitment resources - something we touched on earlier.

For context, according to Indeed: 

  • 4% of candidates hear from employers after two weeks of applying
  • 37%  of candidates hear back within a week
  • Only 4% of candidates back hear within 24 hours

Speeding up your IT engineering recruitment process to appeal to more candidates and ensure they don’t get the time to pursue other opportunities could involve trial and error. Here are a few things you could do to speed up your hiring process:

  • Apart from sending them the obvious automated response of ‘thank you for sending your CV’, make sure to get back to applicants within a week of them sending their application - don’t leave candidates waiting.
  • Reduce the number of interviews you conduct - perhaps you currently conduct 2-3 interviews, then reduce this to 1-2 per candidate.
  • Be consistent with the length of your interview times, be it an hour or 30 minutes per interview.
  • Stick to a list of specific IT engineer-tailored interview questions, and don’t go off on tangents.
  • Give the candidates a week to do a task to prove if they are suitable for the role and provide feedback and a follow-up interview within a few days of receiving the task.
  • Provide constructive feedback to the candidate, whether successful or not, to leave them with a positive impression of your business. A positive impression may be all the difference in them choosing you over your competitors.
  • Make your final decision as soon as possible - between a day and a week is ideal.
  • Communicate your hiring process with the candidate beforehand, then perhaps have it on the application form so they know what to expect from the process.

Be careful not to compromise quality over speed and run the risk of missing crucial elements of the search that leave you with an employee you wish you’d never laid eyes on. Finding the balance between speed and effectiveness is key but takes time. Again, as mentioned, an IT engineering recruitment agency can also support this.

Check out our guide to learn how to streamline your IT engineering recruitment process.

Wrapping up the challenges of IT engineering recruitment    

Navigating the challenges of IT engineering recruitment requires a strategic and proactive approach. As we’ve discussed, the talent shortage in the industry is a formidable hurdle, the hiring landscape is highly competitive, many companies have limited hiring resources, talent within the space is unconventional, and all backgrounds should be considered whilst those within the space are always seeking employers who offer a speedy recruitment process. 

In essence, overcoming these challenges in IT engineering recruitment requires a holistic and adaptable approach, integrating various strategies to create a competitive edge and attract the right talent to drive your organisation forward. 

Throughout the piece, we’ve mentioned how these challenges can be supported and, in many cases, overcome by the support of an IT engineering recruitment agency. Funnily enough, we know a thing or two about recruitment for IT engineers, so scroll to find out how we can support you from a hiring perspective. 

Overcoming the biggest challenges of IT engineering recruitment doesn’t just come down to attracting talent and retaining your current employees. Learn more about this by checking out our guide on how to retain talent with a fierce IT employee retention strategy.

Ready to disrupt the tech industry? Join us today!

If you’re looking to power your brand with the support of the top IT engineering recruitment agencies out there, you’ve come to the right place. Our specialist consultants are here to help match you to the best IT engineers to take your business beyond what you thought was possible. As your go-to tech recruiter, we’ll work closely with you to overcome your recruitment challenges in this competitive landscape. 

Chat with one of our specialist consultants today and find out how our IT engineering recruitment services can shape the future of your brand.