Adapting hiring practices to attract entry-level tech talent

Photo by Andrew Neel

Data from Generation reveals that organizations must radically rethink hiring practices for entry-level tech talent – and lays out first steps to take.

A number of companies have already broken the mold and removed degree or work requirements over the past three years, and they are reaping the benefits.

Nearly 60% of organizations that eliminated these requirements saw an increase in the number of applicants, allowing them to hire more people more quickly, and tapping into new candidate pools that can fuel talent diversity.

Better still, they saw little trade-off in terms of performance once candidates were in the job—with 84% of companies saying that people they hired without degree or education requirements performed the same or better than people hired using traditional methods.

These findings come from Launching a Tech Hiring Revolution, a study of thousands of employers, entry-level tech employees, and jobseekers, spanning eight countries: Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Mexico, the UK, and the US.

The research was supported by The Hg Foundation as well as Bank of America, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, and MetLife Foundation.

Globally, 86% of surveyed employers say they are hiring for entry-level tech roles. Organizations across various sectors, including banking, manufacturing, and retail, all have tech needs, forcing them to compete for talent. And they are struggling, with 62% of employers saying that entry-level tech recruitment processes need to change.

True entry-level tech jobs have disappeared, with 94% of employers saying their hiring requirements for “entry-level” tech roles include prior work experience in a related field.

But despite the continued rhetoric around skills-based hiring, nearly two-thirds of employers globally (61%) added education or work requirements over the past three years for entry-level tech roles. And not just technical skills, as 40% increased behavioral skill requirements as well.

As those employers that defied that trend have shown, shifting hiring to focus on skills rather than degrees is a way to access new talent pools.

Focusing on skills-based techniques was a key part of employer success for the group that removed requirements, with tech industry certifications playing an important role. However, while certifications served as a hiring process equalizer across ethnicities, gender bias persisted.

Men without certifications received more job offers per interview than women with certifications.

Even though employers are strongly motivated to expand entry-level tech pipelines, those that are struggling to change cite tight budgets and a lack of executive support as tough obstacles. The report concludes there are four ingredients to unlocking the needed shift, including:

  • Expand applicant pools by removing work experience and degree requirements, and instead prioritizing certifications and other skills indicators.
  • During the hiring process, use technical assessments to ensure that applicants have the necessary skills for the job.
  • Throughout, pay attention to both behavioral and technical skills.
  • Rethink hiring teams to reduce tacit bias and increase talent diversity.