Targeting Talent: A Sanity Check for Your Tech Initiative


Embarking on a technology initiative is exciting. You have the plan and the approvals, and your company may assume it has access to contractors with the skills to bring a project to life. After all, you’ve hired many of the same types of roles in the recent past — programmers, engineers, project managers.

Then, after several weeks you find that the budget has to change. Deadlines get pushed. Plans are adjusted or put on hold. Somehow, the organization has trouble securing people to drive the project because the market for workers has changed. In short, the way you reached talent with your targeted skillset in the past no longer works today.

Sounds familiar? You are not alone. A National Association of Business Economics survey found that 47% of respondents experienced a skills shortage in Q3, 2021. As a result, you are likely competing for a limited talent supply against other suitors who may have more compelling assignments and offers.

Fortunately, surprise talent-driven project challenges are avoidable. The solution is fundamental: Be detailed about your needs and expectations, and question your assumptions about talent at the outset of planning.

Ask Questions to Reduce Talent Risks

Yes, you face an enormously complex market for workers and evolving demands for skills, but you can re-look at your talent needs quickly without re-inventing the whole process. Consider three areas for a sanity check—simple questions that may reveal pitfalls that you can avoid with some informed adjustments.

  1. Are you targeting your efforts realistically, or should you adjust your requirements?

There are more job vacancies today than people to fill them. That means workers have choices, and too many job requirements can push you out of the running as a choice for those with the skills you need. So look at your requirements and prioritize those that genuinely connect to performance and outcomes.

Question your demands for years of experience, onsite presence and education levels. These may be important, but they are also frequently the stumbling blocks that prevent otherwise qualified workers from applying for the job or assignment.

  1. Will the people you target deliver what you need to achieve?

Hand in hand with your requirements are the goals you have for the job. Do you know how the worker in the role you defined will help you reach those specific results, and can you identify less relevant responsibilities that may distract them from their primary purpose?

The solution may be to reconsider the kinds of functions connected to a job. For example, if you defined an assignment that requires extensive management abilities and technical skills, would it be better to break those responsibilities among different contractors or employees? If so, you may be able to address the need without depending on rare or expensive workers with hybrid skillsets.

  1. Is your pay rate in line with the market?

It’s tempting to use your past hire to guide how much you pay your next worker, but markets change rapidly. Even if it suspects that the rate it offers is too low, an organization may insist on sticking with a figure and see what it can find in the market. This approach can be costly. Yes, the organization may find a worker, but it may take a long time, the quality of talent may not be up to speed, and worse yet, the worker may quit for a better offer after you spend time bringing them into the role.

To set your rates to deliver the right talent, build your offering based on a detailed, data-driven view of what your market is commanding. An expert partner that knows the talent supply will have current data to inform your decision. For example, they may warn you you’re going to achieve diminishing returns by overpaying in places where the quality workers are not available to justify the cost. Likewise, they can tell you if you’re going to risk delays by going too far below market averages.

Get an Objective View

A great recruiting or staffing partner not only knows the actual availability of the skills you seek but should also understand how your expectations for the role or assignment will match your goals. A TotalTek expert can apply deep knowledge in these areas to help you arrive at a clear and objective plan that avoids the pitfalls of out-of-date strategies and assumptions. In the face of a dramatically shifting workforce supply, that’s a sanity check every technology stakeholder can use.