2020 was a special, unpredictable and eventful year in almost every respect and the social standstill caused by Covid continues into 2021. As headhunters in ICT and Digital we have a front row seat when it comes to detecting shifts and trends because we are in daily contact with both businesses and IT specialists.
Amon’s managing director Christophe VanDriessche and his partner Steven De Poortere share the most eye-catching trends in IT recruitment.
Trend 1 – Investments in IT reflect future vision
“A brief surge of panic jolted the business world in the first quarter of 2020. All of a sudden businesses suspended their recruitment efforts. But as of April the demand for operational IT staff (developers, analysts, architects, …) has only grown”, says Christophe VanDriessche. “And demand for IT management profiles and executives has never been higher.”
“No surprise there”, Steven De Poortere chimes in. “Banks, car manufacturers, retailers and even care institutions are progressively turning into ‘IT businesses’. And consequently demand for specialists is on the rise. In 2020 digitalisation progressed at an unprecedented rate. And I read in an article in Datanews (in Dutch) that investments in IT are projected to grow by another 6% in 2021. Corporate investments in IT are based on growth expectations. This means their IT investments are indicative of their future vision.”
“Keep in mind that we’ve been going through a fast digital (r)evolution for two decades now”, Christophe emphasises. “The pandemic has only underscored the importance of IT because what would homework have been like without super fast networks, cloud services and SaaS platforms?”
In many businesses the IT department has become the spearhead of the organisation. Today the processing and interpretation of data has become crucial in order to stay competitive.
Christophe VanDriessche, managing director Amon
Trend 2 – IT teams build bridges
“Every ambitious business today is IT-driven“, says Steven De Poortere. “Traditional IT support services have had their time and the expectations of IT specialists in terms of competencies have been rising year after year. Conversely, as they are so sought-after, IT staff have also become very demanding.”
If they are going to work for an organisation, IT staff must be able to subscribe to its raison d’être. If the vision and strategy are not clear, or if they turn out to be hollow phrases, they just pick up and leave.
Steven De Poortere, managing partner Amon
“Companies must build and strengthen their teams in a targeted way”, Christophe continues. “IT leaders and staff act as a bridge towards the business departments so commit fully to talent development. But don’t be afraid to carry out targeted replacements and expansions if this benefits the team. Inspiring leadership in your IT teams is a key factor in this regard.”
“For many businesses, their chances of survival depend on the performance of their IT teams. There are no two ways about it: HR and IT must work together more closely. If not, it’s all a waste of time and effort and the cost of constantly having to recruit new people may run into the millions”, Christophe predicts.
Trend 3 – Expectations of IT staff keep rising
Did the Covid-19 pandemic impact the expectations of IT specialists?
“The job content is still the deciding factor, but there are so many interesting jobs on offer that job content alone is not enough to convince new staff. The salary package, a host of fringe benefits, interesting solutions to raise net salary such as the IP ruling (whereby part of your salary comes from copyright – Intellectual Property, which is taxed much more favourably). But these expectations existed before 2020 as well”, says Christophe.
“There is also the fact that staff have now had a solid taste of the freedom of working from home. This is a door that cannot be closed again. You should also start elaborating a tangible growth path and a transparent team vision. Place maximum focus on a strong internal employer brand – and deliver on that promise. Pay attention to soft HR elements such as supporting a good work-life balance, enough leave days, individual coaching and creative team contacts. That’s a host of investments but they still pay off because good IT staff are worth their weight in gold!”
Steven De Poortere briefly returns to the relevance of job content and context: “People have had a lot of time to ask themselves: What am I really doing this for? What is it that truly matters to me? What will give me the most satisfaction in the long term? In other words, as an employer it’s a question of striking a healthy balance between, on the one hand, building your teams and business culture – in which commitment and presence are key – and on the other hand offering staff enough flexibility and opportunities to work from home so they can divide their time as they see fit.”
In closing we’d like to touch upon another trend that is not unimportant when headhunting IT managers: more and more often they expect a seat at the executive table. In light of the importance of IT to the organisation as a whole this evolution is hardly surprising.
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