As economies recuperate from the challenging year, the tech recruitment industry represents a US$10 billion growth opportunity in the APAC region that is slipping through the cracks. 

As 70% of the region’s population moves online, businesses are looking for the best tech talents to lead the digital transformation charge. There is a bigger demand for tech talent than ever before, which should be the silver lining for struggling economies. Instead, it has created an intensifying tech talent crunch that seems to be getting the better of the staffing market. 

The traditional recruitment industry has been slow to adapt to the skyrocketing demand for tech talent – 68% of tech hiring managers surveyed in Southeast Asia said it took over three months to fill an open tech position on their team. Recruiters can no longer rely on fresh graduates to fill in the gaping demand for tech talent, especially in tech hubs like Singapore. It is estimated that the infocomm sector will demand 60,000 professionals over the next three years, in contrast to the 2,800 infocomm graduates yearly.

Paul from GRIT shares his thoughts on the pitfall of recruitment in the tech industry

As 70% of tech hiring managers report a slowdown in the speed of their product development, it is clear that the domino effect of the talent shortage can rapidly spill over. This highlights an urgent need to address and solve the pitfalls of the traditional talent recruitment market from the root – through better recruitment practices and adoption of new technology. 

Battling talent poaching at the recruitment stage

Poaching talent has always been a common practice in the recruitment industry. However, with an expected regional talent deficit of 2 million technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) by 2030, talent poaching is becoming a threatening issue in the tech market. 

As the demand for tech employees continues to exceed supply, top workers become more coveted and prone to talent poaching. In an attempt to retain their skilled employees, many companies impose barriers to leaving with confusing contracts, which only perpetuates a toxic working environment that ironically, chases talent away. 

When employees are straddling multiple competing offers, companies have to do more to secure their top workers’ loyalty. This shift in paradigm has birthed key trends that exist in the tech industry today: competitive pay, strong workplace cultures and exclusive employee perks. 

Despite these preventive measures, the process of building loyalty begins at the very top of the hiring funnel: recruitment.

Refining recruitment dynamics by prioritising skilled candidates

It might seem obvious that skills should take precedence during the recruitment process, However, this does not appear to be the case. 

Many companies outsource recruitment to external agencies that are better equipped to handle human resources. Job seekers do not always have a clear overview of the positions they are most suitable for in an organisation, based on their skill sets. However, headhunters who are out of touch with the tech industry might not have a comprehensive understanding of the job scope either, leading to incorrect shortlisting decisions. This hiring process is not only extremely inefficient, but also paves the way for poor expectations management and ultimately, a high turnover rate.

Besides the inept matching of talent to jobs, a potential hire can be affected by candidate experience, which is out of employers’ hands when going through external agencies.  Deloitte found that 83% of job seekers have had a poor interview experience that caused them to change their minds about the role or company. In the current tech talent crunch, hiccups in the recruitment process can lead to significant losses, especially for top-tier roles.

In this day and age, human errors are completely preventable. Recruitment solutions firms like GRIT make use of innovative technologies to eliminate inefficiencies in the recruitment process. 

GRIT is a talent-first tech marketplace – job seekers are required to apply to the platform and verify their qualifications. Employers can then browse through a pool of curated tech talent. 

The platform also provides transparency on logistical details and talent demands such as skill set, salary expectations, active status, notice period and visa status, allowing employers to instantly filter out unsuitable candidates for a smoother hiring process.

Unlike conventional recruitment processes that require a time-consuming process of shortlisting from a large quantity of candidates, GRIT focuses on curating a pool of quality talent from the start to facilitate a smoother hiring process. 

The value of referrals in acquiring strong tech talents

With a limited tech talent pool, recruitment methods play an important role in acquiring and retaining strong tech talents. However, hiring practices in APAC have remained stagnant, even though traditional headhunting approaches such as job site postings, job fairs and social channel scouting are becoming increasingly benign. Moreover, these methods are not enough to attract strong prospects, who do not typically reach out to companies and recruiters. 

Referrals are a cost-efficient way for companies to tap into undiscovered talent. In a survey by CareerBuilder, referrals are rated by 88% of employees as the best recruitment source for quality hires. It is safe to say that referrals come from a place of genuine opinion, about both the candidate and company. This is more likely to translate to better results  –  82% of employees in the same survey rate referrals above all other sources for producing the highest ROI. Successful referrals are also found to speed up the hiring process by 55%, which will positively impact businesses that run on tight pipelines. 

Referral programmes like GRIT Scouts are gaining traction as a solution to the tech talent crunch. The platform is offering rewards for organisations to crowdsource referrals through the platform, in an initiative to collectively increase companies’ access to qualified tech professionals.

As rapid digitalisation clashes with travel restrictions, foreign talent can be hard to come by at the moment. Fueled by aggressive talent poaching, companies in APAC need to tend to their local talent shortage first. With emerging HRTech solutions that encourage efficiency and quality, it is up to companies to evolve their recruitment methods to prosper amidst the tech talent crunch. 

This article was contributed by Paul Endacott, CEO and founder of GRIT

About the author

Paul Endacott GRIT

Paul is a highly driven leader who has been operating in the fields of recruitment and executive search since 2002. With a proven track record within global multinationals and regional organisations, Paul has experience of turning around underperforming operations and scaling businesses from start up to over 150 employees. Paul’s last corporate role was Regional Managing Director, Asia, for an Australian Listed recruitment firm where he was responsible for the Asia strategy as well as leading Digital and Innovation.

Most recently, Paul has launched his own Venture/Angel backed company, GRIT, that specialises in Digital and Technology. This is a recruitment technology organisation that is driving a recruitment and executive search solutions platform to provide greater value and engagement with organisation and talent communities.

Paul is highly passionate about digital and technology and how it can be utilised to advance the recruitment and staffing industry.

Based in Singapore, Paul has extensive experience of the Asia markets as well as the UK.

In addition to the above, Paul is an Advisor at Antler, supporting their HRTech cohort globally and also a Mentor at Workplace Accelerator.