3 things employers get wrong in the battle for IT talent

Gartner estimates that companies take a $12 million productivity hit every year due to hiring challenges.

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In 2018, 49% of the S&P 100 job postings were for 39 roles. More than 25% of those jobs were in IT: Systems analysts, web developers, software developers, security analysts, systems administrators, and research scientists.

The latest analysis found that 29% of these highly critical roles were still not filled five months after the job was posted. Gartner estimates that this leads to a  $12 million loss in productivity year over year.

"It's not just a matter of lost profits but lost opportunities for growth and innovation as well,"  said James Atkinson, a Gartner vice president of quantitative analytics and data science.

SEE:  How to build a successful career as a cloud engineer (free PDF)

Why weren't those positions filled? Gartner's TalentIQ team analyzed millions of data points from social media, job sites, web searches, job descriptions, and career websites to figure out what job descriptions work and why. 

Highlight diversity and inclusion

Atkinson said one of the most surprising findings was the power of organic diversity and inclusion posts on social media.

Among the 100 social media posts with the most interactions, diversity and inclusion was the most common theme. Diversity means reflecting a range of ages, genders, races, ethnicities, religions, and cultures. These posts were 1.7 times more likely to have high levels of engagement. Gartner measured interaction by compiling the sum of likes, comments, and shares for a post.

Companies recruiting new team members, said Atkinson, should put diversity and inclusion messaging front and center. 

"Job candidates, and specifically tech candidates, are drawn to examples of diversity and inclusive environments," he said.

Atkinson added that highlighting this aspect of a company will help to attract candidates with similar core values.

Make it mobile

Gartner's analysis found that a good mobile experience reduces the bounce rate of job websites by 25 points. However, Atkinson said few organizations have a mobile-friendly career website at all, let alone one that is easy to use.

"Everyone realizes that so much of what we do in life is on the mobile, but only about 6% of our sample had a career mobile app," he said.

Further, candidates want something that is easy to use and accessible, not a fancy design that looks better than it works."You don't want to be so distracting that you can't sift through those bells and whistles as a candidate to get to what you need to get to," he said. 

Describe what the company offers

Companies that tell candidates what they want to know about a job cut nine days off the time-to-fill process.

Atkinson said that job descriptions overemphasize what companies need from employees instead of what the company has to offer a new hire. Potential employees want to see less about required skills and more about the rewards of working for a particular company.

"Those sections are so long that we weed out qualified candidates," Atkinson said. "Companies are looking for the perfect unicorn candidate instead of looking for qualified people."

Gartner found that the optimal mix of information in a job description is:

  • Rewards - 25%
  • Work - 23%
  • Opportunity - 19%
  • Organization - 17%
  • People - 16%

Microsoft's talent attraction skills are genius level, based on Gartner's evaluation scale that goes from Genius to Gifted to Average to Novice to Beginner. Northup Grumman was next on the list with American Express next and medical device maker Stryker in spot number 4.

Gartner's TalentNeuron platform analyzes the universe of job descriptions to figure out what postings are most successful at attracting good candidates. The analysis considered more than 500 talent attraction indicators across 188 companies. 

The analysis found three key factors that influence a job posting's success. The employment branding component measures a company's effectiveness at using social media, search engines, and job sites. The job offer competitiveness criteria considers how well a company describes the value proposition and how competitive the package is. The final factor is a candidate's overall experience with the hiring process including the application and interview process.
"Everyone can't be a tech giant, but everyone has an opportunity to approve their talent attraction strategies," Atkinson said.

Also see


Gartner research shows that social media posts that reflect a diverse company can be a powerful recruiting tool.

Image: Gartner

By Veronica Combs

Veronica Combs is a senior writer at TechRepublic. For more than 10 years, she has covered technology, healthcare, and business strategy. In addition to her writing and editing expertise, she has managed small and large teams at startups and establis...