What tech firms are doing to overcome the talent crunch

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Recruiting the right talent is the top concern for technology firms in Singapore. How are growing tech companies in the country overcoming this challenge to grow and expand their teams? Rob Bryson, Managing Director of Robert Walters Singapore, shares his insights. 

85 per cent of firms cited manpower constraints as their greatest challenge in the Annual Business Survey 2017/2018 by SGTech, and the demand for tech talent shows no sign of letting up. Tech firms in Singapore are rapidly growing their teams, and non-tech companies are similarly hiring more IT talent to ramp up their digital transformations. Further intensifying the crunch is the recent wave of overseas tech giants entering the Singapore market, such as Alibaba, Amazon and Facebook.

While making the pay package more attractive is one way to recruit more people, raising salary offers can only go so far. Instead, growing tech companies with operations in Singapore are adopting other methods to secure the talent they need – from highlighting the upskilling opportunities to expanding their sources and channels of hiring.  

1. Showcasing the tech and possibilities

Technology is constantly evolving and the best tech talents know that unless they continually up-skill and improve themselves, they will quickly be left behind. As such, remuneration, while certainly an important consideration, is often not the final deciding factor – the learning opportunities are.  

Companies such as Razer, Ubisoft and Grab all highlight their great working culture, the cutting-edge tech available and the opportunities to create and innovate. Razer’s career page, for example, not only emphasises the company being at the forefront of the gaming industry, but also highlights the challenging nature of its job. While the latter may deter some jobseekers, it is likely to appeal to the very best tech talent who are always looking for new relevant exposure to help them stay ahead.  

2. Tapping on interim hires 

There is an increasing number of tech jobseekers who prefer to take on contract roles as they provide opportunities to learn about and use the latest tech, while offering comparable remuneration packages. 

For employers, hiring project managers or leads on an interim basis enables them to implement projects that may be outside of their current team capabilities – without having to worry about increasing their headcount. At the same time, the interim hire is also able to provide training and expertise for the existing team, allowing them to develop their capabilities for the future.

Contract hiring can also allow companies to ensure fit before making a permanent offer. In the past few years, we’ve seen quite a few companies we work with make the shift from permanent to interim hires for management roles, particularly for projects.  

3. Starting early

More tech firms here are also starting their recruitment efforts from as early as internships. While internships may require more from a company in terms of guidance and nurturing, it helps build loyalty and contributes to the overall talent pool available in Singapore. 

Sea (previously Garena) offers an attractive internship programme with its research and development (R&D) department, with a potential full-time offer for interns who perform well. This ensures the R&D department has a continuous flow of fresh ideas, while training young software engineers. Additionally, it allows Sea to check for compatibility before inviting interns back for a permanent role. 

We are also seeing companies target fresh talent, sending candidate managers to local universities and polytechnics, such as the Singapore University of Technology and Design, to ensure that they secure talent as early as possible through job fairs and presentations. 

4. Expanding their search beyond Singapore

Of course, bringing in talent from outside Singapore not only helps fill the resource gap, but also allows companies to inject experience and perspectives from outside of the country. Just last year, we saw ride-hailing company Grab bring in Theo Vassilakis, a previous Google and Microsoft employee who was based in the United States (US), as Chief Technology Office to head and grow its tech teams. 

Given the Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) Singapore has in place, companies should also consider extending their search to Singaporeans working outside of the country. There is a large group of Singaporean tech talents working overseas in countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, the US and more. Their international experience, along with their understanding of the local culture, makes them an invaluable asset, particularly to tech companies. 

However, reaching out to this group of people can be challenging without the right contacts and networks. To help companies gain access to Singaporean talent pools overseas, we have a program that connects with Singaporeans working or residing overseas, inviting them to “Balik Kampung ” or return home to work here. 

5. Staying on top of the market to keep ahead of competitors 

For companies looking to hire tech talent within the tight Singapore market, it’s important to keep in mind that the best people are continually looking to learn and stay on top. To ensure you get the talent you need, make sure to showcase to potential candidates the opportunities to explore cutting-edge technologies and up-skill, while expanding your reach out further to previously untapped pools of talent.  

This article was first published on The Orient, p. 37.

If you’d like to find out more about how to hire the best IT talent for your team, please contact Tim Klimcke at tim.klimcke@robertwalters.com.sg.