Responding to Tech Job Candidates’ Top Career Concerns

Surveys show that the vast majority of technology professionals are “satisfied” or “highly satisfied” with their careers and current roles.

But like any profession in any industry, that doesn’t mean everything is perfect. To make sure you (the recruiter) fully understands how tech pros perceive their industry and careers, here’s what many potential candidates have internalized as hard realities:

Yes, They Have to Deal with Bureaucracy

Even if they just want to focus on technology, tech pros may have to deal with a fair amount of office politics and corporate bureaucracy, said Brien Posey, a tech writer, Microsoft MVP and former CIO.

“Most companies actually discourage employees from taking a ‘MacGyver’ approach to innovation,” Posey noted. Management may err on the side of caution and end up killing good projects in the process.

Unless tech pros are willing to work for an early-stage startup where they have massive control over daily decisions, they may need to temper expectations when it comes to flexing their creative muscles. Sure, there’s always some room for innovative thinking; but they’re not surprised if several layers of management murder at least some of their ideas.

For recruiters, this creates an opening: By convincing prospective candidates that they’ll have plenty of opportunity to act on their ideas, and focus on the technology they love, you’ll stand a better chance of drawing their interest.

Work-Life Balance Could Prove a Myth (Depending on the Job)

Many tech jobs have nonstandard schedules, or require staffers to be available 24/7 to respond to emails or other incidents, noted Nathan Chung, senior consultant, Cybersecurity Advisory at Ernst & Young (EY).

Chung speaks from experience, having started his career in help desk and cyber-incident response. “Those jobs in particular required sacrifice, working long hours, and took time away from family,” he noted.

Not all jobs in tech will prove that demanding. As a recruiter, just make sure you emphasize the company’s focus on work-life balance; tech pros will appreciate that.

Systemic Ageism Exists in Tech Hiring Practices

Systemic ageism is a continuing issue in tech. For example, an analysis of actual client data by Visier found that hiring decisions in tech firms do indeed favor younger candidates, with managers hiring Millennials over Gen X candidates at a higher rate than in non-tech industries. That analysis further confirms the perceptions and experiences of tech pros who participated in Dice’s Diversity and Inclusions Survey.

While there are steps companies can take to counter ageism, it’s not easy; short of changing careers and leaving tech entirely, their best course of action is often to build their network, emphasize their management goals to prospective employers, and keep their skills up-to-date.

If a company offers a clear management track and/or educational opportunities, that could ease the minds of many tech pros who are considering whether to apply for an open position. Don’t be afraid to talk through their concerns with them.

Older Tech Workers Experience a Drop in Salary

The Visier study revealed another inconvenient truth about careers in tech: Mature tech workers generally perform at a higher level than older workers in non-tech industries, but still experience a similar decline in wages and salaries.

From age 40 onwards, the data shows that non-manager workers in tech are increasingly likely to receive a top performer rating as they age, mature and gain experience. However, older tech workers experience the same salary lifecycles as their counterparts in non-tech industries.

If you’re recruiting more mature tech pros, emphasize the equality of pay and other benefits; this could put their minds at ease.

Careers are Always on the Verge of Obsolescence

A tech pro’s job is to increase business efficiencies and profitability by applying new technologies. However, if they’re good at their job, they can end up working themselves right out of a job.

For example, they could lose their job if they recommend a migration to a cloud computing environment or the outsourcing of a company’s network management. And some academic researchers have warned that A.I. will replace coders by 2040.

The bottom line is that, unless they’re always evolving and learning new things (and making a concerted effort to stay employable and relevant), they are in danger of becoming obsolete, Chung advised.

As a recruiter (or hiring manager), highlighting a company’s educational opportunities is an excellent way to ease these fears. If tech pros feel that the company is supporting their career growth, they’re more likely to jump onboard (and stay for the longer term).

Environmental Stressors

Regardless of specialization, tech pros have to deal with angry users, stress, pressure and deadlines. Many eventually burn out. “The problem with tech is that things don’t always work the way they’re supposed to,” Posey noted.

For instance, if a major system goes down or there’s a significant hack or data breach, a tech pro can get laid off or fired. Indeed, a 2018 study by Kaspersky Lab showed that 31 percent of global breaches have led to employees losing their jobs. At the very least, the staff will be expected to work 24/7 until the issues are fixed and addressed.

“Some environments actually border on being toxic or hostile,” Posey added. But while every worker endures some amount of stress in the workplace, it may be possible to spot a negative culture, toxic teammates, or unreasonable bosses before it’s too late.

By highlighting the reasonableness of a company’s culture, and even allowing the candidate to speak to some current and/or former employees about their experiences, a recruiter can ease these fears about stress, pressure, and toxic culture. Remember, transparency and communication are absolutely key when convincing tech pros that a particular workplace is perfect for them.