Career Development is the Secret to Attracting Top Digital Talent 

elev8 - 4 min read

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Since the dawn of the digital era, change has become the only constant. Technological advancements have revolutionized industries, reshaped the modern labor market, and allowed organizations to contemplate a future built on unlimited growth opportunities. Digital transformation is, without question, the greatest source and driver of these opportunities, with new innovations emerging daily. Some businesses are more than prepared to capitalize on the lucrative possibilities that digital transformation is opening for them, while others are on the verge of falling behind.  

From the outside these organizations may seem identical, but some have an insight that others do not. Successful businesses understand that attracting top digital talent and leveraging their skills correctly is the single most effective way to maximize their growth and the secret to attracting and retaining this talent is through career development.  

Demand for Digital Talent  

Given the paramount importance of attracting a highly skilled workforce for businesses and the endemic shortage of tech workers worldwide, the digital talent market is blisteringly competitive. Demand for skilled workers, especially in high growth potential areas like AI, vastly outweighs supply, putting the onus on businesses to sharpen their recruitment strategies if they want to stand out to the available talent pool.  However, this does not mean that a freshly signed employment contract is an invitation to relax.

Talent acquisition only represents part of the challenge, as HR departments worldwide can attest. The average talent lifecycle is the shortest in living history, and never more so than in technical industries, with the average worker clocking out at 3.2 and 2.7 years respectively. Successfully narrowing the digital talent gap when competition is fierce and attrition is high means exploring the needs, wants, motivations, and pain points of workers and learning how to speak their language. In previous generations that would have translated to bonuses or salary increases, but in the digital age compensation is no longer king.  

The Importance of Career Development Opportunities for Tech Talent  

“Career Development” in this context encompasses digital upskilling and reskilling, access to the latest technological innovations and platforms, and potential for advancement. A demonstrable commitment to their continued success plays a pivotal role in shaping the evolving employee value proposition, assuming at least equal or greater importance than salary considerations. Having the time, support, and resources to learn new skills is so important to workers in the digital space that it has a direct and considerable influence on their decision making during all key moments in the talent lifecycle. 

Whether desiring to stay in their current position, making the decision to look elsewhere, formulating an exit strategy, or accepting a new job offer, tech workers are magnetically drawn to where they feel their growth potential is limitless. Areas in particular demand are data science, programming, software development, cybersecurity, AI, virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), and machine learning (ML).  

Continuous Learning and Skill Development  

Despite the clear importance of continuous learning and skill development for talent retention, and the obvious benefits for not just the individual but the organization as a whole, many leadership teams are wary of over-investing in their employees. There is an argument that loyalty is a value with diminishing returns in the twenty first century, and with attrition rates soaring even amongst tech giants, many businesses are understandably loathe to risk allocating huge swathes of their budgets for expensive upskilling and reskilling programs on what may prove to be a fickle and transient workforce.

Paradoxically however, organizations willing to take this leap of faith are much more likely to succeed in the long run. In an industry rife with buzzwords and empty promises, training programs provide irrefutable evidence of commitment, inspiring feelings of trust, boosting morale, and hopefully loyalty down the line.  

Curated Career Paths for Digital Talent  

Organizations can and should incorporate individualized career pathing opportunities as a complement to continuous learning in their career development strategies. Not only is it a surefire solution to maintaining the flow of the internal talent pipeline, but it also further demonstrates leaderships’ commitment to creating the best environment and conditions possible for its workforce. Forgoing antiquated attitudes around fixed and rigid career progression milestones or timelines and embracing the potential in innovative, novel and unique roads to success paves the way for further innovation, higher rates of job satisfaction and plummeting attrition.

Additionally, curating individual career paths does not need to focus solely on promotional opportunities. Encouraging lateral moves, providing “stretch” assignments, hosting internal talent marketplaces, and fostering a culture of mobility are also effective ways to break from the mold. Furthermore, organizations can empower their talent to explore different areas of the business and broaden their experience through voluntary rotational programs or customize their roles according to their individual strengths and areas of interest and expertise

Complementary Strategies to Attract Digital Talent   

While career development remains the single most important talent attraction and retention strategy, it isn’t the only one. There are many other steps organizations can take to enhance their employee value proposition and stretch their talent lifecycles. These include doubling down on integrating DE&I into their business models, creating a fun, dynamic, and positive work culture, embracing flexible working options, and safe-guarding employee-wellbeing. Moreover, ensuring the workforce is regularly recognized and rewarded for their contributions pays dividends for fostering feelings of loyalty and motivation.  

The Future of Digital Talent Attraction & Retention 

There are no short-term solutions for organizations to narrow the digital talent gap, extend the average employee lifecycle, or reduce attrition. All require considerable planning, innovative strategy, and not only staying abreast of trends in the digital talent labor landscape but accurately predicting how they will evolve.   

While it is impossible to forecast with complete accuracy where developments in digital transformation will take us, it is safe to assume with a fair degree of certainty that career development opportunities will remain of prime importance to the digital talent pool for many years to come. This means that the weight given to digital upskilling, reskilling, and cross-skilling in an organization’s attraction and retention strategies will be tantamount to its success.  

If you want to learn more about how Elev8’s digital upskilling and reskilling programs are helping organizations attract and retain top tech talent contact us today.