By Jeffrey Weber, Executive Director, Robert Half
The pandemic didn’t prompt the invention of cloud computing — enterprise spending on cloud infrastructure services had already exceeded spending on data center products by 2019. But the pandemic did act as a catalyst for growth.
In an era of remote working and social distancing, cloud solutions offered companies uninterrupted services for end users, reduced capital expense, high-level security and scalability when developing and managing business-critical processes. Market research firm Gartner forecasts that end-user spending on public cloud services will reach $482 billion in 2022, an increase of 54% from 2020.
However, there’s at least one gap companies can’t use cloud services to fill: talent. Whether you’re contemplating a migration to the cloud or looking to level up your current ecosystem, you’re going to need top tech talent to succeed.
How to find, hire and develop cloud talent
Technology leaders are urgently searching for these kinds of professionals — and not always finding them.
Senior managers surveyed by Robert Half said that cloud computing is the top skill set required by their IT departments, but over a third (34%) of these respondents added that professionals with cloud skills are the most challenging to find.
See this infographic for more results from our recent survey on cloud hiring trends.
Here are four tips that can help turn the tables in your favor when hiring for cloud roles:
1. Expand your talent pool
If you’re building cloud infrastructure for end-users and expanding the adoption of cloud-enabled applications, chances are you already have the digital communication and collaboration tools in place to support an anywhere workforce. Hiring remote workers gives you access to a wider talent pool, including skilled cloud professionals outside of your local area.
The good news is that tech professionals tend to be self-starters who can work from home with minimal supervision. However, if you want to drive maximum engagement and productivity, you need to do more than ship them hardware and expect them to start contributing.
A supportive and engaging onboarding experience for remote employees is critical and should include the opportunity to connect with colleagues on day one and an orientation that showcases career development, technical training programs, employee recognition and the ability to work from home at least part of the time. Skimp on this process, and you risk losing a talented worker to a competitor with a more supportive culture.
2. Hire for potential, not just track record
Exploring new talent pools is just as crucial as widening your current one. If you’re not already, consider forming a strategic alliance with a trade association or educational institution. When considering the latter, try to eliminate any unconscious favoritism you or your hiring team may have towards certain schools — or even towards universities in general. A full 89% of IT leaders surveyed by Robert Half said they are willing to hire candidates from technical training programs (e.g., Amazon Web Services apprenticeships) as well as those with traditional computer science degrees.
Hiring for potential may also require you to streamline your job descriptions. If your must-have requirements include multiple cloud certifications, you may unwittingly be excluding driven, talented candidates who simply haven’t had the same educational or vocational opportunities as their peers.
3. Prioritize upskilling and professional development
Without a strong upskilling and career development program, the talent you identified and hired based on the last tip may not stay long.
Most tech leaders seem to get this. More than half (56%) of IT managers we surveyed said they participate in cloud upskilling programs offered by companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Oracle. A similar proportion (55%) said they subsidize IT certifications and/or training for entry and junior-level talent. Think of this as an investment rather than an expense. Employees will use the skills they acquire during training to generate value over many years.
Also, remember that new hires aren’t the only source of untapped talent. Evaluate your existing team and identify people who are ripe for reskilling or upskilling. In this fiercely competitive hiring market, internal mobility is a cost-effective way to expand your skills base and reinforce your reputation as an employer that cares about professional development.
4. Benchmark your salaries, perks and benefits
Even with a stellar company reputation, client roster or cutting-edge tech stack, if your salaries for cloud professionals don’t match those of your competitors, you’ll struggle to attract top talent.
Use the Robert Half Salary Guide and Salary Calculator to benchmark midpoint salaries in your market — and then be prepared to sweeten the offer to land a standout candidate. If you can’t afford to be generous with baseline pay, put together a compensation package that includes perks and benefits IT employees value most. Flexible work arrangements, paid time off and employee discounts can all move the needle, while benefits such as subsidized tuition or certifications offer long-term value for both employer and candidate.
Accessing the cloud computing skills you need won’t be easy in the current hiring market. But with a wide-ranging approach, embracing internal as well as external candidates, considering entry-level talent as well as seasoned professionals, and offering remote work arrangements where feasible, you can build a team to steer you through the next stage of your digital journey.
Follow Jeff Weber on LinkedIn.