Technical recruitment should focus on design thinking

Posted May 05, 2017 by


It’s not news that there is a technology skills gap in the American workforce. The research, however, has mostly focused on technical recruitment that seeks coders and programmers. Devry University’s Career Advisory Board conducted research that taps into “applied technology skills”. Recruiters, including technical recruiters, should know the difference, know where these skills belong in their organizations, and how to find candidates with these skills.

We spoke with Alexandra Levit, workforce consultant and author, including of the international bestseller “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College.” Levit dove into the research results to help recruiters find the people and skills they need.


Watch our conversation with Alexandra Levit, or read the takeaways in the blog post below.

This is Part 2 of 2 of our conversation with Levit to hear her insight into technical recruitment and interpretation of the survey results, to provide tips for any recruiter seeking tech skills. A week ago she spoke to us about identifying applied tech skills and important considerations when recruiting for those skills.

Levit is part of College Recruiter’s  Panel of Experts, which is a group of experts around the country who regularly provide top notch advice for both talent acquisition professionals and entry level job seekers.

Design thinking is key to closing the technology skills gap

To close the gap in tech skills–both applied and hard skills–recruiters must understand what design thinking is, and screen for it. Levit defines design thinking as a strategy for innovation. “It uses creative processes to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”

Design thinking is not widely understood yet, which means the bulk of recruiters do not yet know what it is. Recruiters should educate themselves and their organizations about promoting it in the workplace. The recruiters who get ahead of the trend and spot the candidates who can leverage design thinking, may win big in the “war for talent”. To do this, evaluate candidates for traits like innovation and creativity.  Essentially, you are looking for people who can approach old problems in new ways, and who aren’t afraid of upsetting the status quo. These are the “outside the box” people.

Creativity is very important to business, even in tech roles

Creativity is one of those skills that is becoming increasingly important. So much so that we are starting to see an “A” added to “STEM” (science, technology, engineering and math) recruitment. “STEAM”, of course, includes the arts. “People see the writing on the wall,” says Levit. Technical jobs will become automated, but if you have creative people, they can anticipate problems, even crises. For example, creative tech types can create games and simulations that will help people discover new solutions. They will help your organization discover answers that are not obvious.

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Just because an employee knows how to develop databases today, doesn’t mean a machine won’t take over his or her job in the future. The value employees must bring is the ability to solve difficult problems.

Another big takeaway from the survey is that recruiters, including tech recruiters, should take a good look at whether they really need hard technical skills in new employees. Overall, says Levit, organizations overemphasize their need for hard tech skills. Of course, if you are recruiting for information security, you need those hard skills. But don’t confuse hard skills with applied tech skills. “Know the difference,” says Levit. As she explained further in part 1 of our conversation, “applied technology skills means just having a general understand of how to use technology to solve business problems. It doesn’t mean that you’re actually the one implementing the technology on an everyday basis.”

Alexandra Levit career consultantAbout Alexandra Levit: Alexandra is a consultant for all things workplace. Her goal is to prepare organizations and their employees for meaningful careers in the future workplace. A former nationally syndicated columnist for the Wall Street Journal and writer for the New York Times, Fast Company, and Forbes, Alexandra has authored several books, including the international bestseller “They Don’t Teach Corporate in College.”

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