Shortage of skilled labour is a myth

Tech companies can't seem to find skilled labour while talented Women in Tech & Digital have no easy game to get employed. The problem is not the shortage of skilled labour, but rather institutional processes that hinder seeing and tackling the whole talent market.

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Women in Tech & Digital do not easily find jobs

Listen to these contradictory perspectives of the labour market:

Tech companies are complaining that in today’s market they can’t find the skilled labour they need in order to build their new digital solutions. At the same time and on an almost daily basis, witty works gets feedback from skilled women that they write motivation letters one after the other but would not even get invited to the first round of interviews.

If they are skilled & well educated they should not have any problem. (And the argument: „They are probably not skilled enough.“ doesn’t count because all of the women we have in our talent pool (60 by now) have been out in the labour market quite successfully for quite some years.)

So what is happening here? While male skilled labour in tech can just stand out onto the pavement and get a contract (or so we are told), it does not seem to be the same experience for Women in Tech & Digital. And this accounts for women in very different fields in tech: developers, engineers, testers, key account managers, UX professionals, data scientists, etc. etc. They all tell us the same tale: „I apply like crazy, hardly get invited for the first interview; if I do, I drop out in that round with the feedback that there wasn’t a fit.“ And what we keep observing, is that often these companies finally employ a male talent.

Since there are so many women out there looking for jobs, the shortage of skilled labour seems to be a myth. But we do believe our clients, when they tell us they can't find the skilled labour. That is why we took a closer look at the institutionalized processes within companies.

Since we started as witty works, we constantly talk to tech companies and ask them about their worries when recruiting. We also ask about their screening and interviewing processes. We see that most of them do recruiting as recruiting has always been done which is more or less in the following way:

  • Publish a job ad for a position. Different actors within the company contributed to the job ad and list their wishes.
  • Get CVs in, screen them against the checklist of the job ad
  • Invite those candidates that have the most checks
  • In interviews, grill them again on their skills
  • Select (mostly based on gut feeling) and make a salary offer

Rethinking the Recruitment Process

Let me state Albert Einstein at this point: "The definition of madness is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results."

Deduced from this logic, if companies want to recruit people with diverse background*, they need to question their recruitment process since they seem not to deliver the results needed. If it is troublesome to find talents, and more particularly the skilled Women in Tech & Digital to complement teams, hiring processes have to be changed. Most current recruitment processes have a serious bug. And I would even categorize these bugs as „critical“. Because we know that today in digital product development, having at work diverse teams are the most important asset companies have in order to be successful. Well working and successful team are key to a company's value. Not finding the right people hurts.

What can companies do?

  1. Detach themselves from the idea that the recruitment process they have is fine and that the problem lies outside the company. If companies cannot find candidates, it is not the market's fault. It rather is a bug in their internal process.
  2. No expectation towards the candidates. It is the company's goal to find more talent; hence it is the company's homework to adapt. Not the candidates'.
  3. Research what potential candidates actually need, taking a user centered approach
  4. Deploy it, test it, adapt.

Inspect & Adapt - also in HR processes

The fast changing world we live in asks for constant adaption. Companies working in the technological and digital fields have embraced that constant change and have found frameworks of Agile to be a great help to orient themselves.

Well, the fast changing world does not stop at digital product development. It has repercussions on labour markets, on new generations and on companies. So, in the human resources domain too, companies have to adapt. They need to realize that they cannot do as they have always done, but research what they should do differently and test it out.

From experience and what we can see from the Swiss market: those companies that take a different approach in recruiting and have left aside traditional practices, have less trouble finding talents. They do not complain about shortage of skilled labour, but are able to complement their teams with talents of diverse background. A big asset in today's globalized world.

Witty Works is happy to help you change your recruitment process so to make sure that you enable yourself to recruit people with diverse background.

* Please make sure that your company is not paying lip service to "diversity and inclusion". In order to be diverse and inclusive, a company needs to take concrete steps to change at different key processes and behaviours. Just saying that you want to be diverse and inclusive, won't make it happen. Actions make the difference.


If you are looking for a digital writing assistant for inclusive language, try out Witty for free. Witty detects non-inclusive language and provides ongoing training on unconscious bias and operationalizes inclusion.




Nadia Fischer

CEO & Co-founder Witty Works | Speaker on bias in language and business | Expert business development, sales, product strategy | Evangelist for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

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