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Anyone who has worked in the tech industry knows all too well the trials and tribulations of recruiting tech talent.
Countless articles have been written and surveyed on this topic. Cloud computing skills, in particular, are scarce relative to demand, at one point bringing some companies’ adoption plans to a standstill.
While there are multiple ways to address this challenge, there is one fundamental choice that companies can make in their technology strategy that is more important than ever in the cloud-first era. This choice will pay off both in the short term and in the long term when it comes to hiring and retaining the best talent: Embracing modern, open technologies and standards.
From languages to tools to culture and methodologies, the adoption and use of open technologies—as is the case in many DevOps toolchains—will have a compounded positive impact on the technical talent in your organization.
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Will this solve your recruiting and retention challenges overnight? of course not. But it’s an important part of an overall strategy to attract and retain the best talent.
Here are three reasons:
1. People who use open technology are better connected with their peers
This is the short-term (almost immediate) advantage of investing in a modern open technology stack: it provides your current and future teams with significant social capital in their peer group in the IT industry.
People get excited about the tools and technologies they’re using — and start talking about them excitedly. This creates an infectious mixture of pride and enthusiasm, which in turn creates a powerful bond with colleagues who are using (or want to use) modern tools.
This confirms to existing employees that they are part of a technologically advanced organization. It regularly sends the same message to the professional community.
This is not possible with highly closed or proprietary technology stacks. With that, when people discuss their work, it’s really only clear or meaningful to other people in the organization. This limits network effects.
To be clear, a company’s products and services can absolutely be proprietary. That’s how they build, deliver and support those products that can be opened. Good examples here are Golang and Python. Golang is very exciting and growing rapidly; Python is already everywhere. This illustrates a cascading benefit: when you onboard new employees, they can start working immediately, rather than spending weeks or months bringing things up to speed with, say, a proprietary scripting language.
2. People see better career progression
Here’s a long-term benefit: When your tech stack embraces open, modern tools and standards, you’ll provide current and future employees with a more obvious career path through a market-proven set of methodologies and techniques.
For most tech professionals, it’s almost always a safer bet than going into a very closed niche system and becoming an silo within it. Those in the latter situation may become the rare unicorns in the legacy ecosystem, but they risk being eliminated, rather than those who learn and build on-the-job skills through technologies and methodologies used by a large number of organizations and industries.
In essence, you are offering people the opportunity to grow and advance within your own company – absolutely critical if you want to retain top talent – while also making it clear to potential hires , they will accumulate lasting valuable experiences that they can also use elsewhere if they choose in the future.
3. People jump into the fixed pool for technical validation
It’s no secret that many IT professionals value autonomy. They are usually self-taught and/or self-led. But that doesn’t mean they’re the proverbial lone wolf. They base their learning and independence on knowledge and validation of existing expertise in their field.
When you work with open technologies, the existing pool of expertise is enormous — and very valuable not only to individuals but to entire organizations. This ties in with point 1 above and broad peer groups: proprietary technology stacks depend on a homogenous internal community. An open technology stack gains the huge advantage of a global community with unlimited reach.
Smart technologists are always looking for technical validation: Am I writing this in the best possible way? Am I using this tool optimally? is this safe Am I using best practices developed by numerous experts?
In a closed system, the only people who can effectively provide verification will be a small group of peers using the same proprietary technology. In an open system, the peer group can be very large. (Python is another obvious example.)
This is very important to the individual and very valuable to the organization that employs them. Security, an area with a notorious skills shortage, is a good example: opportunities for self-study are plentiful these days. Hiring managers who embrace open systems will benefit if the security engineers on their teams can rely on proven practices and lessons learned from security practitioners around the world.
Viewed in this light, it’s not just a matter of helping you hire one person, but of inviting the knowledge of thousands of other people into your organization. This is the power of open modern technologies and methods.
Kieran Pierce is Executive Vice President of Product Strategy lemon grass.
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