How The War In Ukraine Is Affecting US IT Talent Supply

Dennis TupperBy Dennis Tupper
May 17th, 2022 • 3 Minutes

For 13 plus years I’ve been either a recruiter or recruitment marketer – recruiting and attracting talent for large companies for literally millions of roles over the years. One of the largest segments of skill sets that I’ve been tasked to assist with have been within IT. Supply and demand is always tight within IT, and any shift in supply creates an even tougher environment for companies to compete for talent. More time spent recruiting and more investments in recruitment marketing and employer branding are being made. Time and money are crucial, and US companies are having to pull out all the stops in both areas.

When the invasion of Ukraine began, I knew it would have a profound effect on the IT labor supply for US companies. With Ukraine being the top producer of offshore IT talent globally, it motivated me to do a deep dive on the potential impact here.

Getting A Pulse On Unemployment Rates

The invasion began in late February 2022. The first full month of the war (March 2022), the overall unemployment rate in the US was 3.6%. For IT professionals, the unemployment rate was 2% – almost 50% less. Of that 2%, you have to think about how the pandemic has made an effect – as in some of those people who are out of the workforce might not go back in immediately or permanently. This is because they could be taking care of children due to lack of childcare, fear the risk of contracting COVID (either commuting to work or on-site at their place of employment), taking early retirement, or trying a new industry altogether – as many in the Great Resignation have done. 

This means the available IT workforce is less than represented 2% – making the talent supply more scarce than it already appears.

Losing The Number One Offshore Resource

For companies hiring IT professionals, it’s never been harder to find and obtain top talent than today’s landscape domestically. Also, with the United States’ reliance on offshore talent – because domestic is so difficult to find due to supply and demand – to have Ukraine, the number one technology offshore supplier, completely shut down due to the war further depletes the global supply that US companies rely on. 

It truly becomes a needle in a haystack to find the right candidate in IT who’s willing to choose you over all of your competitors nationwide.

Now think about the overall landscape – how it’s difficult to hire and what the numbers are that kind of show that. Recently, technology job postings went up 7.5%, from February to March – from 383,000 open technology jobs to 412,000, which is an increase of 29,000 or 7.5%.

The supply is dwindling, the demand is going up, and it was already a difficult industry to fill roles in. These are realities that hiring managers and companies with software technology openings do not want to hear, however they have to face the facts.

How To Combat The Hiring Obstacles

There are a couple of ways that companies can try to overcome this obstacle. One is compensation, since it is typically one of the biggest drivers in those seeking new employment. The other is the employer value proposition (EVP). At this point, EVP has never been more important than it is today – with any company who is trying to identify talent and convince candidates why your company is the one they should want to work for. IT companies should focus on their EVP – because you need to tell people what you offer, what you stand for, and what you embrace. It’s crucial to showcase how your values align with the motivations of the candidates you’re seeking. Couple that with compensation, and you are building compelling reasons to join your organization if you do all of this in concert.

Another strategy for the US to help increase the talent supply would be to invest in homegrown talent by encouraging more people to pursue careers and higher education in information technology. Companies should increasingly either sponsor people and then hire the candidates right out of college, or create a feeder program with internships while people are going to school. That way, people can get real world experience while they’re learning in college – and when they come out fully educated, the candidates can then fill the companys’ open roles. Your organization must have a plan in place to grow and nurture the talent in addition to the strategies to traditionally attract such as recruitment marketing and employer branding.

The competition for IT talent has never been so fierce, as the supply and demand are on opposite ends of the spectrum. To counteract these factors, companies will need to take action to overcome this drastic shift in an already dire landscape when it comes to hiring IT talent.

We can’t rely on offshore talent as we once did, because now we’re competing with other countries for that same talent. It’s supply and demand, as the crucial supply from Ukraine has temporarily vanished. Companies must compete not just in compensation, but with the reasons candidates should want to work there – and that crucial messaging is embedded in the utmost important employer value proposition.


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