The Tech Talent War Is Global, Cross-Industry, and a Matter of Survival

October 26, 2021

With software and technology becoming mission-critical for businesses throughout the economy, CEOs in every industry are recognizing that their ability to compete comes down to one thing: having the right talent.As a result, the war for technology talent is getting fiercer and spreading to new fronts as demand for crucial roles skyrockets. This expanding talent crunch encompasses more than just the well-documented need for data scientists, software engineers, and other technical roles (see Figure 1).

There’s also a rapidly growing demand for the supporting cast that helps bring technology products to market and ensures they thrive; customer success and product managers are among the fastest-growing in this category, according to Burning Glass data on US job postings (see Figure 2).

At the same time that the scope of in-demand tech roles is widening, there are also more companies vying for them. It’s no longer just tech companies competing against one another; other industries have jumped into the race. In 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted hiring for most companies, at least temporarily, more than 40% of software engineer and developer hires were made by nontech companies, up from about a third in 2010, according to an analysis of US data using Bain’s Aura℠ talent platform (see Figure 3).

But many companies are struggling to compete for top talent because the largest technology companies—the hyperscalers Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft—and tech start-ups are sucking up top-flight candidates at unprecedented rates. Last year, while many companies were furloughing or cutting staff amid the pandemic’s economic fallout, Facebook announced it would hire 10,000 additional product and engineering staff members, and Amazon was reportedly advertising more than 20,000 open tech jobs. And over the past decade, tech start-ups have been increasing the size of their software engineering and developer staffs by nearly 60% each year, the fastest hiring pace among tech and non-tech companies, according to our Aura℠ analysis.

Now, it’s becoming clear that the competition for tech talent isn’t simply an HR problem. It’s about survival.

This article was originally written by Bain & Company, and republished with permission.