“New Collar” Jobs are all the Rage. How to Win the War for New Skilled Labor.

Guest: Rachel Bitte Employment Branding and Culture, HR Tech, HR Technology, Labor, Recruiting, Recruitment Marketing, Sourcing, Talent Acquisition, Tech Talent, Training and Development, War for Talent, Web/Tech

Today, every company is a technology company. No doubt, you’ve heard the phrase before. As innovations like artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, and blockchain infiltrate our everyday lives and the office, so grows the business need for skilled laborers to build and support these technologies.

Amid the backdrop of this radical shift to tech jobs — and corresponding skills shortage in our country — the worker of the future has begun to emerge. Coined “new collar” workers, these digital-savvy job seekers possess the mix of technical and soft skills required to perform the types of specialized tasks (like coding, data science, and cloud computing) that are in high demand right now.

If you’re like most of us, you could probably use a boost when it comes to landing talent for those tough-to-fill tech positions. As the skills gap continues to intensify, the new collar worker may be your new secret weapon. So, here’s what you need to know.

Shed your education expectations

Often with storied academic programs, a degree from a four-year university can feel like a safe bet when determining the caliber of a candidate. However, as demand for tech jobs remains red hot, more and more companies are looking to candidates who aren’t necessarily four-year college degree holders but have a very particular set of skills to fill niche positions.

Today, many workers are turning to alternative education paths like coding camps or online classes to get the skills they need. These can be an excellent resource for sourcing candidates with the technical ability you require, but only if you shed your education expectations and know where to look.

Some companies have already designed their own initiatives to prepare workers for technical jobs within their companies, such as apprenticeships or train-to-hire programs. But for companies with a more limited budget, forming relationships and partnering with established academies or boot camps can be another way to build a new collar talent pipeline.

Asking around and doing some homework can help you figure out which ones are legit, and smart companies are also offering benefits and incentives to candidates for continued education.

Know your values and compete on culture

Today, many recruiters assume that because you can’t compete with Google and Amazon, you can’t land quality tech talent. Wrong.

While it’s difficult to peel away folks who want to work for a Silicon Valley tech giant, you shouldn’t actually be competing for that type of job seeker anyway. What you have to offer workers is probably very different, and something bigger tech companies can’t: the opportunity to have autonomy and build something from the ground up.

That’s a likely profile for many new collar workers, so really channel that mantra in your recruitment marketing. In order to do that, you need to understand your own values and then compete on culture, rather than compensation or something else.

As you’ve probably felt day-in and day-out, it’s still fierce out there when it comes to recruiting. And it’s even more challenging when it comes to finding skilled laborers for those new, but critical, technical positions.

There is a bright spot though. If you get a head start, open your mind to the value of alternative educational paths, and market yourself to those with that experience and skill set — then you can broaden your talent pipeline with that coveted next wave of tech workers.