Did You Know There’s a Hidden Pool of Tech Talent?

Did You Know There’s a Hidden Pool of Tech Talent?

Tension over return-to-office mandates & fewer remote roles creates a ripple of the ‘Great Resignation’ for 2024

In 2021 and 2022, the majority of tech talent wanted the remote work experience. Then, there was a shift in candidate attitudes on workplace preferences. With the layoffs and tightening of the labor market, Hired platform data indicated many candidates changed their preferences to be more open to a hybrid or in-person model. Were they tired of being at home or working from anywhere? Or were they reading the room?

According to Hired tech recruiting marketplace data, employers have steadily decreased the roles open to remote work. After a high of 72% of open roles classified as “open to remote,” in Q2 of 2022, a year later it was only 59%, then only 46% at year-end. As we enter 2024, the percentage continues to drop.

Meanwhile, much of the tech worker preference still sits with a truly remote work environment or a very flexible hybrid model according to Samantha Friedman, Hired SVP People Strategy

Hired candidate profiles show tech workers who prefer “remote only” roles peaked at 34% in Q2 of 2022 but have flattened since, fluctuating between 28% and 31%. However, when surveyed for their preference in The Tech Hiring Tightrope, 80% of tech workers said they’d prefer to work fully remotely. 

This has led employees to seek opportunities aligned with their true preferences. 

Related: Want to Win Top Tech Talent? Align with Candidate Preferences

Hired predicts the tug-of-war between employers and tech workers on the workplace will worsen, leading to a hidden tech talent pool.

You may have heard of “quiet quitting” or even “rage applying,” but what about “quiet applying?”

“Return-to-office (RTO) mandates from companies such as Roblox, Amazon, and others have already been a polarizing topic within the workforce, as employees face the option of commuting or finding another job,” says Sam Friedman.

Return-to-office threatens DEIB

“As more companies reverse their policies, many organizations will further erode any commitments to DEI. This is because women, people with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups are most negatively affected by return-to-office mandates.” 

In Hired’s webinar, Bold Predictions & Benchmarks: Master Tech Hiring in 2024, Sam Friedman explained, “A return to office or a strict hybrid model limits DEI opportunities. For instance, I’m sick right now and I have two little kids. We see that hybrid and full return to office is very much impacting those default parents, which are women. We also see those with disabilities [and other barriers] not wanting that return to office schedule. 

Hired data supports this and highlights a significant trend: 85% of surveyed women prefer fully remote roles, compared to 78% of men. 

In tech, women are already underrepresented, and about half tend to leave the field by age 35. This means the option to work remotely is a prerequisite for fostering equal opportunities, and not just a “nice-to-have.”

Sam adds, “While people want a job and are fighting in this tough market, at the end of the day, there will be a new market that opens up for people who really want to ensure flexibility and autonomy over their schedule.” 

A hidden tech talent pool

This, among other factors, will create a rise in “not-so-passive candidates” in a hidden tech talent pool, who would move to an opportunity in line with their workplace environment desires.

Related: 2023 Survey Results: Top 3 Benefits Ranked by Engineers (Besides Salary) 

In fact, 21% of men surveyed and 27% of women surveyed said they’re unhappy with their current work environment and actively looking because of it. 

Interestingly, 32% of surveyed in-office workers are actively looking for new remote or hybrid roles. This underscores the urgency for organizations to strategically embrace a remote-first working model, or at a minimum, more flexible working conditions. 

When surveying employers on their hiring plans for 2024, Hired found the majority of companies, 50%, plan to hire hybrid roles, while 22% are opting for in-office, and only 17% fully remote. 

What are the main drivers of the RTO trend? Surveyed employers in the 2023 State of Tech Salaries reported that a physical work environment offers more optimal conditions for enhanced collaboration, culture immersion, improved communication, and easier IT training and mentoring. 

A shift in power

Anna Papalia, founder of Interviewology, shared on the Talk Talent to Me podcast, “Quiet quitting is just a term for something that’s been going on forever. I think directors of talent are trying to figure out how, as talent folks, to be now. We don’t have the power the way we did before. And that’s unsettling to a lot of people. 

You can either hold on to your shred of power or you can let go and evolve. And I think that’s what this moment is calling for us to do.”

Ultimately, companies that are receptive to employee preferences will be better positioned to attract top talent, harness broader skill sets, and embrace richer, diverse perspectives in a time where maintaining a competitive edge is pivotal to driving innovation. 

Related: Boomerang Hiring? Be Careful – It’s a Risky 2024 Recruitment Strategy

Discover more tech recruiting and hiring predictions for 2024 to guide your strategy.