Sourcing Digital Talent: Finding Digital All-Stars in Unlikely Places

sourcing digital

Sourcing Digital Talent: Finding Digital All-Stars in Unlikely Places

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With rapid digital transformation brought about this year by COVID-19, in months to come as businesses recover, the competition for hires with digital skills is going to become fiercer.

This competition is going to be tough not just for tech, but for all the sectors.

Many sectors like banking, financial services, insurance (particularly across SSA, etc) across emerging markets are undergoing rapid transformation. Companies from all these sectors have one thing in common – digital talent needs. They are rapidly hiring digital talent for software engineering, digital marketing, data analytics, etc. to drive their digital agendas.

They are competing for the same set of people and skills, given that all businesses are pursuing digital agendas of some sort ranging from added product offerings, operations, mobile apps, etc.

In some instances, the demand outranks the supply, which has led to a sourcing challenge. This is acute for fast-growing SMEs who do not have the budgets and infrastructure to engage in large scale recruitment drives, like MNCs. This requires a need for greater creativity.

So, where should these companies find digital talent? Are there any unlikely places that they are overlooking? We are here to share our own expertise with you on this.

Look beyond traditionally, digital sectors

We’re increasingly seeing great digital talent come from sectors beyond IT and the computer software giants you might think of first (Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, etc.). A lot of these emerging sectors have not been digital historically, but are now going through digital transformations. For example, sectors like agriculture, energy, and distribution and logistics are not traditionally tech-forward sectors, but we have seen some great tech talent present there.

  • Let’s take the energy access sector, for example. Energy access is increasingly driven by data and finance, so we have found talent which excels at data analysis within energy access companies. Their solutions are driven by software, so they seek out and hire great engineers.
  • Agriculture is another sector where a range of companies are providing value-added services to farmers via technology, giving them access to information and data and driving greater market transparency. The digital transformations that are driving change in the agriculture sector are a great grooming environment for tech talent.

Look at locations beyond your own back-yard

Accelerated by COVID-19, digital talent has gone global. So instead of just thinking about what and who, you can find in your own backyard, think global.

Sourcing talent in your location or vicinity is the obvious first place most recruiters start, but the drawback is that you may end up missing out on places with great talent pools especially for digital skills.

Additionally, talent cost is a critical consideration for businesses especially SMEs and SMBs. By looking beyond your backyard (especially if you’re located in an expensive metro city), you can cut down costs and not compromise on talent quality.

There is great talent sitting at large, multinational tech companies no doubt, but hiring from them can prove more cost-prohibitive to most SMBs in the market. By looking at lesser-known talent pools, in less explored markets, your costs can go down significantly while ensuring the quality of candidates is not compromised.

Think of looking outside your city or even country to find high-quality, remote talent. We are increasingly working with large companies in East Africa who are looking for tech talent in India, to access a greater supply of talent at lower costs.

By looking beyond the obvious and closest places, you can better source talent from anywhere in the world.

Cultivate graduate talent pipelines

Cultivating graduate talent pipelines is a non-traditional way to think about sourcing digital talent, but building a strong bench of entry-level digital talent will help you build a sustainable, long-term pipeline of great digital talent. Play the long game.

Given the fierce competition for existing and emerging digital roles, companies should look at entry-level talent which can mature well in the role and technology.

Companies can build relationships with technical institutions known for honing a particular skill or technology, this way they have access to vetted talent, ensuring access to a cost-effective and renewable talent pipeline.

As digital transformation cannons forward and competition for talent grows more intense, companies have to explore unknown places to source talent. We hope these ideas give you some inspiration in your search for great talent.


At Shortlist, we’re experts in finding digital talent for companies that don’t have multinational budgets for tech talent, match our clients with talent that’s interested in rolling up their sleeves and contributing to high growth environments. Whether you need a new CTO or you’re building out a 50-person tech team, we have the experience and bench of talent to be able to help you grow your digital team. We are uniquely positioned to solve cross-border digital talent needs given our full-team presence across offices in East Africa and India. Beyond our physical presence, we can source talent globally from anywhere in the world and have worked across 25+ countries.

Hiring tech talent? Reach out to us today to see how we can help you.

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