IT industry is growing quickly in importance which means it’s more and more in demand. Consequently, this means there should be no problem finding professionals, right? But what’s it really like in Serbia? If you read any newspaper article regarding this topic, you’ll see that the reason for the lack of IT professionals is the fact that the industry is growing so fast that there’s just not enough time for universities to produce as much talent as it is needed. Do you really think this is the problem? If your answer is no, you’re right.

First of all, if you’re counting on universities to produce professionals, you’ve got it all wrong. Best case scenario, they will produce people with great basic knowledge, and if you’re lucky they will have a useful final thesis or some freelance work. Everything else is up to you!

Why simple when we can just complicate it

IT maze

The first thing I’m going to discuss here is an employee turnover rate, which is rather low in IT industry in Serbia. You may not understand why this is a problem but that’s what we’ll hopefully explain here. The term refers to the percentage of employees who leave an organization during a certain period of time. It usually involves voluntary resignations, dismissals, non-certifications, and retirements. Normally, it doesn’t include internal movements like transfers, for example. BUT, if you’re aiming to hire someone new, and you’re not doing it right, you’re facing a major problem now that finding professionals is like finding a needle in a haystack…wearing boxing gloves and a blindfold. You guessed it – no one is looking for a change like they used to before. And this is a warning sign. Numerous new startups and companies are born annually – and they can’t find anyone to hire! Turnover rate is a normal thing. Usually, It’s either low – which is good, or high – which is bad. One thing it should never be is critically low or stagnant – because that’s unhealthy for a company.

This lack of change is happening, among other things, because job ads are written terribly.

Unicorns and Centaurs vs. People

Speaking of job ads – owners, HR, whoever writes them – you need to stop looking for a mythical creature and start looking for an actual person. Intelligent people have a tendency to be overly (self)critical. So, If you write job ads that make everyone question their competence (and yours) – you’re not going to hire a professional. You will then experience interviewing people who aren’t even close to being the right fit.

Here is a fun example: Last year I saw an interesting job ad that required: ”8 years of experience in Swift”.
Whoever wrote the ad is obviously lack basic knowledge. Or maybe they were joking, that would be cool.
Swift was introduced in 2014…Last year, if I remember correctly, was 2018. If you’re wondering how to fit 8 years in 4 years – well honey if you were a unicorn, you’d know. Jokes aside, you can’t expect people to apply to that, would you?

When you think you need more time, but time is an illusion

man holding a phone illusion

Let’s go back to the concept of time. First of all, anyone who went to Serbian universities and schools will tell you that you won’t be a professional after. Nor are you well prepared to DO any job. Universities and schools are all about talk and no action. Students acquire a lot of theoretical knowledge, but sadly don’t have a chance to exercise all that knowledge practically. Even if they do, it lasts for a week or two as my practical training did – which is not enough. It was worse in my high school. The department I went to was visualized very good – we had specially tailored classes and we were supposed to have more practical training than all that theoretical learning. The reality is all I ever did was bring breakfast and make coffee, even though I was clear about my eagerness to learn how to do the actual job. I guess the company didn’t find the time to explain the business to a child. But if they did, it would have been helpful for both sides in the future, don’t you think? This, of course, applies to every industry, not just IT. I studied tourism and languages.

It’s all about the Benjamins baby

money in a suitcase

Let’s state the obvious – Serbia is an economically struggling country. IT industry is said to be the future. A well-paid future. The logical course of events is that everyone rushes where the money is, especially because we “enjoy” economic stagnation for years now. So what’s the problem then?

Shut up and DON’T take my money

Back to those job ads. If companies are not looking for unicorns than they’re looking for either seniors, ninjas or leads. Because of our financial situation, most employers don’t want to invest their time or money in the process of creating professionals. Nowadays, everyone wants the whole package right away. This, you will agree, is completely contradictory to the newspaper explanations I mentioned earlier. If employers believed that the one true problem in Serbia is the lack of time for universities to produce all those seniors, they would be more flexible and invested in juniors and students. Seniors weren’t born as such. Years before you, someone gave juniors a chance to develop into seniors. They invested in them and helped them learn. Someone invested in Messi and Ronaldo before they became the best football players in the world.

Hiring Mr. Krabs

krab from spongebob

To cut employers some slack, we’ll discuss candidates a bit. Because people are not experiencing the abundance of money in Serbia, whenever they hear something pays well – that’s where they want to be. Companies may have unrealistic expectations, but the truth is candidates do too. Programming isn’t for everyone. Neither is medicine, nor psychology, nor law, nor science. You can earn a lot of money from each, but not everyone can do it. More often than not, candidates with an unrealistic image about their abilities come to interviews with even more unrealistic expectations about salaries. Just because you heard someone in America earns a six-digit amount of money in IT annually, doesn’t mean you must require the same. After all, every global tech giant (Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft…) was born in America. You shouldn’t forget you still live in Serbia – this DOES NOT mean I don’t love my country, because I do. It’s only the truth. We have a long way to go to get even close to comparing ourselves to economical titans. Should this, then, stop us from working? On the contrary.

Solution or a problem?

man holding his head

The solution some companies came up with is the introduction of training programs for students. Most companies, on the other hand, are worried it might be too much of a risk. They’re afraid that they will invest a lot in someone who will then leave them for a better opportunity. And this is where it all comes down to turnover rate. First of all, if it’s really a better opportunity – there’s nothing you can do about it. Some professionals you hired were someone else’s investment years ago, and your investment will be someone else’s hiree. It’s just how it should go – it’s the healthy way of things.

On the other hand, if someone leaves right after you’ve done your best to train them, for additional few bucks – maybe it’s for the best. After all, isn’t loyalty what we all look for? It’s better if someone leaves sooner than later – in the middle of a big project. Some people will just leave because they’re greedy. Let them. Others will leave because they will find something more interesting or fitting for them. Let them as well. BUT, some will also stay because they will cherish the amount of work you put into their growth, because they’re loyal, and because nobody wants to leave a job they love and know how to do.

The Solution

man holding text that says solution

In most cases, the solution is much simpler than you might think. It’s not true that there aren’t enough talents in the IT industry. The truth is, if you’re waiting for universities to produce professionals – you’re going to wait a loooong time. If you’re worried about the risk it comes with – how do you even start a company? Having a business is all about taking risks. If you can risk hiring HR departments that write job ads no one wants to apply to, I’m sure you can risk hiring someone who still needs to learn additional few things.

Like we said in our other text  – we should just unite to benefit from each other. 🙂