Bob Miano's Blog

An Executive journal

Be an IT Talent Scrooge

Learn from the Past for a Brighter 2016

Without the ghosts and scare tactics (well maybe one or two), I am going to encourage you to look with me back on 2015. Let's explore three IT talent acquisition lessons that we can take from 2015 in order to improve how your organization finds, retains and cultivates tech talent in the year ahead.

Lesson 1: Skill Shortages Are on the Rise
Faced with new projects and priorities, 53% of CIOs and technology Leaders who participated in the Harvey Nash 2016 Technology Survey noted they were experiencing internal IT skills shortages so severe that it hindered them from keeping up with competitors. With more than half of IT leaders facing challenging talent shortages, organizations are increasing incentives and salaries to attract and retain these sought-after professionals. For IT leaders and recruiters, there are a couple of lessons in these numbers:

1) Whether your business is hiring full-time or contract employees, move quickly to hire bright, well aligned IT professionals. With almost 4 in 10 technologists (37 percent) reporting they received 10 or more inquiries from headhunters during the past year, no skilled professional will stay on the market long.

2) To attract creative IT talent (permanent or contract), showcase your most interesting projects and technologies. Today's most passionate IT professionals want to work with "cool" tools and on interesting initiatives. Engage them by giving them a taste of the kind of exciting work they will do.

3) Make sure you are doing the work needed to retain the successful, productive IT talent you already have on staff.

For many IT professionals today flexible work options, such as working at home 1-2 days per week or having flexible work hours, is a powerful retention factor. Another factor is company culture. All employees (permanent or contract based) want to feel like they are a part of something at work. That begins with a solid, engaging business culture that welcomes and values their contributions. Paying attention to retention factors (from pay and benefits to culture and work-life balance) is essential to ensuring that internal turnover does not exacerbate any IT skill shortage you face today.

Lesson 2: Security Is Everything
Security remained foremost on the minds of leaders and innovators across the IT industry during 2015. High profile data breaches by cyber criminals, state sponsored hacking of government data, and the attack on Sony were powerful lessons on the importance of disaster response and how to integrate business and technology reactions. According to the Harvey Nash Technology Survey, only five percent of technology professionals think the risk of security attacks is falling. But businesses cannot grow if they do not innovate, and fear of cyber-attack cannot and should not prevent businesses from undertaking technology innovation.

The lesson here is to ensure your business is working with bright-minded security thinkers. This will be a key recruitment area for every IT organization in 2016 and beyond as businesses work to leverage transformative technology solutions, such as the Cloud and software defined data centers, which promise great efficiency and adaptability but bring new technologies and levels of risk.

Lesson 3: Focus on the Good
Finally, I think it is important to focus on all the good that technology can and is doing in order to bring new talent to IT. In our Tech Survey, the majority of technologist surveyed said technology will make our lives better over the next 20 years. That fact that technology can and will improve how people work, communicate, live, learn and play is also an important recruiting tool for today's rising generation: millennials.

The 2014 Millennial Impact Report from Achieve and The Case Foundation revealed how important it is for many of this young working generation to have a sense of purpose in their work. For example, 92 percent of millennials responding the survey said they were "actively contributing to a company having a positive effect on the world." A Deliotte 2015 Millennial Survey found that six of 10 millennials said a "sense of purpose" is part of the reason they chose their current employer. By focusing on the impact IT can have on improving the world in big and small ways, IT organizations, employers and recruiters can more effectively engage millennial talent and work to build a bigger, passionate IT workforce for the future. 

Now I didn't end that in a very Scrooge-like manner but that is what a New Year, emerging technologies and a passionate millennial generation will do to you. They will get you enthusiastic about what's ahead, which is exactly where we should be at the start of 2016.