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Dealing with a Talent Shortage

Jan 28 , 2016

IT hiring managers are fighting an uphill battle. According to a recent Gartner report entitled "Service Providers Are Waging War against U.S. Talent Shortage with Unconventional Methods", the U.S. Department of Labor projects that, by 2020, there will be 1.4 million computer specialist job openings. At the same time, universities are projected to produce qualified candidates for only about 30 percent of those jobs.

If you think that things might turn around in the IT industry before 2020, consider this. The White House estimates that there are 500,000 job openings in IT that need to be filled right now.

IT hiring managers must search carefully in a scarce pool of candidates.

Factors Affecting the Stats

If you are an IT hiring manager, it is likely that you have felt the pain of these numbers in your own organization. Some industry analysts, however, postulate that part of the problem may be in the outdated hiring methods of IT's past.

When InformationWeek recently surveyed the IT community about the talent shortage, 73 percent of respondents at companies with fewer than 1,000 employees and 88 percent of respondents at larger companies admitted that their organizations are feeling the effects of a talent shortage.

When asked if a botched hiring process is responsible for that shortage, about half the respondents at smaller companies and 45 percent of the respondents at larger companies think that faulty hiring processes could be a part of the problem.

Some of the issues identified were:
• reluctance on the part of management to offer competitive salaries to attract mid-level talent
• age discrimination which, in effect, eliminates potentially strong candidates in mid-level positions by posting jobs at entry level positions by default
• overly stringent requirements, creating a "purple squirrel" position with which candidates are unlikely to match
• a lack of emphasis on development and training of existing talent

All these factors contribute to the talent crisis, creating a perfect storm of sorts for IT hiring managers today.

The Cost of Using Old Hiring Processes in a New World

What happens when an organization refuses to change hiring strategies in this difficult environment? The list of problems is sobering. A lack of IT talent in your organization leads to delayed completion of IT projects, poorer quality IT projects, and missed revenue opportunities. Those results are the obvious effects of failing to proactively address a talent shortage.

Here are some less obvious side effects that can be just as devastating to your bottom line:

• dissatisfaction among your current IT workers because of untenable workloads
• higher employee turnover
• damage to your reputation and brand among the existing talent pool

Adopting New Strategies

It is clear that IT hiring managers must find creative ways to deal with a talent shortage to prevent these negative outcomes. A change in perspective is needed to capitalize on the assets you have while mining the talent pool for additional assets. Here are some strategies that work:

1) Put more emphasis on potential than you may have in the past.

Looking for the "perfect" candidate right out of the gate may blind you to candidates who can be groomed for your position. Thinking more about the personality of your candidate and less about his or her list of credentials may yield surprising results.

If a candidate demonstrates an ease with your company culture, a willingness to learn and grow, and a strong technical background, do not casually dismiss him or her merely because he or she is missing a checkbox or two on your list.

2) Look for similar instead of "spot-on".

Invest in development of talent. You may have candidates who would fit your bill beautifully sitting right beneath your radar, either already in-house or in a pile of rejected resumes. Consider the ROI of offering a development program to attract and nurture top talent.

3) Network like you mean it.

A solid tool in every hiring manager's toolkit is networking. However, it is easy to let your networking skills get stale. Adding fuel to your networking fire will heat things up and keep prospective candidates interested. Consider partnering with colleges that offer co-op programs. Attend networking events. Make your company attractive to the millennial mindset.

4) Find the candidates who are not looking.

Consider ways to woo top candidates away from other companies. Think outside the box. Strengthen your compensation packages by finding out what your competition is offering and one-upping where possible.

This is an area where working proactively with an IT recruiter can be most beneficial. Good recruiters have solid relationships with a wide spectrum of IT pros from entry-level to C-suite positions. Hence, they are often in a position to know when an IT specialist may be toying with the idea of a change. Use this resource to help you identify your next big find.

Creativity in the hiring process nets strong candidates.

Changing the Rules Helps You Win the Game

Take a realistic look at your hiring process, identify weaknesses in your strategy and make the necessary adjustments. IT is a rapidly changing field, and your hiring practices must reflect that dynamic environment if you are to rise above the competition and attract top talent.

If you want to take advantage of the skills of a proven group of IT recruiters, please contact us. We will work with you to ensure that you find the candidates you need for true growth.