5 Tips for Tackling the Technology and IT Hiring Crisis

High tech is a leading source of innovation driving the world economy. Technology executives must hire the best, the brightest and the hardest working to keep their engines running. Unfortunately, the competition is going after the same people.

Growth in tech means that successful organizations are expanding and often find themselves understaffed. According to research from Dice, a tech career site, 78 percent of managers were increasing staff expansion last year. And 71 percent of these hiring managers were planning an 11 percent or greater expansion.

Therein lies the problem: Almost half of the hiring managers surveyed said it takes longer to fill these jobs compared to in the past.

Research from Robert Half Technology also bears this out. The company interviewed over 2,500 CIOs about their hiring outlook for the first half of 2017. It found that 61 percent of these top IT executives said it is either somewhat or very challenging to find IT professionals with the right skills.

The Robert Half research focuses on the needs of CIOs and finds that hiring is driven by business priorities. “IT leaders are bringing on full-time staff strategically and focusing on key business priorities, such as enhancing enterprise tools and strengthening IT security,” said John Reed, senior executive director for the consultancy. “Business demands for IT teams continue to grow. Companies are relying not just on full-time hires but also project professionals with specialized skills to meet ongoing business needs and help reach organizational goals,” said Reed.

Here’s what these CIOs need most:

  • Database management (44 percent)
  • Desktop support (42 percent)
  • Network administration (42 percent)
  • Cybersecurity (41 percent)

Deloitte also sees great hiring as the key to innovation and success. “The need for speed is another important consideration, and in order to maintain the competitive pace of innovation, companies are engaged in a global war for talent,” the company wrote in its 2017 Technology Industry Outlook report.

“They must find ways to tap a resource pool that goes beyond the boundaries of their organizations and create ecosystems that foster collaboration with entrepreneurs, startups, academia, and even competitors.”

Deloitte argues that hiring companies may have to be more flexible. “The rise of the ‘gig economy’ is making more flexible, project-based arrangements an acceptable alternative to company-based employment. We also expect to see businesses become increasingly amenable to non-traditional ways of working that allow people to be productive in less structured, often untethered or mobile environments,” the report said. “This is not surprising: Some research indicates that employee mobility not only enhances employee satisfaction, but it leads to greater productivity.”

So let’s get to hiring!

1. Start Spreading the News

First, you have to let local job seekers know you have an opportunity. Job sites are an obvious choice, and you can further narrow your audience by using LinkedIn. Often, it’s more effective to harness you and your employees’ network of contact. A hiring bonus helps when using your employees to find additional staff.

2. Create a Positive Image

When you decide to make an offer, you clearly want that candidate. At the same time, you want that candidate to desire to work for your company. Just as you want customers to view your shop positively, you must roll out that same red carpet for job candidates. All your employees should put their best foot forward and demonstrate what a great workplace your MSP is.

You should also make sure your web presence represents your company and staff well.  This doesn’t mean you need to invest lots of money on a huge website.  However, make sure your digital presence is professional, up-to-date, and reflects the true nature of your business and work environment.

Beyond these impressions, the reality of working at your company is also critical. Clearly lay out the job expectations through a highly detailed job description, with salary range and key benefits so a candidate can bow out early if there isn’t a fit.

Another key criterion to success is to lay out a growth path so the candidate knows your shop will be a great place to work for the long run.

3. Know When to Ask for Help

Hiring can be a time-consuming process, and you and many of your workers charge at a pretty high billable rate. Is this process a smart use of your time economically, and do you have the skills to do a good job hiring? If the answer to either is no, consider getting a staffing agency or headhunter to handle the heavy lifting such as advertising, sifting through resumes, pre-screening and setting up formal interviews. Of course, you and your staff should handle the interviews, and check the references so you know exactly what you are getting.

4. What to Look For

There are many specializations within today’s tech organizations, so your candidates’ skills should match each particular opening. But don’t over-focus on skills. There is much to be said for pure talent as well. Talent is what lets some employees easily learn new skills and move up the ladder.

Of course, for most employees, technical skills and a passion to master new technologies are critical.

Other skills and attributes include:

  • Problem solving ability
  • Ambition
  • Flexibility
  • Work ethic
  • Positivity

 5. Where to Look

With the internet and social media, there are such a plethora of places to post jobs it can be overwhelming.

There are other ways to attract talent. You could:

Hold an open house: This is a great way to put your company’s best foot forward and to meet candidates in a relaxed comfortable setting. The candidates, meanwhile, get to see your company closely and socialize with employees.

Go to events that pertain to your industry: There are often local events that cater to your industry. Go well stocked with business cards and pass them out freely.

Employee referrals: Technical types are often friends with other technical people. They also join peer groups where they meet others of like mind. Don’t be afraid to tap into this extended network.

Hire at the Bottom, Train and Raise them to the Top

While executive hires get most of the attention, your entire staff is important. When planning for the future, don’t neglect the farm team. When hiring for lower-level positions, imagine how these workers can grow in the future, and train them accordingly. As these workers develop, they’ll know your culture and appreciate the help you’ve given.

Posted by Doug Barney
Doug Barney was the founding editor of Redmond Magazine, Redmond Channel Partner, Redmond Developer News and Virtualization Review. Doug also served as Executive Editor of Network World, Editor in Chief of AmigaWorld, and Editor in Chief of Network Computing.
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