We have heard it before, and businesses of all sizes recognize the problem. There is not enough information technology talent to meet existing and growing demand in the United States.
Our colleges and universities are not graduating enough U.S. citizens with strong science degrees, computer science or otherwise. As a result, firms are struggling to hire full-time or contract staff for IT and engineering positions.
The Technology CEO Council, an advocacy group that includes the chiefs of Dell, EMC, Hewlett-Parkard, IBM, Intel and Sun Microsystems, in February called on the White House and Congress to grease the labor supply skids. Among their seven proposals for improving U.S. competitiveness were two related to the technology work force: increase funding to recruit and develop math teachers, and change immigration laws to make it easier for foreign IT professionals to work in the United States.
This is good new in the long run if Congress actually takes action on the recommendations, but what can you do in the short term to win the race for talent against your competition? There are several approaches and they all start with a change in mindset.
1. Hire strong talent and train it for the skills you need. Of course everyone wants the perfect candidate. It makes life easy. But in reality, it rarely exists. And expecting someone to do the same job at effectively the same pay, but just for a different manager will yield few results.
2. Be realistic regarding the primary skills required to be successful in a position. Truly define and recognize the minimal skills to be successful; not just the “wish list” of skills. Career growth is just as important to a newly minted graduate as it is to a seasoned professional. Show the candidate how you can help achieve some of his or her career goals with your firm.
3. Retain what you already have. Many companies seriously underestimate the impact that loss of knowledge has on an organization when employees leave. It can take years to recapture their knowledge and efficiency. Here are some things you can do effectively and immediately:
· Reward your existing staff for their loyalty and past efforts, perhaps through additional training they may have requested. Look the other way when they need a few hours off for personal responsibilities.
· Recognize your staff when appropriate. Do you have a small budget in place for staff recognition events? Be sincere with recognition.
· Know their true professional goals. Help them achieve their growth goals. Help them establish a career growth path.
Companies must be smarter about how they identify, attract and retain IT talent in today’s competitive environment.
THOMPSON is president/COO of The InSource Group. Contact him at JT@insourcegroup.com.
Reprinted with permission from the Dallas Business Journal. 2006, all rights reserved.
Reprinted by Scoop ReprintSource 1-800-767-3263.