For the past couple of years, everyone from CEOs to hiring managers and from thought leaders to government officials have been discussing the shortage of IT talent. Yet, few have focused on how IT job growth can help companies prepare for the future.
We’re all aware of the fact that technology is advancing with leaps and bounds—and it’s having an impact on everything from consumer habits to how businesses operate.
Consumers’ attitudes have changed considerably over the past two decades. People now demand instant, 24/7 access to services.
In addition, for better or for worse, many of us rely on social media for our news and information. One good review presented in an entertaining Vine can go viral and get hundreds of thousands of hits in a matter of hours. For example this one for Wendy’s, which got more than 888,900 loops.
On the other hand, a negative review can do the same, like Dave Carroll’s YouTube video of him performing a protest song after United Airlines refused to reimburse him for damaging his guitar during a flight. The video was viewed more than 12.5 million times—and United quickly reimbursed the singer.
When it comes to business operations, the development of cloud computing and sophisticated cyber security programs provides organizations with an infrastructure that’s not limited by brick-and-mortar constraints.
Smart machines automate processes from beginning to end, communicating with other computers via the Internet of Things (IoT). This results in less waste, better accuracy, and an improved bottom line.
The device mesh makes it possible for employees and business leaders alike to tap into their companies’ systems wherever they are, giving them instant access to the files and tools they need for their jobs.
Clearly, IT is a key factor in everything from shopping to order fulfillment to day-to-day operations.
What all of this means is that every company needs to be forward thinking when it comes to their talent acquisition strategies. IT talent already is, and will continue to be, a critical component of every organization’s successful functioning.
Competition for top IT talent with strategic skills, will therefore increase considerably over the next few years. As a result, employers need to prepare now to ensure they have the talent they need in-house for the foreseeable future.
In other words, they need to adopt a talent strategy that places IT talent acquisition front and center.
However, this is easier said than done.
One of the consequences of the rapid technological advances is the fact that it’s increasingly difficult to find talent who possess all the necessary skills and experience.
Let’s say you need to upgrade your online store and integrate it with an expanded customer portal that offers additional features and perks for customers who have an account with you. You also want to develop apps for both Android and iOS in order to provide a streamlined mobile experience.
In addition, you want to reduce the time it takes to fill orders, as well as the risk of errors such as spelling mistakes, wrong product deliveries, and billing issues.
In order to achieve all of this, you’ll need one or more IT professionals with in-depth knowledge of systems architecture, e-commerce, and security, as well as designing customized apps for iOS and Android.
You’ll also need talent who can automate the back end of the online store by creating a system that’s connected to the IoT to instantaneously check orders for accuracy, process them, and ensure they’re shipped.
What’s more: after designing and implementing the systems, you’ll need to keep IT professionals on staff to manage, maintain, and troubleshoot them.
Now, most employers in this situation start looking for candidates who possess all the necessary programming skills and systems knowledge. And that’s oftentimes where they stumble, because while it’s easy to find IT professionals with some of the skills, it’s almost impossible to find people with all of the requirements.
Of course, you can always hire multiple people to work together as a team—but what happens if you only have the budget for one new hire? Or if the talent is too expensive?
With a shortage of qualified IT professionals, the solution is for organizations to focus on hiring lean talent who can acquire the necessary skills on the job. In other words, they need to focus on IT job growth.
Here’s how to do this:
1. Look for high potential IT professionals who meet the basic job requirements and can learn the rest.
We’ve already established that it’s difficult to find candidates with all of the knowledge and experience you need.
Because they know the basics of coding through and through, they possess the ability to put their skills to work in new and challenging situations.
Perhaps most importantly, they’re hungry for more knowledge. They’re constantly learning new things either in their free time or while they’re working.
Then they apply the assimilated knowledge to come up with even better and more innovative solutions.
2. Make sure you hire people who are a good fit for the company culture.
Most bad hires fail because of a culture mismatch.
During the interview process, assess whether a candidate is a good fit for the company.
Consider aspects such as:
- preferred work style
- casual or formal
If you know what characteristics indicate a good hire for your company, then you can even use personality tests to predict whether someone will fit in or not.
3. Look for professionals who are good at creative problem solving.
Programmers and developers are by definition problem solvers—that’s what drives innovation.
Look for candidates whose résumé shows they possess creative problem solving abilities.
Examples include candidates who’ve created their own apps, but also people who’ve demonstrated these skills in other areas of work or life.
4. Get new talent to team up with experts.
IT job growth is a long-term solution—but if you need your new system designed and implemented yesterday, you don’t have time to develop lean talent.
In this kind of situation, you can outsource the immediate project to an organization with expertise in the area and arrange for your IT professionals to work with them.
Your people will not only learn how to use and manage the system, but also how to develop similar systems from scratch.
5. Know where to source IT talent with the potential for IT job growth.
High potential IT talent can include:
- high school graduates,
- college graduates,
- self-taught programmers,
- boot camp alumni,
- or underemployed professionals.
Many of these people participate in events like hackathons and coding challenges. You can also reach out to them via online groups and communities.
If you’re looking to quickly expand your workforce with a number of IT professionals with specific skills and expertise, using contingent workers can be a cost-effective solution.
You’ll have the talent you need when you need it—and not a moment longer.
And remember: contingent workers can also help train high potential talent so that moving forward, your company has the IT expertise it needs in-house at all times.