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IT Positions are "Hard to Fill"

In a Forbes.com article (The 10 Hardest Jobs in America to Fill – May 29, 2012), IT positions were cited as one of the hardest to fill positions in America.  While this news is probably not shocking to leaders in the IT industry, it is important to understand and react to deeper market conditions.
 
Recently, an IT leader from a respected pharmaceutical firm complained that he had four open positions for developers.  Despite everyone’s best efforts, he said they simply could not get the positions filled and when they did fill a position, the candidates often left after a short tenure, some returning to their former employers.  
 
In the Forbes.com article, issues such as lack of applicants, lack of experienced applicants and lack of pay are cited as some of the top reasons for the hiring challenges.  Specific to the IT sector, owners, executives and leaders need to take a step back to evaluate relevant solutions to the hiring challenges they are facing.  
 
While the nation faces over 7% unemployment, consistently, the IT sector has been producing near “full employment” statistics.  As such, companies facing critical needs for IT talent need to evaluate the following:
 
  • Are your recruiting processes focused on active job seekers or passive job seekers?  Active job seekers are either unemployed or have visibly made themselves available to the job market.  Passive job seekers are those people who may be content in their current role, but given the right opportunity for career growth, would entertain a new position.  With sub 5% unemployment in the IT sector, recruiting processes must be focused on the passive job seeker, as that is the group where 95%+ of your perspective employees are found.   
  • Is your company culture and work environment appealing to a broad range of perspective employees?  While work environment and culture have always been important to employees, the importance if these “intangibles” has grown as generation Y continues to represent a greater percentage of the workforce.  Words like “comfortable,” “fun,” “flexible” and “freedom” are workplace descriptors commonly being used by today’s workers, not just your “Gen Y” employees.  If you want the skills and experience of “Gen Y” employees, your organization must appeal to their priorities.
  • Are your compensation and benefits plans competitive?  Looking at base pay, performance bonuses, growth opportunities, insurance plans, retirement plans, company holidays, paid time off and many other categories, your organization must be average or above average to attract and retain IT talent.  Perspective employees are resisting jobs that entail a daily 30 minute commute for average compensation and average benefits; instead, these perspective employees are accepting positions that allow them to work from home, maintain a flexible schedule, pay above average wages, offer exceptional and affordable insurance benefits for the entire family, give them as many holidays as the post office, and 4 weeks of paid time off each year.   
 
Right now, the IT sector is a candidate’s market.  In order to attract and retain the best employees, companies must be willing to “look in the mirror” to see how they can be the more attractive employer in what is a very competitive marketplace.

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