HR Strategies for Finding--and Keeping--IT Talent

Posted 02-27-2013 Print Email

Today, young IT pros aren’t checking job boards and submitting resumes. They’re hanging out at social media sites, waiting for employers to find them.

By Paul Hyman

Nearly one in four IT employers says it’s harder to find the right talent today compared to a year ago, especially in the areas of mobile app development and programming, data network, and data center. They expect it will become even more difficult as the economy recovers.

That’s according to a December, 2012 ManpowerGroup research report. And, says ManpowerGroup’s 2012 Talent Shortage Survey, IT is one of the top 10 job areas that employers are having difficulty filling in both the U.S. and globally.

So what’s a CIO to do?

According to four HR professionals who were willing to reveal some of their tricks of the trade for locating–and retaining–the best IT help, the employment scene has changed radically in just the past few years. Finding talented IT people, they say, no longer involves merely posting “help wanted” ads on your company’s website, Monster.com or Dice, and then sitting back and waiting for the resumes to flood in.

Today, savvy IT recruiters use social networking websites, like Entelo, Gild and TalentBin, in addition to LinkedIn, where IT professionals gather to share and learn from their colleagues, even to have their IT skills ranked by peers.

“Having access to those social search and engagement tools gives recruiters a special edge,” says Phil Hendrickson, manager of global talent sourcing strategy at Starbucks Coffee Co. “That’s where you’re able to gain social insights into talented professionals across their social graph, to understand what IT talent is doing, developing and sharing.”

Hendrickson explains the reason IT talent has gone into “stealth mode” is that, in the current “war for talent,” there is an abundance of companies seeking the same top skills.

“If you were to show up every day at work and get 10 calls from recruiters, you’d be flattered, but it might also get tiring,” Hendrickson says. “The talent is getting reached out to so often it’s almost as if they’re trying to disappear from sight. To find and engage in a meaningful way, you need to meet them where they are.”

At AT&T, Scott Smith, senior VP, human resources operations, explains the competition for talent is not only the result of the increasing need for technology experts, but also a decrease in the availability of U.S. workers with the required skills.

He calls the skills gap “alarming, especially since STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] jobs are projected to be growing by 17 percent compared to fewer than 10 percent for other professions. Over 2.8 million STEM job openings are predicted and many will go unfilled as candidates lack necessary technical skills, training or post-secondary degrees.”

Smith reports that, to find suitable talent, AT&T uses branding, advertising, professional organizations, events and sponsorships, and campus outreach, with a focus on the digital universe–both online and mobile. And the company will soon roll out a streamlined mobile version of its successful employee referral process.

He estimates that only about 30 percent of the IT population uses job boards, while 70 percent use search engines and social media to do their job search.

Smith says the AT&T Talent Network, which allows for relationship-based advertising, has become a top 10 source of applications and hires for the company. “Job seekers can opt in for additional information, and we provide regular updates about our company culture, community activities, innovation, and jobs,” he explains.



 

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