Back in March last year, I wrote about the inadequate recruiting practices of many organizations. It's becoming clear that as often as not the problem isn't so much the reputed skills-gap, but the barriers that organizations create for themselves.
In a front-page article, the Star Tribune's Adam Belz nailed it. Although the skills-gap exists within pockets of the American workforce, he wrote, corporate transitions have revealed that firms are slow to hire and manage the tech workers they need. Of course, many institutions are convinced, wrongly, that their approach can't possibly be wrong. It's no surprise that many consultants with relevant expertise are slow to speak to execs until the problem surfaces through corporate analysis or frustration. You learn after a while that many execs take their time about accepting expertise from the outside. Although I see less and less of the "not invented here" syndrome, it still exists in some corporations. Understanding how to recruit tech people is especially important when non-technology firms hired more than half of the 400,000 computer and math jobs created over the past five years. But, as my Minnesota friends would say, "there you go."
Belz did his homework. In a survey of more than 122 firms with 559 openings, he found that though organizations are quick to pin the problem on the shortage of people, more often that's not the problem. Indeed, survey responses found that firms are sticking to overly-specific job descriptions, pay too little, might have bad reputations for a place to work in IT, or plainly, don't know how to recruit.
Consultants in the know indicate that firms have antiquated thinking. They buy a new system and then rigidly look for someone with the specific skills of the software rather than considering someone who could quickly learn the necessary expertise. Implication? Firms lack understanding of the developer or the marketplace.
Some firms, one consultant said, also lack a strategic approach to consulting and spend their time filling out task tickets. Not too wise. But significantly, developers have little interest working for firms lacking a strategic orientation.
Still another piece of the problem, as I alluded above, is that major job growth is not in traditional technology and computer related firms, but in health care, transportation and warehousing, public administration and education.
Belz spoke to a number of mid-sized, non-software firms that are experiencing significant job growth in technology. Firms that are more successful in their recruiting of IT people look for those who know how to figure out programming and are quick learners.
What's all this mean? If you're an IT person, you're going to look for a firm that offers development opportunities, pays well and lacks rigid-specific recruiting expectations. Small and mid-sized firms better pay attention to the IT consulting headhunters. Many of them have their head screwed on right and can help companies recruit and train more effectively.