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Feeling the strain from the IT talent shortage?

May 08, 2014

IT recruiting agents know that this is a competitive time to fill information technology roles. Companies are expanding their technology projects at a time when there aren't enough qualified professionals to satisfy the demand for talent. Consequently, many need to hone their hiring strategies and consider new ways to gain the support they require.

If your organization is coming up short while seeking IT experts, here are a few strategies that other information technology companies and departments are using to flesh out their teams:

1. Facilitate remote working arrangements 
Telecommuting is becoming an increasingly attractive—and common—option, especially with the advancement of technology such as better WiFi access, Web-based enterprise applications and robust online meeting tools. For companies with IT jobs to fill, offering remote working arrangements might draw the interest of professionals who want to tailor their schedules according to their preferences and family considerations, or who live far away and don't want to relocate. Facilitating these options could expand your applicant pool simply because you don't require workers to live within a certain distance of your office.

Whether your employees are interested in working remotely all the time or only as an intermittent alternative, you do need to ensure that a few resources are in place so they can be productive and engaged. For example, consider implementing the following tools:

  • Mobile enterprise applications
  • WiFi or broadband capabilities in workers' homes
  • Videoconferencing or online meeting programs

Additionally, managers must take extra care to ensure remote workers are aware of their responsibilities and reach out to them to make certain they feel connected to the team. For employees who don't live an extraordinarily long distance away, it can also help to include telecommuters in company events and campaigns so they are more deeply integrated into the company community.

2. Hire the "contingent IT workforce" 
Another option for a more flexible workforce is to hire temporary, contract and freelance workers rather than focusing entirely on full-time, permanent staff. This is a particularly useful approach for developing sufficient IT resources for projects that require more help or specific expertise than your average day-to-day operations. TEKsystems research found organizations are increasingly turning to this strategy, with many expecting that contingent labor will amount to up to a quarter of their total IT workforce by 2018, and 69 percent indicating these workers are critical to their businesses's success.

To hire and onboard contingent workers effectively, companies must develop strong processes and procedures. Currently, many enterprises are failing to see the performance and outcomes they expected. A strategic approach includes the following elements:

  • Understand the motivations of contingent workers. Many choose temporary situations because they desire greater flexibility or want to learn new skills. Learning about additional motivations can be helpful in determining whether candidates are a good fit for open positions.
  • Set clear goals for both individuals and teams. Additions to IT teams often lack the information they need to tackle their tasks efficiently and successfully.
  • Establish off-boarding procedures. After a project or contract period has come to an end, contingent workers should be debriefed so they can transfer the necessary knowledge to other team members.

3. Reach out to women IT professionals 
Although there's a notable shortage of women in the IT industry, making efforts to rectify this issue could also help companies fill their IT career opportunities. CIO Magazine asserted that increasing the percentage of women in the field from 11 percent to 22 percent would solve the IT staffing problem. While your organization might not be able to inspire a flood of female tech experts, there are a few steps you can take to attract more women among your IT ranks.

In addition to making the company culture and workplace dynamics welcoming to women, especially on teams traditionally dominated by men, you might want to consider trying one of these strategies:

  • Include women on interview panels and boards. This can make female candidates feel more welcome and bring an additional perspective to hiring teams.
  • Support IT educational programs aimed at encouraging girls and establish internships. CIO Magazine noted that this can also create a "women-friendly atmosphere" at your organization, in addition to serving a long-term purpose.
  • Create mentoring programs for women within your company. Women in the tech field are often left behind because their male counterparts are more likely to help men advance in their careers.
  • Write a job description that's attractive to women. The source explained that listing specific skill sets can skew the applicant pool in favor of men because guys are likely to apply if they have any of the skills on the list, whereas women hesitate unless they can check off all of them. You should focus on outcomes instead, the source added.

Overall, by reaching out to non-traditional workers, companies can broaden their candidate pool and increase their changes of finding the right talent.

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