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Today’s Smoking Hot IT Talent Market: Find It, Keep It, Repeat

By - Source: Toms IT Pro
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Finding and keeping talented IT staff can be tough. Avoid generic job ads, for starters.

Credit: ShutterstockCredit: ShutterstockSo your business is taking off. That's good. But now you need to add a real IT staff. That's great, but now you have to find the right IT talent. That can be hard.

Avoid posting generic job ads, and start with your friends and colleagues. They can narrow your focus and speed the hiring process, said Peter Tsai, IT analyst at Spiceworks, a global community of IT experts.

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Tsai noted that while hiring managers can post ads on such employment websites as Indeed, Monster or Craigslist, the sheer volume of replies—many from unqualified applicants—makes the process very inefficient.  "It probably doesn't give you the highest success rate," he said.

Instead, start with an IT-savvy colleague or a friend at a large corporation with a big IT staff who can introduce you to an IT pro at his company. While you may not want to recruit that IT pro, his network of IT friends can be useful and he may be able to offer tips on where to start looking for the particular type of IT talent your company needs.

Another method is to attend conferences and networking events that attract IT pros, said Tsai. Even if you only run into people who are already happily employed, here again their network of friends seeking new jobs can be useful. Spiceworks, Tsai noted, sponsors the annual Spiceworld conference, which attracts hundreds of IT pros to Austin for three days of panels and networking.

Keeping the IT talent you've found is your next problem, said Tsai, since there's no shortage of well-paying opportunities. According to a survey by human resources services giant CareerBuilder and labor-data research firm Emsi, IT jobs grew 12 per cent from 2012 to 2016. This means IT talent won't come cheap and will always be able to move elsewhere. The takeaway: Be ready with an attractive salary-and-benefits package.

Even if your company's budget is tight, there's hope for keeping good talent when managers show interest in their IT professionals and appreciation for their contribution to the success of the company. "That can compensate for a lot of things," said Tsai.

A Spiceworks survey found that right behind the opportunity for advancement and a good salary, IT pros wanted to "work at a company that makes IT more of a priority" and recognizes that IT is important.

At the top of the list of "problematic IT tasks" in the Spiceworks survey was "making management understand the importance of IT priorities." Getting the point across in the interview process that your company is on the side of its IT staff can get an applicant to favor your company even when the compensation might be better elsewhere, Tsai said.

The Spiceworks survey, which polled about 500 IT professionals in the U.S. and Europe, found that 45 percent planned to start looking for or actually move to new positions within a year.

Offering prospective IT talent the ability to learn new skills is also important when recruiting, Tsai said. Supporting IT pros by paying their way to IT conferences keeps them happy and helps them stay up to date on new technologies, he said.

"IT professionals always have to keep learning if they want to stay competitive in the job market," Tsai said.

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