By: Connie Blaszczyk, Managing Editor, Resource Center
As the economy recovers and business picks up, the need for IT skills will continue to expand. The demand means that competition for IT skills and IT talent for both big and small companies will grow and evolve.
For small companies, says Judith Hurwitz, author of Smart or Lucky? How Technology Leaders Turn Chance into Success, that points to both challenges and advantage.
We spoke with Hurwitz about the post-recession IT recruitment landscape and how companies can compete for talent as part of their IT hiring.
Monster: What impact has the recession had on IT recruitment?
Hurwitz: The recession has had a major impact on IT jobs. But it isn’t what you might expect. There is actually a lack of resources in many areas of technology recruiting. I am seeing that individuals who have continued to upgrade their skills focused on what companies need are actually doing quite well. So, for example, developers who understand how to develop for the cloud or are focused on development for mobile applications are doing well.
Likewise, companies that are focused on enterprise architecture and customer-facing environments have great opportunities. Individuals who have not upgraded their IT skills are suffering in this economy.
Monster: Will there be sufficient talent to meet demand for IT skills as more and more companies recover and grow within IT recruiting?
Hurwitz: I think that there is a lack of talent to meet the demand of companies that are inventing new technology to meet emerging needs. I am constantly hearing from technology innovators that they are having trouble finding enough computer engineers. The good news is that students who used to focus only on Wall Street jobs are now looking at opportunities in the technology market.
Monster: The economic recovery will make it challenging for small businesses to retain their IT talent. How can they compete with larger firms to both retain and attract IT skills?
Hurwitz: While it is clear that small companies can be at a disadvantage in recruiting IT talent, they also have a strategic advantage. Many smart entrepreneurs like the idea of working for an emerging company where they can make a difference as an individual. In fact, smaller companies are a great way for a smart IT professional to move faster than they could at a large hierarchical organization.
Monster: Do smaller companies need to be prepared to offer a much higher pay scale for IT candidates than they might with other candidates?
Hurwitz: Small companies have to be prepared to compete for talent as part of their IT recruiting. A lot of what companies look for depends on how strategic IT is to their strategy and business. So, if the small company delivers its value online then it needs to pay a premium to hire the most sophisticated IT professionals. However, if IT is a back office function it may not be as important to look for the most expensive talent.
Monster: On average, do skilled IT employees tend to move from company to company more frequently than other employees?
Hurwitz: IT professionals do have a tendency to move around based primarily on the types of projects they want to work on. The smartest professionals like to be challenged and they like to be able to work on the most important emerging technologies. However, in a down market, you do see more IT professionals becoming more cautious about moving too much. That will change as the market picks up.
Monster: We’ve reported on the growing demand for hybrid candidates in IT recruiting -- employees who have both IT and business skills. Is this demand likely to increase in the next year or two?
Hurwitz: Employees that have skills in both IT and business have long been the most desirable to businesses. It is clear that as IT has become not just an enabling technology but part of the business strategy. Therefore, hybrid candidates are not just a nice to have but a requirement -- especially for professionals who want to increase their value and their salaries. I think this demand for IT and business skills will dramatically increase so that it is a prerequisite for success.
Monster: What type of IT skills are most in-demand by employers as we emerge from the recession in IT recruitment? How will these needs likely evolve as the economy grows stronger?
Hurwitz: The type of IT skills that are most needed are in several different areas. First, companies need developers that take a holistic perspective on technology. They do not simply know one programming language or one skill. They understand how to work with different platforms -- desktops, mobile, cloud -- to name a few. They have to understand information management, security, and integration. Most importantly, they need to manage the relationship between technology components from how it impacts the business.
Monster: Where will employers have to go to find the best IT talent in the recovery? How will these shifts impact global IT recruiting?
Hurwitz: There are different places to find the best IT talent. Increasingly companies will be looking across the globe for IT talent. In addition, companies need to be looking to colleges, not just for post-graduate recruiting.
Some of the most innovative companies are initiating programs in community colleges to create programs based on their future needs. In other cases, these companies are establishing partnerships with colleges and universities by offering the types of courses that will train future employees.
Monster: Could increased global demand significantly reset current employee compensation rates for IT talent?
Hurwitz: The fact that companies can reach out across the world for talent has had an impact on salaries. Therefore it’s more imperative than ever for IT workers to upgrade their skills based on the future, not the past.
Monster: Does managing an IT department require a different set of guidelines than those of other departments within the organization?
Hurwitz: There are differences between the IT department and other organizations. One of the key reasons for this is that technology changes and evolves at a much faster rate than most areas of business. With the growth of social business and social networking, for example, developers have to expand the reach of their technology offerings in new and unpredictable directions. Business strategy may evolve on a yearly basis -- but technology strategy can often force business to change in months.
Judith Hurwitz is author of Smart or Lucky? How Technology Leaders Turn Chance into Success. (Wiley, 2011) As President and CEO of Hurwitz Group, Inc., a strategy consulting and research firm focused on distributed computing technologies, Hurwitz has been a thought leader in the software industry for more than 25 years. She has been a computer journalist, computer industry analyst, strategy consultant, programmer and commentator. She is a highly sought-after consultant and has consulted for many of the established and emerging software companies in the market. In 1996, Business Week named her one of the top 100 women in the computer industry.