IT hiring strategies: Our CIO readers talk soft skills, skimpy budgets

In our inaugural CIO Chatter, SearchCIO.com readers weigh in on staffing expert Melisa Bockrath's advice on IT hiring strategies in tough times.

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In a recent news piece, SearchCIO.com looked at new IT hiring strategies in the face of waning resources and budgets. Linda Tucci, SearchCIO.com's news director, sat down with Melisa Bockrath, an IT staffing expert at Troy, Mich.-based Kelly Services Inc., to discuss current stressors in IT hiring, including evolving technology strategies based around cloud computing, mobility and big data, heightened expectations for IT-business alignment...

and a dearth of IT talent in the marketplace.

To follow up, we asked our readers, "What is the biggest pressure on your IT hiring strategy?" We suggested that rapid technology change, elevated business expectations and a talent shortage were some of the biggest crunches, but wanted your comments, too. The responses suggest that there is no single, easy solution when it comes to developing an effective IT hiring strategies:

  • "CIO's are hung up on hiring cookie-cutter employees with specific skill sets. Give me a candidate with basic skills and a great work ethic, and I will train him/her to do the required work. You are simply NOT going to find Mr. or Ms. that fits your exact job requirements. This cookie-cutter mentality simply does not work. I see ads on CareerBuilder demanding skill set A, B, F, and K. Those jobs will go unfilled until companies wake up that very few IT professionals have the exact skill set you want. Find a good IT generalist, and teach them what they need to know to fit your requirements."
  • Find a good IT generalist, and teach them what they need to know to fit your requirements.
  • "Lack of funding or management support. Key issues in my environment concerning hiring."
  • "There should be a compromise between 'Adapt IT to Business Process' and 'Adapt business process to IT.' Both are parts of the same organization, which for its harmonization needs to have [a] fluctuation field where everything should be smart and flexible enough to adapt, acting as part of the same body. Where a body's first hand doesn't arrive, then a second hand, a foot or any other organ must run to help to complete the process. This should be automatic."
  • "Great points. In today's environment where specialized IT skills are in high demand, concurrent with the need to keep departmental costs down, working with cloud technologies allows IT departments to meet their goals for increased productivity in a cost-effective manner."
  • "I think the business expectations are one too many and finding a talent to match the same requirements [is difficult]. Also, business is expecting less cost to meet [these] requirements. This is likely to be the most important challenge as a CIO."
  • "Business expectations are high, but we can meet them if we can get sufficient talent onto the team. Unfortunately, that is increasingly difficult right now. We have a strong core, but are struggling to add to it."
  • "If you apply for a contract or a job, you have to fit their criteria exactly or else you are not considered. Employers want their employees/contractors to fit like a square peg in a square hole. If you don't fit exactly, you are not considered. Employers don't see the lack of talent. They still think it is an employer's market."
  • "The increase in new technology is dividing IT into smaller and smaller specializations resulting in serious skills gaps. We need a new way to identify the right staff based more on aptitude than already learnt skills."

Clearly, readers debate the importance of hard skills vs. soft skills in making a great hire. Tech departments are seeking staff with the requisite skill sets, but also want to make sure that prospects are good cultural fits for the organization. And then, there's the dreaded lack of funding, which many organizations must contend with nowadays. These restraints hinder firms in their efforts to secure -- and, in some cases, recognize -- top talent.

What's the biggest issue with hiring the right individuals in your IT organization? Do interviewees lack the skill sets you're seeking? Are you held back by budget woes? Do you strongly agree -- or disagree -- with any of the respondents above? Sound off about your IT hiring strategies in the comments section below.

Next Steps

Gloomy forecast for CIO budgets, tech hiring

Tech's hiring crunch: Outlook for 2013

This was first published in November 2012

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