The right talent

The right talent

More effort is needed by CIOs to solve their skilled staff shortage problems. Most are still using outdated recruitment practices and old job requirements that do not address current needs.

Regardless of economic conditions, IT continues to struggle to find the right people to fill needed roles. Many IT departments still rely on traditional, reactive recruiting practices that fail to attract scarce talent away from the competition. Competition for skilled resources in IT organisations continues to intensify; however, most CIOs remain behind the curve in approaching this problem, using outdated recruitment practices and traditional job requirements that do not accurately address the job’s real needs. It is clear that more effort is needed by CIOs to solve their talent shortage problems.

New roles

New skills and roles are emerging in IT organisations that are proving difficult to fill, according to Gartner’s recently completed IT compensation survey. This study supports our 2008 CIO survey, which found that attracting and retaining IT personnel was the top concern for CIOs globally.

Only 27 per cent of CIOs worldwide believe that they have the right number of skilled people to meet business needs, and the problem is slightly more acute in Asia. The same survey revealed that more than 50 per cent of CIOs believe that they are going to have difficulty achieving their future business goals due to a lack of talent.

Lack of attention

Too often, IT organisations fail to dedicate sufficient time and attention to recruitment. Success hinges on making IT recruitment a top priority. That means investing time, nurturing a talent pool, hiring ahead of the curve (versus on an ad hoc basis) and creating a story to “sell” the enterprise to candidates.

Personal CIO involvement in IT recruiting correlates directly with organisations’ ability to attract top talent. Further, there is no middle ground with regard to human resource (HR): either HR is a powerful ally and accelerator in recruitment, or it is a constraining factor in the IT recruitment process.

Partnership with HR

CIOs must develop a productive partnership with their HR organisation for maximum success. Where this is not possible, CIOs will be forced to create parallel HR processes inside IT to fulfil the HR role.

The war for talent is not exclusive to IT. As a result, there are opportunities to pool efforts with other executives to address enterprise-wide talent gaps. The ageing population and fewer qualified younger employees will stress existing recruitment processes across the enterprise. CIOs may have an opportunity to lead this effort by applying the four Ps of marketing—product, placement, promotion and price—to recruitment. This means:

Use a candidate-led marketing approach to win the war for talent

  • To attract candidates, market the job as you would a product
  • Place the job where candidates will see it
  • Promote the job in a compelling way
  • Price the job right, with a combination of hard and soft rewards

To solve their talent problems, CIOs must be more proactive and ready to adopt new techniques. This requires a personal investment by the CIO. CIOs and their teams should adopt a candidate-friendly approach, tailoring their recruitment approach for specific roles.

Once successfully deployed, these efforts can be shared with human resources and implemented throughout the enterprise.

The secret to finding great talent is sensitivity to candidate needs and aggressive marketing of positions throughout the recruitment process. This entails developing high-potential employees, dismissing low performers and recruiting creatively.

Mary Mesaglio is a research director with Gartner’s CIO research team.

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