you don’t train them, and they stay? It’s not much wonder that
about one-half of IT staff are looking for a new IT job with a
new employer.v That’s because the average employer doesn’t
understand what skills and responsibilities the IT professional’s
job role requires, doesn’t know how to define a career path for
them and isn’t supporting training or education, despite the
fact that IT requires constant training and learning.
If this is the reality for most technology workers, why would
anyone work in IT? Well, why do marathon runners run? Because
they like it. IT professionals, despite what you may have heard,
are not all in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Most IT professionals love technology. They are more loyal to it than to you, their
employer, and they are looking for interesting challenges and the
chance to grow.
Five Tips to Recruit, Retain IT Professionals
(& Not Break the Bank)
1. Get to know IT job roles. “Geeks” come in all different flavors. Knowing what they do will help you define clear expectations and will help you understand why your great computer
fix-it guy has no interest in helping you with your database
development. Some resources to use for creating job role
descriptions and performance expectations include the Comp TIA
TechCareer Compass at http://tcc.comptia.org, O*Net at
http://online.onetcenter.org and Dice, an IT-only job board,
2. Create a career development track. Like anyone, IT pros
want to grow and to be engaged in meaningful work. Once
you understand the job roles and the skills required you are
better prepared to develop individuals by managing them
through subtle differences in responsibilities, e.g. the difference between administering, implementing and designing a system. Also, create a mentoring program and support
their membership in organizations like IEEE, CompTIA,
3. People or things? Know which track they are on. There are
two main development tracks in IT — managing technology
(engineering) or managing people (more traditional management role). There is a place for both kinds of techs in this
world. You will increase their chances of success if you understand and work with them to build on their individual strengths
along each of these lines.
4. Help them remain current and relevant by providing access
to training options. Consider the value of certification to
help individuals maintain currency and relevancy. Examples
include Microsoft’s MCSE, Comp TIA’s Security+, or Cisco CCNA.
Provide access to online reference and training resources such
as SkillSoft Books 24x7 ( http://books24x7.com) and Kaplan
IT ( http://www.kaplan.com/careeradvancement/computerit/).
Consider signing an employment agreement in return for subsidizing a job-related degree. Also, non-degree programs at
community colleges are an often overlooked resource. Community colleges are not just for college prep; many adult
learners also attend.
5. Make sure IT has a place at the big table. Is your IT leadership on board with your three-year business planning strategy?
Are they excited and have they bought into your vision? IT
can be your biggest advocate or foe when it comes to transforming your business processes. Tell them what you want
to do and why. If you don’t get them sold on the strategy,
you are asking for resentments to build up. Also, IT “magic”
requires a lot of research and testing. This is possibly the
No. 1 aspect of the IT job that business managers do not
understand. Employers must understand that IT professionals manage significant ambiguities every day. Acknowledge
that you respect them for their work and ideas — and
please remember to say, “thank you.”
i Hiring Hurdles: Robert Half Technology, 2008
ii Gauging the labor force effects of retiring baby-boomers: Arlene Dohm
iii Unleash the Business Potential of Your Technology Experts: Lake Forest Corporate
iv Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), 2008-09 Edition: U.S. Department of
v IT Pros: Maintaining Currency and Relevancy: Comp TIA, 2007
June Keszeg is a manager at SmithBucklin Corp. She may be reached at
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