8 New Weapons to Fight the Talent Wars in '08

Luring hot prospects will require creative approaches in the coming year.

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5. The Anywhere Workplace. The concept of going to the office certainly hasn't disappeared altogether, but the "where" and "when" of IT work are undergoing some fundamental changes. "It used to be that you 'went' to work everyday, coded away and then went home," says Worrall.

But today's twentysomethings expect to be able "to connect to work from a laptop on a train or at the beach," he says. And employers are more apt to accommodate them -- to a degree.

"We provide [IT] staff with flexible work hours and laptops, BlackBerries and other devices to help them do their jobs remotely," says M. Lewis Temares, vice president and CIO at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. "But we still need them to be on campus at various times to support the university's services."

6. Business Vision. "The tenor of the job announcement has changed," says Robert Rosen, immediate past president of Share, a Chicago-based IBM users group, and CIO at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases in Bethesda, Md. "There's much less emphasis on technical skills and more demand for people who can help add value to the business." Of course, IT hiring managers remain hungry for people with strong technical abilities, particularly hot development skills such as .Net, PHP and J2EE expertise. But it's even tougher to find IT professionals with business savvy or experience managing relationships with business units, says Craig Urrizola, CIO at Saladino's Inc., a Fresno, Calif.-based food distributor.

7. Pumped Up Paychecks. OK, this one isn't new. But as part of the whole supply-and-demand continuum, it's an old weapon that's back.

With fewer qualified IT professionals available, particularly in hot markets such as Silicon Valley, companies are doling out bigger offers. For example, Intermedia's offers to new employees in the San Francisco Bay Area are 20% higher than they were a year ago, says Gomes.

8. Imagination. Compensation continues to be the biggest factor in the recruitment and retention of IT professionals, but perks such as the option of telecommuting, flexible work hours and opportunities to work for socially-conscious organizations are top-of-mind for many younger IT workers. And sometimes an imaginative approach can make the difference between snagging top talent and losing it to the big bucks.

For instance, IT professionals who work at the National Aquarium in Baltimore typically earn 15% to 30% less than peers who work elsewhere in the city, says Hans Keller, chief technology officer at the aquarium. But he tries to offset that with other perks. One of his network engineers spent two weeks on a research trip on the Amazon River last January. Other perks are closer to home. "I have two people on my staff who dive into the tanks and feed stingrays every other month," Keller says. "That's not a typical assignment for a systems developer."

Forecast 2008: IT Trends & Predictions for the New Year

How'd we do in '07?  See last year's Forecast 2007.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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