Talent Wars

Competitors -- and now cloud providers -- are poaching your best IT staffers and job candidates.

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A surge in corporate use of social media, mobile tools and cloud technologies, coupled with loosening IT purse strings and pent-up demand for IT-based business projects, are all big factors driving the escalation in need for IT talent -- and the related escalation in competition for that talent. The shrinking size of the pool of qualified college graduates and the ever-expanding surge of baby boomer retirements are also key contributors.

Earlier this year, 48% of CIOs said it is very or somewhat challenging to find the skilled IT professionals they need, according to the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report.

"The reality is that as technology pervades every aspect of personal and professional life, the need for technical talent is huge," says Shawn Banerji, managing director of IT recruiting company Russell Reynolds in New York. "People on the service provider side are looking to hire, and traditional corporate IT departments are also looking to hire. There is absolutely a war for talent."

Wanted: Deep Experience

But it's not just any IT professionals they're after. What most companies want are IT people with experience in newer technologies they're looking to deploy or those with very deep technology and business experience in a particular industry. Experience with developing mobile and social media applications, using newer programming languages like Ruby, and deep integration skills for linking on-premises computing systems to cloud-based services are at the top of recruiters' wish lists.

Harris' Patel, for example, says the application development openings he has are for highly experienced professionals. "For these positions, which are for new projects, we need people with five to 10 years' experience. They are not positions for new graduates," he says. "It has been very difficult to fill them."

Guardian Life Insurance in New York recently conducted an IT workforce assessment and found that 35% of its IT staffers are over 55 years old. "Almost half [of our] IT workforce will be eligible for retirement in 10 years," says CIO Frank Wander. "It's staggering. These are our most experienced people."

What Guardian is looking for, he says, are young IT professionals to whom extremely high-value senior IT employees can pass on their experience and knowledge about Guardian's business and processes (see sidebar). On the technology front, Guardian -- like just about every other company that's hiring for IT -- needs professionals with data modeling and design skills and mobile application skills. The insurer is also seeking IT workers with data center consolidation experience.

"Fifty percent of Fortune 500 companies will be modernizing their a href="http://www.computerworld.com/s/topic/154/Data+Center">data centers over the next five years. The reason is that devices are becoming more powerful. They take up less space and need less electricity," Wander notes. "We're doing a data center modernization and consolidation initiative, and we want people who have been through this. It's very hard to get. It's one of the hottest areas."

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