Web 2.0 Tools Still Scarce in IT Recruiting

New steps are needed to attract entry-level IT workers and retain retirement-age staffers, but IT managers are slow to try Web 2.0 tools that could help.

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Mirror, Mirror

The use of Web 2.0 tools can help job hunters screen companies and vice versa. It starts with a well-designed Web site that enables potential employees to learn nearly everything about a company, including its ethics and culture which helps socially conscious job candidates make informed decisions about pursuing IT employment.

Other tools can help companies separate the likely hires from the rest. Wall Homes Inc., an Arlington, Texas-based home builder, typically receives thousands of hits for IT positions it places on recruitment sites like Monster.com, says CIO Andrew Brimberry. So his IT management team takes advantage of professional networking sites such as LinkedIn to locate and screen recruits on the basis of job skills, geography and academic background.

Companies such as HP that venture deeper into the world of Web 2.0 technologies may find themselves disappointed, at least initially. But despite the low turnout the Second Life trial balloon yielded, Smith is not deterred. She says she sees a lot of potential for using Second Life for recruiting. Gen Yers are so tech-savvy, we think its a great way to reach out where theyre already comfortable, says Smith. If we can find a way to add value, theyll think about HP as a company that thinks about them.

Of course, Web 2.0 is only one piece of the recruiting puzzle, says Casey. There is no company I have spoken to that has cracked the DaVinci Code of attraction, he says.

And new IT recruits are more difficult to land. In the Vital Signs survey, 27% of respondents said its tougher to recruit college graduates now than it was two years ago.

Complicating the challenge, some say, is that the current crop of newbies is different from previous generations in several respects. For instance, many twentysomethings are accustomed to receiving a lot of handholding and attaboys, says Adrian Gostick, co-author of The Carrot Principle (Free Press, 2007) and a consultant at O.C. Tanner Co., an employee recognition advisory firm in Salt Lake City.

The wants and needs of this new generation can induce managerial headaches for IT leaders who hire the wrong candidates. Weve cut the [IT] workforce down in the last 10 years to make them more efficient, says Neal Ganguly, CIO at CentraState Healthcare System, a Freehold, N.J.-based health care provider with a 32-person IT staff. One person who is too needy can drag the whole workforce down. We just cant afford that.

Gordon Gregory can relate. The vice president of technology at Mazuma Credit Union in Kansas City, Mo., says the company hired a few younger IT workers in recent years who didnt pan out. A couple of them were what Id call high maintenance they had high egos and needed a lot of attention, and they werent always adept at working with people and customers, he says.

More than previous generations, todays crop of younger IT workers also values, even expects, flexible work hours. They want to work when they want to work, but we still need them in at certain hours to work on teams, says M. Lewis Temares, CIO at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla.

To the extent that he can, Temares grants IT staffers flexible hours and equips them with home PCs and BlackBerries so they can do their jobs whenever and wherever theyre able. Theres no question youre going to get the returns back on these investments, he says.

And he does. Many younger workers on Temares 300-person IT staff put in an eight-hour day and then grind out another four hours overnight. In fact, the university now posts notices about server downtime at least a week in advance. You never know who needs what during the middle of the night, says Temares.

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