Firms wrestle with IT leadership gaps, 'mercenary' job seekers

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Most 2018 forecasts had predicted only modest gains for IT budgets, yet many organizations have had a strong need to hire for certain software, security and data science roles, among others.

So how are limited IT budgets impacting the challenge of finding skilled workers in these key areas? Information Management asked members of the Society for Information Management (SIM) to share their recruiting experiences. Members revealed which technology-related job roles are the hardest to fill, and what the impact is on their recruiting, compensation and benefit strategies.

The Society for Information Management is the world’s premier organization for IT leaders, including CIOs, senior IT executives, prominent academicians, consultants and other IT leaders. Today, SIM is comprised of nearly 5,000 members who come together to share, network and give back to their communities through the collaboration of SIM’s 42 local chapters.

Here is what members had to say of their recruiting challenges for most-wanted IT, security and data science professionals:

Casting a wider net, with higher pay incentives

“The roles we are having most difficulty in filling are business analysts and anything security related,” reveals Phillip Volltrauer, director of IT at Affiliated Monitoring.

“These roles seem to be extremely in-demand, and the available pool of employees isn't as large as in other roles. As a result, our recruiting efforts require much broader job descriptions and we've had to offer more competitive compensation packages,” Volltrauer says.

The legacy of legacy system hiring woes

"While the search for cybersecurity roles can be competitive and challenging, my greatest challenge has been finding people who can support our legacy environments in the short term,” says Mike Huthwaite, chief information officer at Redcoats Family of Companies.

“Recently one of my server engineers retired, and one of his responsibilities was as our AS400 operator. While our long term plan is to migrate off the AS400 platform, that is a 3-year initiative and finding resources with the skills to manage those legacy systems is taking a toll,” Huthwaite says.

“We are finding that most of the talent pool available isn't looking for a full time role, they want the freedom to work as mercenaries. I'm not sure we have perfected a strategy to solve the challenge," Huthwaite says.

Greater need for IT and data pros on-demand

“We are seeing more companies leverage gig workers and independent consultants to bridge the gap between cost and talent scarcity. Some of the best technology talent can only be found in these communities,” says Terri Gallagher, president and CEO at Gallagher and Consultants.

“There are dozens of on-line and digital workforce talent technology platforms that serve as the delivery system making it easier for companies to source, onboard, and pay these highly skilled resources on an on-demand basis,” Gallagher says.

Greatest skills gap is in IT leadership

“While I do have an opinion on the subject, it is from a different viewpoint,” notes Mikhail Papovsky, president and founder at Abraic, Inc. “While I have been a SIM member for years, right now I head up a service practice focused on IT. As service providers, we keep a close eye on skillset requirements from IT departments. Let me share with you what we are seeing:

“While IT budgets may not be growing much, we are seeing an increase in the number of technologies and projects that each IT department has to juggle. Navigating through all those conflicting technologies and projects is the biggest challenge in IT today,” Papovsky says.

“The biggest shortage of talent in IT doesn’t seem to be as much in specific hands-on skill, but in leadership capacity, such as project managers, program managers, scrum masters, change agents, coaches, etc. This trend is bound to continue for a while as digital programs take over most organizations,” Papovsky concludes.

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