Winning the War for Talent


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Winning the War for Talent

  1. 1. Winning theWar for Talent by John ReedAny hiring manager who has tried to recruit help desk or technical are confident in their companies’ growthsupport professionals in recent months knows the demand for top prospects in the first quarter of 2012. Of course, growth means more investmenttalent is high. One major reason is that many of the best workers simply in IT—and thus, higher demand for ITare not on the market. The unemployment rate for computer support support. Not surprisingly, the Bureau ofspecialists was only 6.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, well Labor Statistics projects employment ofbelow the national average. And in a survey of more than 1,600 CIOs, computer support specialists to increase46 percent said desktop support topped the list of the most in-demand by 14 percent between 2008 and 2018, a pace that is faster than the average fortechnical skills. all occupations.Given that many companies are expanding their operations, competition for help desk Given these trends, it is easy to see whyprofessionals will only intensify. Eighty-eight percent of CIOs surveyed for Robert Half both hiring and retaining talented helpTechnology’s most recent IT Hiring Index and Skills Report ( said they desk and technical support professionals14 Suppor tWorld | March/April 2012
  2. 2. are becoming increasingly challenging endeavors. The followingare some strategies to help your company gain an edge in the warfor skilled technical and desktop support professionals. How Job Seekers Can Speed Up the Hiring ProcessPay IT Staff Competitively While you may not be doing anything “wrong” in yourWhile money is not always the most important factor for job employment search, you may be overlooking some importantcandidates, talented professionals may consider other opportunities steps. Here are some tips to help increase your chances ofif their compensation is not appropriate. Re-examine the salaries being invited to an interview and securing a job offer for key positions to verify they are in line with whatcompetitors are paying for the same roles.Resources like the Robert Half Technology 2012 Salary Guide Reassess Your Résumé( and 2011 HDI Salary Report Your résumé should be up-to-date. Delete old, irrelevant skills( can provide insights or jobs. For instance, you do not need to say that you workedon current and upcoming compensation trends. Our research as a waiter in college if you are applying for a mid-level helpindicates that average starting salaries for all technical services, desk position. Also, make sure your job application materialshelp desk, and technical support roles will increase in the year underscore the skills, talents, and credentials that make youahead. For example, according to the Robert Half Technology 2012 most marketable and valuable as an IT candidate. Instead ofSalary Guide, employers will need to pay more in 2012 to recruit the traditional objective statement, many candidates today useIT professionals for the following roles: a brief summary that succinctly highlights their most relevant, • Systems Administrator: $59,000 to $81,750, an increase notable qualifications and accomplishments. This approach of 5.8 percent over 2011 levels can help give busy hiring managers a snapshot view of what is most important to know about you as an IT professional. • Systems Engineer: $68,750 to $87,500, an increase of 5.8 percent over 2011 levels • Tier 3 Help Desk: $57,500 to $75,250, an increase of 4.5 Network, Network, Network percent over 2011 levels The strength of your professional network can have aSimilarly, if current staff members’ salaries are not in line with the significant impact on the success of your job search. So if youmarketplace, they may look elsewhere. Check online salary surveys have only a few contacts in your network—or keep in touchto make sure the compensation you are offering is appropriate. primarily with peers who are also in the market for IT roles— it is time to raise your visibility and meet new people whoTrumpet Your Company’s Strengths can help you make the right connections. Use social mediaHave you also thought about whether you are doing enough to sites like LinkedIn or Twitter to regularly engage with those inunderscore what makes your company a great place to work? For your network by sharing relevant information, contributing toexample, maybe your organization strongly emphasizes work/life conversations, and commenting on others’ posts, tweets, andbalance, allows IT professionals to use cutting-edge technology, or updates. But remember to take advantage of opportunities inoffers reimbursement for job-related educational expenses. Perhaps the “real world,” too.your business is admired for its socially responsible activities orhas an outstanding employee cafeteria. Whatever your company’sbest attributes may be, highlight them in your recruiting materials Seek Professional Guidanceand your firm’s intranet or employee newsletter. This can help your Re-energize your job search process by seeking the advice offirm attract new talent while also reminding current employees a career coach or professional recruiter. A career coach canwhy they made a smart choice by joining—and remaining with— provide encouragement and advice for clarifying professionalthe organization. goals. A specialized recruiter can offer similar guidance, and help you find IT project positions. Interim work arrangementsMake Professional Growth a Priority can help you earn income—and keep your skills fresh—whileDuring the recession, many employers put professional you continue to seek full-time employment.development programs on hold due to budget constraints. ButIT professionals in particular like to expand their knowledge and Even in a hot field like IT, it can take time to find the rightskills and explore new technologies. That is why offering such job. The hiring landscape is crowded, and many firms haveopportunities can be a powerful retention and recruiting tool. extended the recruitment process to avoid bad hires. However,The good news is that professional development efforts do not by fine-tuning your résumé, expanding your professionalhave to be expensive. Cost-effective options include providing network strategically, and seeking advice from reputable careerchallenging assignments and project leadership roles, connecting consultants, you can likely shorten the wait until your nextstaff with mentors, and crosstraining. If you have the budget to do interview—and, more importantly, your next job, enroll top-performing employees in eLearning courses. | A Professional Journal for the IT Service and Technical Support Community 15
  3. 3. Another tip: If you do offer these opportunities to your IT staff, result in a landslide of résumés from unqualified applicants.make sure you also give them the time and resources necessary They also can inadvertently convince talented candidates thatto take full advantage of them. they should not bother to apply for the position.Promote Autonomy and Teamwork Focus on “must-have” requirements, including education levels and professional credentials, such as the HDI CustomerMost IT workers today place a premium on autonomy and the Service Representative certification or the Microsoft Certifiedability to make decisions themselves. So cultivating a work Systems Engineer designation. And do not overlook otherenvironment where help desk and technical support personnel attributes a candidate will need to excel in the role and in yourare empowered to develop their own solutions to problems organization—for example, strong interpersonal skills. Thecontributes to recruitment and retention. Robert Half Technology 2012 Salary Guide, the 2011 HDI SupportAt the same time, encourage a collegial atmosphere, where staff Center Practices & Salary Report, and the 2011 HDI Desktopmembers can share ideas and opinions and collaborate with others Support Practices & Salary Report include sample job descriptionsto strategize, solve problems, and achieve objectives. This not for IT support professionals that can serve as useful models.only builds trust and camaraderie across a team, it also promotesknowledge sharing that can help everyone perform better Recruiting and Retaining Talent throughand, therefore, feel more confident in their roles. For example, Flexible Staffingwhen a technical support professional successfully resolves a Many leading employers are finding that the staffing strategy theyparticularly challenging issue, have her share any insights gained used to weather the recession is now helping them recruit andthrough this experience so colleagues can apply that knowledge retain skilled IT talent: flexible staffing. The use of both interimto address similar problems in the future. and full-time employees enables you to staff up or down quickly and cost-effectively as business needs fluctuate, and reduces theMake It Easier for Talent to Find You burden on core staff when workloads spike. It also provides anCreating realistic and accurate job descriptions also plays a key opportunity to evaluate potential full-time candidates.role in attracting highly qualified help desk and technical support Working closely with interim personnel for an extended periodspecialists to your firm. Vague or outdated descriptions can or through repeat engagements allows you to assess a potential16 Suppor tWorld | March/April 2012
  4. 4. hire’s ability to collaborate effectively with existing staff and Every professional wants to be commended for a job wellsucceed in the prevailing corporate culture. Being able to place done. If staff members believe their contributions are valuedpeople already familiar with the company culture and specific and truly make a difference, they’ll be more inclined to stay withjob responsibilities and expectations means you may not need your expend valuable resources on a broader candidate search.You also may be able to reduce onboarding and training costs. To emerge as a winner in the war for talent, your businessA recent survey of CIOs revealed that technical support teams will need to work hard to locate and hold on to the most skilledare often understaffed, by an average of 42 percent. By using and experienced help desk and technical support professionalsflexible staffing to ease the burden on core help desk and available. If you do not act now, you risk allowing competitorstechnical support specialists, you can enhance retention efforts. to recruit your top talent, leaving you without the resourcesFurthermore, maintaining a positive work/life balance is a your business needs to succeed in the mission-critical campaignspriority for many professionals today, so the need to engage that lie ahead.additional support to help stave off burnout is especially clear. About the AuthorDon’t Take IT Talent for Granted John Reed is the executive director of Robert HalfRemember, your own employees are fair game in a market Technology, a leading specialized-staffing firmwhere the demand for skilled help desk and technical support that places IT professionals on a project and full-specialists is higher than the supply. Turnover can be costly time basis. John has an extensive background infor your firm. Aside from lost productivity, losing critical IT both IT and staffing, including twelve years in IT product sales and eleven years in the staffingsupport and skills just when the organization is ready to expand industry. He is a frequently quoted expert onor embark on critical new technology initiatives can be a difficult employment trends in the IT field, and he issetback to recover from. This is why it is critical to be proactive involved with several professional organizations,about letting talented individuals, whether new hires or longtime including the Association of IT Professionals and HDI. John received hisemployees, know how much they are valued. BA in public affairs and administration from the University of Oklahoma. Save up to $700 when you register by May 4, 2012 { Discounts: Super Savings – $400 (ends May 4, 2012) Early Bird – $200 (ends June 22, 2012) Member – $200 Alumni – $100 } | A Professional Journal for the IT Service and Technical Support Community 17