Focus on “quality” dominates IT jobs market

Q&A with David Weldon

The Aberdeen Group analyst discusses the ins and outs of getting hired.

What are you seeing with respect to IT hiring practices? If there’s an overriding theme in 2008, it’s the quality of hire.

Executives are finding they need to be a lot more diligent in screening applicants in terms of the skills they can bring to the job or that they can learn.

They’re looking for people who are a good fit: “We can train you so long as you fit well with our culture and the teams you’ll be involved with, thus making you more likely to stay.”

We hear mixed opinions from IT workers and hiring managers on the state of demand for IT professionals. What do you make of this? There are a couple of problems in matching skills. C

ompanies that are looking solely for skills should [look instead at] experience. For instance, what kinds of projects or work has the technologist done? [Similarly] job applicants should promote the top projects they’ve worked on to help the company address its bottom line or business needs.

Another problem is that IT job roles are antiquated. People learn a lot of new technologies and skills in their job roles, but they become victims of their job titles. If someone has an older title, they may be somewhat tainted in the job market.

Part of the problem as described by hiring managers is that many IT job applicants hype their skills. That’s a huge problem. You can present yourself as someone who has much higher qualifications in a Web development role. [It’s like that old cartoon] “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” But the proof is in the pudding.

What are some best practices in determining the cultural fit of an IT job applicant? A lot of that can be determined in the early stages of the candidate and employer communicating with each other — verbal, written and face to face. How engaging is the potential employee?

It’s very easy to grade a bunch of employees and assess them on their resumes.

But there’s a burden on the employer to say, “This is what we’re all about,” and, “This is what we expect if you are to work with us. These are the skills and qualities of the people here.”

Thomas Hoffman

Will Work for Gas Money …

It’s been a while since anyone saw gasoline selling for under $3 a gallon, and the price of fuel is beginning to have an effect on the hiring market.

How far would you be willing to travel to a job?

  • As far as public transportation will take me: 9 per cent
  • Within walking distance: 9 per cent
  • 10 miles: 37 per cent
  • 20 miles: 31 per cent
  • Over 20 miles: 15 per cent

Note: Percentages don’t add up to 100 because of rounding.

Source: SnagAJob.com online poll of more than 21,000 adults, February 2008

… Or Just Stay Home

Does a higher or lower proportion of your IT staff telecommute today compared with five years ago?

  • Telecommuting not offered: 51 per cent
  • Same proportion: 23 per cent
  • More telecommute now: 21 per cent
  • Fewer telecommute now: 3 per cent
  • Other/don’t know: 2 per cent

Which of the following attributes of telecommuting is the greatest benefit to your firm?

  • Improves retention and morale through enhanced work/life balance: 34 per cent
  • Increases productivity by reducing commute time: 28 per cent
  • Saves money by requiring less office space: 12 per cent
  • Allows hiring of employees in lower-cost-of-living areas who don’t require high salaries: 6 per cent
  • Other: 4 per cent
  • Don’t know: 16 per cent

Source: Robert Half Technology survey of 1,400 CIOs, July 2007

Page compiled by Jamie Eckle.

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