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Opinion: Skills search must be balanced by attracting talent

Australia has the some of the best technology talent in the world – so why are we still searching for skills?

The turbulent global economy has fundamentally changed the CIO’s role. A technology evangelist, innovator, operational expert and stakeholder manager are all part of the new CIO’s brief.

The drive for innovation to differentiate your proposition has never been so critical as competition for skills grows fiercer. According to the 2012 Harvey Nash CIO Survey, 39 per cent of Australian CIOs believe there is a technology skills shortage (compared to a global average of 48 per cent), which prevents their organisation from keeping up with the pace of change.

In reality, Australia has some of the best technology talent in the world. But recruiting talent is not the same as recruiting for skills. Some of the brightest and best talent in the world won’t find roles in a CIO’s department because they don’t have the exact ‘skills’ required – whether in experience, technologies, exposure or cultural differences.

Look to the burgeoning start-up space as an example of the talent we have to offer. Some of the brightest and best in Australia are creating new propositions because they’re not on the CIO’s radar.

If you can create a technology department, or better yet, an organisation which can attract and upskill talent, attrition levels will be minimised and your department will satisfy its own appetite for innovation. This will enable you to keep up with the pace of change and increase market share.

How can you get ahead and start attracting and maintaining the best talent? Here are some ideas:

  • Ensure you can articulate exactly who you are and what makes your department and organisation unique. Potential employees need to feel inspired and excited about joining your business.

  • Identify what your brand is as an employer and ensure it truly represents your working environment. If it needs improving, tackle it head on and take advice from your current employees.

  • Spread the word at events, networking and encouraging every person you meet to advocate your organisation to their connections.

  • Broaden your recruitment process because talent is everywhere and recruiting is a full time job. Consider making a recruiter you trust a true partner in finding you staff and start working more closely with HR to ensure a cohesive approach.

  • Start basing your interviews on personality, attitude and potential rather than a forensic examination of skills. You can teach skills but you can’t teach enthusiasm.

  • Be open to new ideas. If the talent in your organisation have fantastic ideas, they need to be able to voice and give shape to them. Regular face time with employees ensures you don’t miss the next big thing.

Bridget Gray is managing director at recruitment firm Harvey Nash Australia.

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