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IT Recruiting 101: An Executive Guide to IT Recruiting

IT Recruiting 101: An Executive Guide to IT Recruiting

Anxious about your staffing responsibilities? Questions answered here.

What are the most sought-after skills in IT today?

In order to respond to the increasingly complex demands of today's businesses, the information technology department, once almost entirely populated by skilled technologists, has morphed into a more flexible corps of business-savvy IT professionals. In filling more customer-facing roles, technical prowess (while far from obsolete) takes a back seat in many cases to skills like project management, business-process change or vendor management expertise.

According to Gartner, six out of 10 IT employees will assume business-facing roles by 2010. The shift in IT needs has meant increased demand for certain IT hires and a decrease for others. Then there are positions that require both technological sophistication and business savvy, like the increasingly popular enterprise architect.

The shift is represented in recent research from Foote Partners, which has been tracking a decline in pay for IT certifications along with a steady rise in pay for non-certified IT skills. According to CEO David Foote, that's because employers are desperate for workers who can get things done. “Technical skills are certainly part of the mix,” says Foote, but “being a desirable 'impact' worker means getting along with people, keeping an eye on IT's role in business execution and quickly delivering what customers want, which is a moving target.”

If this all sounds a bit fuzzy to you, you're not crazy. During a time of shifting roles and responsibilities (like now), everything is in flux — from titles to skill sets to pay. As a result, successful IT recruiting has become as much art as science.

Unfortunately, there's still a discrepancy between what CIOs say they want in their candidates and the skill sets of those they actually hire. Business capabilities and project management expertise represented eight of the top 10 skills identified as critical to keep in-house, according to a 2006 survey by the Society for Information Management (SIM). However, the majority of respondents primarily sought technical skills in entry-level recruits. IT leaders who have spent years looking for technical proficiency may have trouble adjusting their hiring practices to net candidates with business and the so-called “soft” skills.

If your hiring managers are still looking solely at IT certifications or programming language capabilities, it may be time to rethink those practices.

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