Top 5 Ways to Bridge the Talent Gap

Top 5 Ways to Bridge the Talent Gap

The current economy is driven by science and technology, and because of this more and more businesses need IT professionals to help keep their organization adaptive to the newest innovations.
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Unfortunately, building a workforce with skilled IT professionals is easier said than done. It’s no secret that the tech industry has been suffering from a talent shortage, but according to a recent survey conducted by IT outsourcer Harvey Nash and auditing firm KPMG, it may be worse than you think.

3,000 technology leaders were questioned for their annual CIO survey, and when asked if IT hiring challenges were hurting the industry, a surprising 65% responded yes. This is a 6% rise from last year when only 59% believed that the shortage was hurting the industry.

So, how can CIOs bridge this talent gap?

Top 5 Ways to Bridge the Talent Gap

1. Determine Your Business’ Needs

Every business’ talent gap is different. While one company may need a qualified data analytics expert, another company may not. Determine what skill set you need to fill your team.

What kind of IT staff does your organization currently need?

Look ahead: what kind of IT staff will your organization need in the future?

Don’t simply think about now, make sure you have enough IT professional to fill the skill set you need for the future. Where do you want your company to be next month? Next year? Decide what your future goals are and determine the skill set you will need to make this happen.

2. How Big is Your Gap?

Once you’ve determined your business’ IT skill set requirements, it’s time to figure out where the gaps are in your team. Do your employees have all of the skills necessary to your business for future growth? Are there holes you need to fill?

To find out what gaps you have in your workforce, a skills analysis is a great tool. With this tool you will be able to see your teams strengths and weaknesses. This is not only a great tool for CIOs but for IT professionals as well. A skills analysis helps to let employees know what the companies goals are and what skill sets are needed to achieve them.

A skills analysis when done properly, and well before your direly need a certain skillset, is a good way to help your current employees succeed.

3. Set Up Training Programs

Thanks to the skills analysis, rather than trying to find a new employee with the perfect skill set you will have the time to train your current team for the skill sets you will need in the future.

With the IT talent shortage it’s more important than ever to do all you can to retain your current talent. By offering learning programs to your current employees, you not only help fill the skill gaps in your workforce, but are investing in the futures of your employees. This investment is crucial to talent retention.

4. Allow For Growth

One thing that IT professionals note as being important to job satisfaction is the ability for growth within their company. Examples of employee growth within a company would be mentorships, skill training, and ensuring there are opportunities for advancement within the company.

Retaining talent and being enticing to new talent relies heavily on creating an environment that allows IT professionals to remain relevant and marketable by growing their skill sets.

5. Help Cultivate the Next Generation

Simply having your own house in order doesn’t mean there isn’t still a talent gap problem. A great way to do your part in truly closing the talent gap is by helping to shape the next generation of talent.

A few ways you can do this is by joining a local school board to influence the schools curriculum, exposing students to the latest trends and technology, and offering internships or part time employment to high school students to ignite their interest in the industry.

How are you bridging the talent gap in your organization? Let us know in the comments below.

Depression in IT and Habits that Can Help Make You Happier Proven by Neuroscience

Depression in IT and Habits that Can Help Make You Happier Proven by Neuroscience

Depression is a serious condition that affects approximately 19 million Americans. That’s 9.5% of the population. IT professionals are far from exempt from this sometimes crippling condition. Between long hours alone at a desk, and sometimes impossible due dates, some IT professionals can easily start to feel overwhelmed.
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The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time by UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb may have some insights that can swing the momentum from a downward spiral into an upward climb.

Here are 4 habits you can implement in your life to help with depression:

Ask Yourself What You’re Grateful For

The Science:The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine… [Additionally,] trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex.” – The Upward Spiral

The antidepressant Wellbutrin boosts dopamine, and Prozac (also an antidepressant) is taken to boost the neurotransmitter serotonin. If simply starting a gratitude journal can also help with dopamine and serotonin, why not try? Of course we don’t recommend quitting any of your prescriptions, but starting a gratitude journal, or just taking a little time out of your day to think about what you’re grateful for, can go a long way.

Determine, Concretely, the Emotion You’re Feeling

The Science: “…in one fMRI study, appropriately titled “Putting Feelings into Words” participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Predictably, each participant’s amygdala activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.” – The Upward Spiral

This shows that rather than suppressing the emotions you are feeling, you should seek to describe them. The act of determining what emotion your feeling can actually help to reduce that particular emotion.

Make a Decision

The Science: Making decisions includes creating intentions and setting goals — all three are part of the same neural circuitry and engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety. Making decisions also helps overcome striatum activity, which usually pulls you toward negative impulses and routines. Finally, making decisions changes your perception of the world — finding solutions to your problems and calming the limbic system… [Additionally] actively choosing caused changes in attention circuits and in how the participants felt about the action, and it increased rewarding dopamine activity.” – The Upward Spiral

So, if you’re stressing yourself out over something, making the decision to do something about it can actually help to put your mind at rest. But don’t make a decision to do something that is too far out of your reach, doing too much at once can actually cause more stress and inevitably led to failure.

Make more Physical Connections with The People in Your Life

The Science: “One of the primary ways to release oxytocin is through touching. Obviously, it’s not always appropriate to touch most people, but small touches like handshakes and pats on the back are usually okay. For people you’re close with, make more of an effort to touch more often… A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.” – The Upward Spiral

As they mention in The Upward Spiral, you don’t want to start touching everyone you encounter indiscriminately, but increasing the amount of physical contact you have with others in your life can help to improve your mood.

Whether you’re stressed, anxious, depressed, blue, or none of the above, give these four exercises a try to see if they help to improve your mood.

The Trouble with Automating Recruiting

The Trouble with Automating Recruiting

So many things in life have become automated, – shopping, banking, eating, etc. – and most of these automated processes help to make life simpler. Recruiting is no exception to the automated revolution.
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There are dozens of online job boards, job applications, and vendor management systems that many companies have tried to take advantage of. Automating the recruiting process in its ideal state would mean; being able to find your next top employee without even having to meet them in person.

However, automating the recruiting process isn’t all moonlight and roses.

Resume Overload

Posting a position online can bring in hundreds of resumes that you will have to cull through. While more resumes may seem like a positive, quantity does not necessarily equate to quality.

Unqualified Candidates

Many online job candidates will send their resumes in for positions for which they know that they are unqualified. After all, they simply need to upload a resume and possibly update their cover letter to apply for the position. This means there are far more unqualified applications in your inbox.

Less Follow Through

With so many applications to look through, responding to every single one of them can take up far too much time. However, not responding to even the highly underqualified applications, can leave some disgruntled talent who may share their distaste over social media, damaging your brand.

Overall, automating the recruiting process is intended to save time and energy, but with the overload of resumes to cull through, it can end up taking just as long as, or sometimes longer than, if you had met with your top candidates in person.

Some candidates sound great on paper, but when met in person you can can discover they may not be the best fit for your company. Coming face to face with prospective talent is an important part of the recruiting process that should not be skipped.

One of the best ways to automate the recruiting process without taking away the face to face aspect of the task, is to hire a trusted advisor to do the heavy lifting for you. At HT Partners, we’ll present you with the top talent that fits best with your organization so you can be free to do your job. Call us at 847.202.3242 to learn more.

IT Job Satisfaction – What Really Retains Top IT Talent?

IT Job Satisfaction – What Really Retains Top IT Talent?

The demand for qualified IT professionals is at a high. So high, in fact, that in certain fields there are more positions available than there are candidates to fill them. Because of this, salaries are continuously rising and bonuses are handed out far more often than in other professions.

However, when it comes to job satisfaction, salary and job security certainly play a role, but according to a TechTarget survey these factors aren’t what are most important to most IT professionals.

So, if salary isn’t what’s most important, what factors lead to job satisfaction? According to the survey, the most important aspects of an IT position include the following; the job should be intellectually challenging, it should have a positive working environment, and there should be flexible scheduling.

Engagement

One of the most sure-fire ways to lose a good employee in the IT industry is to bore them. No matter how good other aspects of the job may be, if the job fails to interest them, most employees will become discontent and leave to find a position that truly engages them. According to 32% of the participants in the TechTarget survey, one of the best ways to ensure job satisfaction is to ensure the work is intellectually challenging.

Environment

In order to ensure IT professionals remain happy in their position, it’s important to take a close look at the working environment. The environment of a job plays a huge role in satisfaction and retention, with 20% of the TechTarget survey participants citing this factor as being important to them. To ensure a great working environment it’s important to try to make sure that the team is supportive of everyone in the office.

Flexibility

IT professionals may want a job that is intellectually challenging and has a great environment, but they also want to have a life outside of work. 14% of the TechTarget survey believe that having a flexible work schedule is important in job satisfaction.

With the demand for quality IT staff so high, ensuring the company’s talent is satisfied is likely one of the top priorities for most corporations. However, the quickest way to an IT professional’s heart isn’t through promotions or pay increases. Rather, most IT professionals choose to keep their current jobs because they’re engaged by their job and colleagues, encouraged by their co-workers and managers, and have a good work-life balance.

If your company’s talent retention strategies center on pay increases and bonuses, it may be time to rethink and re-strategize.

Computer Science Salaries Rise as Tech Talent is in Demand

Computer Science Salaries Rise as Tech Talent is in Demand

This spring thousands of students will be graduating with a computer science major, and even though computer science has become a popular degree, there still aren’t enough students to fill the job market.

For companies looking to hire new graduates, the competition is stiff. Larger well-known companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and LinkedIn are grabbing fresh graduates at a hasty pace. Many of these companies hire prospective talent as interns before they’ve earned their degree, only to have the students remain with them following graduation. In fact, 31% of students interviewed in a Looksharp study had received job offers by graduation.

Computer Science Majors Have Great Job Prospects

In the same survey, it was found that out of all of the students who graduated in 2014, only 45% were able to find full time jobs. Of those students, the individuals whom received a degree in computer science, 61% had full time jobs at the time of the survey.

IT unemployment is only at 2%, and 80% of the employed IT professionals are willing to listen to job offers, even while if are pleased with their current employment. The lack of talent on the market in combination with the difficulty of retention leaves a huge rift between supply and demand. Additionally more and more companies are creating positions that require an IT professional on site.

With the supply and demand rift in favor of the computer science graduates, more and more companies are finding it necessary to raise starting salaries in order to attract these graduates.

Computer Science Majors Know Their Value

CS majors are well informed that their talents are valuable to many companies. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers the average salary for a bachelor’s degree in computer science is projected to be at $61,321 in 2016. This starting salary is only beat by Engineers.

The majority of CS graduates expected a starting salary higher than the actual average salary, and some of them did receive higher. This indicates that the students understand that their skills are in demand and that they can possibly demand a higher than average figure without any previous work experience.

The practice of capping entry-level salaries is simply not as viable when the supply and demand gap is so substantial. Many companies are willing to negotiate higher salaries in order to fill open positions.

CS Grads are Pickier Regarding the Jobs they Will Take

Since CS majors now that their skills are in high demand, it’s no surprise they also maintain higher standards than other graduates when job hunting.

On average, fewer CS graduates would;

  • Do an internship simply to get their foot in the door.
  • Consider working in an industry that wasn’t their first choice.
  • Consider taking a job with a less than ideal work life balance.
What to Do When You Are Unable to Retain Your Top Talent

What to Do When You Are Unable to Retain Your Top Talent

The Talent war is still in full swing, and many companies are doing all they can to retain as much talent as possible. Many companies are implementing mentorships, high base compensation, bonuses, classes, and more in the name of talent retention.

Some of the ways you can work to retain your top talent are listed in multiple past articles; Top Strategy for Bridging the Talent Gap and Retaining Talent – MentoringTen Tips for Retaining Your Top Talent, and Top 7 Reasons Your IT Professionals Are Quitting. These blog posts are great reads if you want to take preventative measures against losing your top talent.

However, sometimes it’s impossible to retain everybody. Sometimes the reason people leave has absolutely nothing to do with what your company does, or does not do, to retain them. The point I’m trying to make, is this; it’s impossible to retain all of your top talent, short of tying them to a chair… Because of this, you need to accept the fact that you are going to be unable to keep an employee with your company forever.

Rather than regretting and bemoaning the fact that you have to find someone to replace them, it’s important to come to terms with the fact and do everything in your power to ensure they leave on a good note. Especially if they were one of your top employees to begin with.

Here are the three main things to do when your top talent is leaving;

  1. Accept and support their decision. Becoming angry over a talents decision to leave, doesn’t help anyone, and so be sure to maintain a positive attitude throughout the experience.
  2. Mentor them on the way out. Once they have decided that it’s in their best interest to leave the company, be sure to help them. Give them advice, coaching, or recommendations to ensure they will be successful when they leave.
  3. Ask them to lead a discussion before they go. If they are an expert in their area, ask them to identify a topic of expertise and then lead a group through that topic. This allows other employees to get a basic look into the exiting employees work so that it may be easier to fill the position from within.

 Why is it important to maintain a good relationship with talent even when they are exiting the company?

  • They may eventually want to come back. Many people who leave one company for another are attempting to go off to greener pastures, only to find that they enjoyed their past experience more. Additionally, many people leave for personal reasons and hope to come back at a later date.
  • They are more likely to recommend your company to their peers. No matter how great working at your company may have been for them, if their exit is stressful, they’ll be far less likely to recommend your business as a great place to work for.
  • You may have the opportunity to collaborate with them in the future. Their expertise has obviously been useful in your business, so no matter where they go, it’s likely they may team up with you at a later date in order to collaborate.

By ensuring the employees that are leaving your company continue to be successful after they leave, you’re not only helping them, you’re helping yourself.

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