Jeffrey Parkinson, Senior Vice President of Customer Data at Dow Jones, and John Prokap, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at HarperCollins Publishers, examined the global talent crisis in IT – and what can be done to address this crisis – during a Fireside Chat at the 2018 CISO Leadership Forum in New York on November 8. During the chat, “Cracking Down on the Talent Crisis,” Parkinson and Prokap offered insights into how organizations can attract and retain top IT talent.
There is only a limited amount of IT talent available worldwide. Meanwhile, global organizations are competing for top IT talent. And if an organization struggles to attract and retain top IT talent, it risks falling behind its rivals in a fierce global marketplace.
Networking can play an important role in an organization’s ability to engage with and attract top IT talent. If an organization’s IT team participates in networking events, this organization may be better equipped than ever before to identify and foster long-term partnerships with top IT talent.
“If you present [at conferences], you become more known, and candidates and talent will want to join your team,” Prokap said.
Providing IT talent with career advancement opportunities also is paramount for global organizations.
Top IT professionals often pursue roles that allow them to grow with an organization. At the same time, these professionals want to contribute ideas and feedback to an IT team. If an organization provides IT talent with interesting and engaging work, it could differentiate itself from the competition. And as a result, this organization could boost the likelihood of consistently attracting and retaining top IT talent.
“The challenge is keeping [talent] engaged, giving them interesting work and keeping them challenged,” Prokap indicated. “Most IT talent doesn’t want to be just heads down … [this talent] wants to share ideas as well.”
Giving IT team members opportunities to take on new challenges is vital, too.
Top IT professionals frequently want to learn new things and develop their skill sets. If an organization offers extensive training, it can help IT professionals deliver meaningful contributions within an organization both now and in the future.
“I keep tossing [our IT team] bigger and bigger fish,” Parkinson stated. “I try to help [our IT team] build lines on their resume each year, not so [team members] will walk out the door, but so I can hope to retain them.”
Furthermore, organizations must keep pace with a rapidly evolving technology landscape. New technologies are becoming available, and organizations must employ IT talent who can track these technologies and understand their benefits. If an organization ultimately decides to deploy certain technologies, it also must offer its IT team the tools, resources and training to ensure all team members can get the most out of these technologies.
“We have a lot of legacy resources … and now, we’re asking our team to be cloud engineers, and that’s a tough shift,” Parkinson noted. “We’re training people in [cloud] languages, and we’re bringing in new talent.”
A diverse IT team is ideal, as it promotes unparalleled collaboration and communication. This team will include IT professionals from myriad backgrounds, all of whom can work together to help an organization accomplish various goals.
“We’re trying to find the best talent possible, but we don’t want a homogenous workforce,” Prokap pointed out. “We try to select different candidates, but obviously, the workforce is limited.”
Going forward, IT leaders must partner with HR and recruiting teams to explore ways to attract and retain top IT talent. If IT leaders identify the skills and training they want in job candidates, they can share this information with HR and recruiting teams. Next, HR and recruiting teams can allocate time and resources to perform an in-depth search for candidates that match or exceed IT leaders’ expectations.
“We work with HR and our recruiters to set our budget correctly,” Prokap indicated. “At other times, we try to right-size the candidate … and work with HR and recruiters to make sure we’re getting the right talent.”
Lastly, IT leaders must know which questions to ask during interviews with job candidates.
No two IT job candidates are exactly alike. To differentiate an exceptional job candidate from an average one, an IT leader should consider how a candidate can function within an organization and its IT department. This leader also must review a candidate’s technical and interpersonal skills, as well as his or her ability to deliver meaningful contributions.
“You’re trying to answer two questions [with IT talent]: Can a person do the job, and will this person fit in with my team? Because if this person is a rock star, [this person] is toxic, and you don’t want this person on your team,” Prokap said.