It’s tough to find the right IT skills you need when you need them. When a technology is on the cutting edge, few people have experience with it, and competition for them is intense. Over time, more workers pick up the skills—but by then, the IT world has moved on to the next big thing. Along the way, projects languish and companies miss out on lucrative opportunities. How can you ensure your organization keeps pace with technology? Read on.
Widespread Problems, Serious Consequences
In an Information Week survey, 73% of respondents at companies with fewer than 1,000 employees—and 88% of respondents at larger companies—complained of an IT talent shortage in one or more technology areas that were important to their business.
Not filling IT jobs in a timely fashion has serious consequences. In the Information Week survey, 79% of the large-company respondents said they had to delay IT projects for lack of people. Worse yet, 48% said staffing shortages resulted in poor-quality work, and 33% said they caused the company to miss revenue opportunities.
There is disagreement in the tech community about what causes this problem. Some believe there is a genuine shortage of skilled candidates, while others claim skilled workers are out there, but not all HR departments are doing a very good job of finding them.
While there are many IT generalists, technology changes quickly, creating the need for new specialties that are hard to find. Data analysts, for example, are in great demand, and harder to come by than hen’s teeth. User experience designers, developers, and network engineers are also scarce and coveted.
As for cybersecurity experts, a Stanford University study estimates there are 200,000 unfilled jobs in the United States alone, and Cisco Systems says there may be more than 1 million vacancies worldwide. Healthcare IT is another area with acute shortages—a third of healthcare managers had to postpone or scale back an IT project as a result, according to a 2014 survey by the Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS).
Of course, you can provide training for hard-to-find specialists. But that takes money and time, and your competitors aren’t standing still while you’re stalled for lack of talent.
Direct Hire Speeds Up the Process
For critical, hard-to-fill IT jobs, it often makes sense to use a direct hire placement service. Unlike your HR department, which gets bogged down with benefits, policies and procedures, compliance requirements, and myriad other time-consuming tasks, a direct hire placement service zeroes in on finding the needle in the haystack you need for your next project. And they’re motivated—if they don’t find you an appropriate candidate, they don’t get paid.
Often, direct hire services are able to fill jobs in half the time of an HR department. In addition to finding the specific skills you need, they do thorough reference and background checks. They’ll also sit down with you to learn about your company’s culture, so you won’t end up with a brilliant technician who can’t communicate with anyone. Some services even offer a guarantee for candidates you hire.
The IT skills shortage is likely to persist as new technologies continue to foster new demands. While direct hire placements can’t get at the root of the problem, they can at least solve your hiring needs today, putting you in a better position to face tomorrow.