The employees you need may already be on your team but out of sight. Looking for existing staff with transferable skills, hidden skills, technical learnability, and hidden knowledge can bring these potential employees into focus.
These are comprised of knowledge, experience, and abilities that make it easier to learn new skills. Within IT, this could mean finding workers to do programing, testing, cybersecurity, operations, project management, or other similar tasks. For example, when trying to fill your cybersecurity positions, there are several places you can look, depending on the specific role you’re trying to fill:
- A role to raise security awareness within the organization could be a person in HR specializing in organizational culture, or a marketing person specializing in writing marketing materials. Both these professions understand how to move a person’s thinking in a specified direction.
- A role to monitor incoming security threats or intrusion detection could be a person from the IT operations team currently running and monitoring standard daily and nightly batch production runs. IT operations staff have the ability to both perform ongoing monitoring tasks, and an understanding of the organization’s IT infrastructure and processes.
- A role to separate server trusted connectivity could be an existing enterprise architect or Linux/Windows system administrator. Both have an understanding of your internal systems and the technical expertise to properly reconfigure how your servers and other devices are technically connected.
Simply put, these are existing skill sets within your team not being used in their current job roles. For example, there may be someone working in the accounting department that has a college degree in applied mathematics. This person could be an ideal internal candidate for a position in predictive analytics, big data analysis, or even machine learning related roles. Also, there may be a business analyst who worked as a salesperson earlier in their career. This person could be an ideal candidate to implement a new cloud-based CRM system, such as Salesforce.
This is a person’s ability to learn a new skill based on their prior knowledge and/or raw intellectual aptitude. As an example outside of IT, research has shown that it’s easier for a person who can speak two languages to learn a new language, than a person who only speaks one language to learn a second one. In an IT context, logic would dictate that people who already know one or more programming language could more easily pick up a new one quicker than a person who has never programmed. From an intellectual aptitude perspective, many people, due to personal circumstances, didn’t have the opportunity to study computer-related subjects, yet have high aptitude for logic, puzzles, problem solving, and other related topics, so if given the chance, they could be great technical professionals.
Like hidden skills, hidden knowledge isn’t hidden because people want to keep it a secret. It’s because it doesn’t come up in conversation; it’s not relevant to their current job role. Hidden knowledge could come from prior work experience, personal hobbies, formalized education, professional certifications related to their future professional goals, even life experiences. For instance, if you need an additional project manager or a scrum master, there may be someone on your team with a PMP or Agile certification related to a previous job and would like to return to a project leadership role. Alternatively, you may have a team member who wants to move into cybersecurity, and just received a CISSP, CISA or other security-related certification.
As an IT leader, the use of these techniques to fill open IT positions has many advantages, including:
- Reduced costs of filling open positions in a tough recruiting marketplace.
- Increased likelihood the employee will fit into your organization’s culture because he or she already works there.
- Increased company loyalty and reduced attrition because employees feel the organization appreciates the whole person and their full skill set, not just their currently used abilities.
- Enhanced hiring ability because the company will gain a reputation of employee-centric career growth.