Getting the IT Kids to Come -- and Stay - InformationWeek

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9/26/2007
11:01 AM
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Getting the IT Kids to Come -- and Stay

When did it get so hard to attract good IT employees? At some point in the last few years, luring top talent has become increasingly competitive for IT managers, and for the small and midsize business, it's an issue that speaks not only to their success but also to their very survival.

When did it get so hard to attract good IT employees? At some point in the last few years, luring top talent has become increasingly competitive for IT managers, and for the small and midsize business, it's an issue that speaks not only to their success but also to their very survival.Perhaps the paucity of talent can be explained by recent Department of Labor statistics:

"America will add more than 1 million IT jobs between 2004 and 2014, according to the Department of Labor," quotes the Mercury News. But, it continues, "At the same time, undergraduate enrollment in computer sciences declined 59 percent from 2001 to 2005."

59 percent!? That's a lot of our graduates that are no longer interested in careers in IT. Wasn't there a time when working in the IT field was considered a creative, independently minded move and vaguely glamorous  in a geeky, glamorous way, of course.

Phil Bond of the Mercury News continues: "When you consider that a newly minted systems analyst with a college degree will likely earn around $50,000 a year, you wonder if kids are getting the whole story."

He cites a survey that indicates that many college students think a career in IT means a "life in isolation. They fear spending long days in front of a monitor." Bond says the truth is the opposite which I'm not sure I completely agree with but it's certainly at least half wrong. As he points out: "The 21st century workplace demands that technology workers understand and engage in their employers' and customers' businesses. IT specialists are increasingly pulled out of their cubicles and into the conference room. Computer scientists are helping to set the business direction of major corporations."

With fewer IT graduates competing for more jobs, it's time to start "selling" the goods on your company if you really want to secure quality workers.

Perhaps IT managers searching for quality hires would do well to heed the results of a recent Right Management survey that indicates what are the factors most important to college graduates when considering which employers to work for. They are:

  • Opportunities for career development
  • Work/life balance
  • Good rapport with bosses and co-workers
  • Employers valuing their opinions
  • Receiving positive feedback for a job well done
  • Getting information in a timely manner

These are not unreasonable demands and they can provide food for thought for any IT manager looking to populate their department. The survey also indicated that 61 percent of college students expect to remain with their first employers for less than three years. Who wants to go through all this again in just a couple of years? Make your IT department a great place to work. Maybe these kids will hang around for a while  and they'll tell their friends.

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