IT staffing troubles begin, especially with younger developers

IT staffing troubles begin, especially with younger developers

Summary: This is a time when new technology-oriented companies and startups are bursting foward across the business landscape, and slurping up talent. CIOs say they are feeling the pinch.


The recent soft economy was tough on everyone, but in one respect, it made life a little easier for IT managers. They could hang on to their IT talent. But lately, as the economy starts to heat up, and projects multiply, IT professionals have been harder to come by.

This is especially the case with younger professionals, CIOs say. Network World's Carolyn Duffy spoke with Marsan Louis Trebino, CIO and senior vice president at the Harry Fox Agency (HFA) in New York City, who reported all kinds of issues with younger staff and Java programmers. "No sooner does he hire a Java programmer and train him in the company's music industry niche, than the programmer is recruited away for a higher salary."

Money is one issue, and unwillingness to work on legacy systems is another, says Trebino:

"They don't want to deal with something that's existing. Our systems are fairly large and complex. They've been built and evolved over a number of years. They're not off-the-shelf; everything is custom. Younger workers get frustrated by these applications. They don't understand why the program does this. They want to just write something fresh...."

To address this sense of alienation, Trebino says he is promoting greater ownership of projects in which IT professionals are given greater latitude in technology decisions. They are working closer with business users as well -- adopting Agile techniques.

This is a time when new technology-oriented companies and startups are bursting foward across the business landscape, and slurping up talent. Enterprises will need to formulate smarter and more creative ways to attract and keep the talent they need to build new business capabilities. Automation, cloud and outsourcing are ways to address IT needs, but these just meet current and known requirements -- but don't help the business look forward. If a business is to grow, it needs active minds on board that can discover new ways to leverage business technology.

Topics: CXO, Cloud, Outsourcing, Start-Ups

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  • RE: IT staffing troubles begin, especially with younger developers

    And yet, there's a whole slew of good IT guys fresh from college that nobody at all will hire because every entry level positions all require 6 months work experience.

    I've got a college buddy who can't find work, even though he's smarter and better than me in every possible way. The only difference between us is that I was smart enough to get an internship while I was still in school (which was a fluke to be honest, another one of my buddies was already working here as an intern and got me in).
    • RE: IT staffing troubles begin, especially with younger developers


      As an IT manager...

      6mo- 1yr real world work experience shows us management that this person can actually apply there IT learned foundation. In my years of IT i have seen this countless amount of times where the best and brightest on paper could not handle real IT deadlines workload etc.. I understand your point with your friend and his hardship of finding a job. Even though he is graduated there are company's that will still hire has temps or interns. I have hired a systems analyst in the past that was out of school for a little over a year.
      • RE: IT staffing troubles begin, especially with younger developers

        @MLHACK Agreed. We had a graduate. Even after a 6 week intensive Java course, he still couldn't comprehend loops and conditional statements!
      • You can always ask the applicant to show code samples

        You can even administer a programming exercise after the interview. The thing about programming is that the skills are relatively easy to demonstrate if you have them.
        John L. Ries
    • RE: IT staffing troubles begin, especially with younger developers

      @Aerowind You are right. I went to school as a English/Lit major and worked for IT companies just to pay the bills. Out of school now and I have a career with no certs or degrees in the IT field. Goes to show you that experience is everything. I have been in the industry for 5 years now, with a lot of experience in different fields ranging from trade shows and pharmaceutical companies, mobile broadcast technology, hospitals and banks, massive data migration and more. I bounced around as a consultant for about 4 years before I landed my now full time job last Feb.

      The pay isn't spectacular, but it is adequate enough to allow me to live very comfortably, and the benefits and perks are a huge bonus for someone who never had benefits at a job before.
    • I feel for your friend

      @Aerowind <br>It took me five years to land my first real programming job (market was depressed at the end of the Cold War and I was painfully shy anyway), but I've been employed in my chosen profession for all but one month of the 19 years since then. My suggestions:<br><br>1. Program every workday for as long as he has time and can stand it (at least an hour a day) to keep his skills sharp. He should be prepared to show his work to potential employers.<br><br>2. Find an interesting open source project and contribute to it. It looks good on a resume and provides direction to item one.<br><br>3. Don't just rely on the want ads. Most jobs aren't advertised and even when they are, the listed qualifications are often more flexible than one might believe.<br><br>4. Don't ever give up.
      John L. Ries
      • RE: IT staffing troubles begin, especially with younger developers

        @John L. Ries Totally agree. When I was looking for work, I worked on a couple of open source projects, including SUSE Linux.

        As well as sending out applications to adverts, I looked for IT companies in the area and applied on spec.
  • Most ....

    YOUNGER / straight out of school programmers turn out to be nothing more than WIDGET JOCKEYS ....
  • A lot to be said...

    for apprenticeships.

    Here, in Germany, you can either learn to be a programmer through an apprenticeship or you can do a degree course.

    Likewise, if you want to do a job a Praktikum or internship is a good way to go. Many, even experienced, workers will try and get a foot in the door by doing an internship.

    Being flexible is key.

    And not expecting to always work on something new is also important. In fact, it was the subject of the project seminar I ran at Augsburg University (Best Practices in Component Oriented Software Re-Engineering).

    A vast majority of programming will be maintaining existing systems, whether you wrote them yourself or whether you take on the support role for an existing project. It isn't glamorous and it can be frustrating.

    Especially if you have to look after an MS-BASIC system, written by FORTRAN programmers and maintained for 5 years by COBOL programmers! That was my first job and the programmers had never heard of For..Next or While...Wend constructs, it was all "20 a = a + 1: IF a < 20 Go To 10" :-O

    That's my motto.
  • RE: IT staffing troubles begin, especially with younger developers

    This is more an indication of discrimination than anything else. Companies want younger workers without home lives since they will work longer hours at lower salaries.

    We had over 200 [b]qualified[/b] resumes for 2 database programmer jobs less than a week after they were posted. There are still plenty of talented and experienced IT professionals out of work, and the number is going up as even midsize companies are starting to offshore jobs to India and China.
    terry flores
  • RE: IT staffing troubles begin, especially with younger developers

    There is a disturbing trend in younger workers .... they tend to jump ship to a different job ... alot of different jobs .... rather than staying put, being focused and getting the proper kudos and advancement that any company would offer. Outrageous salaries for technical certs is stupid in my opinion and I blame microsoft and other software corporations for attempting to use the certifications as a means of justification for paying a higher salary. Certifications do not make the man or the woman. Yes, they can "enhance" ones resume, but only if combined with actual work experience. I would rather employ someone with 5-10 years of hands on experience than someone fresh out of school with a certification. The reason being, the NOOBIE with the certification has NO REAL WORLD experience, only what the professor taught him or her. Some jobs are very complex and real world applications demand real world experience in order to effectively bring them to fruition.

    Salaries in the IT professions are often under paid anyway for the long hours most IT folks spend keeping the systems up and going.

    I know from my own personal experiences, that most of the companies I worked for since 1981 did not offer paid training. I had to learn on my own time as I went along and was never ever compensated for my knowledge gains. Today, because of my 30+ years of work experience, I get what I am worth because I am paid for what I know and I know a whole lot and am still learning new technologies and such. So my value and worth is growing and the only certifications I have are on Novell Networking and Unix System Administration. I do not hold or desire any microsoft certifications because in my honest opinion, they are "worthless, meaningless pieces of paper".
  • If you can't find qualified applicants...

    Train them. After all, that is what employers did before academic Computer Science programs came into being.
    John L. Ries
    • Sharp

      @John L. Ries

      This, as well as your post above (with wright_is). +
  • RE: IT staffing troubles begin, especially with younger developers

    100% bull manure. This is just a lame excuse to start importing IT personnel from Asia at cheap prices, without fringe benefits, who can work 15-20 hrs a day. There are thousands of recent graduates who are willing to work hard. Just give them the opportunity.
  • This is Where the IT Age Discrimination Problem has Taken Us

    Many companies only want to hire young (under 30) programmers and refuse to consider anyone older, especially those older than 40. It's just 'cool' to hire an 'old guy' (in Google terms 'old fuddy duddys'), especially if you're a start-up. Young programmers know this and are using it to obtain higher salaries while skilled older programmers remain out of work for months.
  • Don't hire programmers who have only done new developments

    It is only by doing maintenance work that one can learn how to write maintainable code yourself.
    • Gotta start somewhere

      @jorwell <br>And it's not that hard for junior programmers to learn how to maintain code (provided they're willing to learn).
      John L. Ries
      • Start the junior programmers on maintenance

        @John L. Ries

        This way they get to see code written by other people and learn what works (and what doesn't).