Hiring talented tech workers: Easier said than done

Hiring technology employees isn't as easy as it used to be. In fact, it's getting downright confusing.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Hiring technology employees isn't as easy as it used to be. In fact, it's getting downright confusing.

Crosscurrents abound, says Gartner analyst Diane Morello. To wit, Baby Boomers are nearing retirement. Teens brought up with MySpace will be entering the work force and jobs will be global. Morello noted one company shut down instant messaging at work--that's a symbol to turn off young workers.


So how do you attract top technology talent?

"The quest for talent means that nothing you've done in the past will suffice," says Morello, speaking at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo.

Among the things that are changing:

  • Quality of peers matters. This seems like a no-brainer, but there's also a network effect. The more talent you hire the more similar workers are attracted to your company. The flip side is in effect too. Google is targeting  this item.
  • talent1.png
    Competition for workers will be global. You may have to go abroad to find workers depending on the skill. Regions will develop expertise, say China for gaming and Japan for telemedicine. See chart at the right.
  • The employment model. No two people approach work the same way. The future workers will have tasks individually designed by 2015. By 2015, people will customize 90 percent of information, tools education and technology resources they use at work and home. Bottom line: Predefined work paths won't necessarily work. 
  • Talented people will move. The best companies will account for that fact and accommodate them so they can move around.
  • The gap between leaders and followers will widen dramatically.

To navigate those changes, Morello noted that companies have to ask whether they have the talent to move ahead, and must realize that job descriptions may not reflect the talent of the staff. Companies also need to figure out their tendencies. Is the company ruled by policies? Or is it aggressive?

Making things more complicated is that talent to your company may not mean technical aptitude.  You're going to need workers that are versatile. You may even need what Gartner calls a "deployee," someone that can be parachuted into multiple situations.

Some tips to find talent:

Check out TeachforAmerica. Morello argues that TeachforAmerica is a place where you can cultivate future workers. Why? These students understand a big mission and wind up with the skills that you'll need in the future. 

Advertise jobs abroad for many positions. Don't limit yourself to to a 50 mile circle around corporate headquarters.  

Mimic Google. Morello says Google is a company that gets the importance for talent.  

Grow your own. Educate current workers and give them the tools to succeed. If you don't have the competence on staff, enable workers to get them. Morello calls this the "refreshment" of workers.  

Use social networking. Social networks can be used internally and externally to reassign workers and get referrals. Monitor wikis and Linkedin. F5's Dev Central and the Netflix Prize are examples of ways to find talent externally. 

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