New Projects are Reshaping IT Staffing Needs

By Dave Willmer

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If yours is like many companies, new IT projects are on the horizon. In a recent survey by Robert Half Technology, more than one-third (37 percent) of CIOs interviewed said, post-recession, they plan to implement software and hardware upgrades deferred because of the downturn. Others plan to follow through with virtualization projects (16 percent), website design initiatives (16 percent) and the implementation of internal collaboration/technology tools (12 percent).

What follows is closer look at why and how firms are proceeding with these IT plans:

Software and hardware upgrades - Relying on outdated software and hardware can greatly limit a firm’s technological capabilities and put it at a competitive disadvantage. Organizations that delayed upgrades when times were tough are now realizing they can no longer hold off on the necessary improvements, particularly as economic conditions improve, and new growth opportunities emerge.

According to the third quarter Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report, many firms are vying for similar talent to support their hardware and software-related initiatives. When asked which functional area is most difficult to find skilled professionals for, networking came in first, followed by applications development, security and software development.

Virtualization projects - Virtualization tools have become attractive because of the increased efficiencies and potential cost savings they represent. This technology enables greater hardware utilization while reducing administrative expenses, as well as space and power requirements.

Since few IT professionals have extensive experience with these tools, many organizations are turning to staff who are knowledgeable about networking, desktop and storage issues and asking them to work as a team on virtualization efforts. Training and certification programs are often effective at providing employees with the expertise to manage these projects successfully.

Website design initiatives - As companies reconsider their strategic marketing plans, many are implementing changes to their websites to improve functionality, increase the level of interactivity and make them easier to access via mobile devices. Firms recruiting Web designers and developers value experience with .NET, PHP, JavaScript and CSS.

Internal collaboration/technology tools - Recognizing the benefits of social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn, companies are creating similar internal communication venues for their employees. Internal collaboration tools such as Microsoft SharePoint and Google Apps are allowing staff in varied locations to exchange files, create shared documents, blog about topics relevant to company business and discuss critical issues through forums or bulletin boards.

Firms may have positions strictly devoted to managing the implementation and maintenance of internal communication tools or assign the responsibilities to employees in related areas such as networking or Web and application development.

For more information about trends affecting IT departments and how firms can staff appropriately to successfully complete upcoming initiatives, download a free copy of the Robert Half Technology 2010 Salary Guide at www.rht.com/SalaryCenter.

Recruiting high demand professionals

With many employers planning similar IT initiatives, competition will be growing for appropriate talent to support these projects. It will take a diversified recruitment strategy to find the most skilled and in-demand professionals. What follows are some key strategies to consider:

Word of mouth - Inform everyone you know about your job opening — even those outside of IT. Also attend business group and industry association events to network with a wide range of professionals.

Traditional ads - Consider ads on websites and in publications specific to the IT field and, if possible, the niche you are targeting, to avoid being inundated with resumes from unqualified applicants. Don’t forget to highlight some of the key benefits of working for your firm to entice top candidates to apply.

Staff referrals - Who better understands your corporate culture and hiring needs than people who already work at your company? You’re likely to get solid leads from employees because they won’t want to damage their reputations by recommending individuals who would be a poor fit.

Recruiters - Shameless plug, I know, but IT staffing firms like ours typically have strong connections in the local community, allowing them to identify skilled individuals who are not actively job hunting but might be interested in learning about your opening.

Your employees - Be sure to spread the word within your organization about the position available. You never know where a promising lead might come from. A member of your firm’s marketing team might be completing a Web design program and have just the right expertise for a vacancy in your Web group.

Dave Willmer is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multi-platform systems integration to network security and technical support. The company has more than 100 locations worldwide.