Finding, and developing IT talent is a top priority for most organizations. However, in-demand skills frequently change, and top performers often explore their options when job markets heat up. In light of these age-old problems, just how are companies keeping teams staffed with the best and brightest?
I asked three Trusted Voices what their organizations are experiencing on the skills front. It's no surprise that they are all looking for self-driven, technical and business-savvy talent. But there's a strong commitment to training new hires, and giving them the opportunity and resources to grow into new responsibilities. Here's what they said.
Yes, finding top quality digital product development talent is becoming tough. With the economy improving and new startups really taking off here in the Los Angeles area, recruiting for developers, project managers and quality assurance engineers for our product development operations has become quite challenging. We are doing several things to address this. First, even though we are a big public company, we have made the environment in our Santa Monica office very much like a startup. We do software development projects using small agile teams. We offer several amenities like catered lunch, recreational activities and happy hours that are commonly found in startup environments, but not as prevalent in large traditional media companies. We are doing this in order to remain competitive in the market place and are seeing great results. In addition, we are expanding our engineering and product management operations to the bay area in order to have access to a larger talent pool. These strategies are allowing us to effectively manage the stability of our product development operations, and also significantly enrich the quality of our talent pool at the same time.
Finding, developing and maintaining the right skill sets are a challenge for us primarily in three areas:
Technical/development: HTML5 and mobile platforms. Our response: filter candidates to find those who are generally self-driven, then provide the time and training resources (including open source online training) for them to become competent in the newer technologies.
Project management: Business savvy project managers with enough technical knowledge to ensure the business units and IT work together smoothly. Our response: Use available channels, such as recruiters, LinkedIn, and word-of-mouth to identify business-oriented individuals, such as MBAs and ex-Military, who can do the job. Train them internally with online resources, externally with focused PMI classes and have them spend the first few months observing onsite the businesses, its operations and personnel. Also encourage PM certifications.
High end help desk: Staff with deep, multi-function application knowledge, beyond routine break-fix responses. Our response: Use available channels to identify individuals with highly diverse technical backgrounds, then provide the time and encouragement to become versatile in dozens of platforms/packages relevant to user needs. While identifying and training the proper staff we will outsource the high end capability then slowly reduce our dependence once our internal staff is brought up to speed.
We are continuously challenged for Architects and certified Six-Sigma black belts. We have taken the approach of providing on-the-job training and seeking out partners and solution providers to take the first step addressing strategic needs. We are also offering the existing team learning opportunities to keep skill sets current and top rate. It takes patience.