Finding (and keeping) skilled IT professionals

By Robert Half March 25, 2017 at 1:00pm

Recruiting and retaining talented IT professionals can be a challenging process.

Even though the latest quarterly Labour Force figures from the ABS reveal a 2% decline in employment growth across Information, Media & Telecommunications since November 2016, there remains a significant increase of 4% since February 2014, highlighting the steady demand for skilled IT staff.

David Jones, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half Asia Pacific said: “Demand within the IT sector has remained steady over the past 12 months, and despite a slight decrease recently, demand for skilled IT professionals is set to continue throughout the year.” 

In this article, we explore how you can you identify and retain the right talent for your company in order to meet the current and future demands of the IT sector.

The difficulties of finding skilled IT professionals

Recent research featured in Robert Half's Cyber-security report found that many businesses are struggling to keep their IT department adequately filled. High demand is simply outstripping supply, with seventy-five per cent of Australian CIOs saying they will face more security threats in the next five years due a shortage of IT security talent. On top of this, 34% of Australian CIOs say software development is an area in IT that will create the most jobs over the next five years. With fewer Australian IT graduates, skilled talent is predicted to be increasingly scarce, making the war for talent more prevalent in the IT sector.

Toughest positions to fill

The majority of businesses named software development as the most challenging position to fill. The top three functional areas most businesses struggled with included:

  1. Software Development
  2. Applications Development
  3. IT Security

Most desirable IT skills

When looking at the technical skills most in demand in IT departments, CRM technologies and PHP led the pack, along with cloud technology and Big Data analytics. However finding IT professionals with the right skills isn't the only issue facing many hiring managers.

Retention efforts will need to be increased for companies to bid for top talent, which includes not just a generous compensation package, but going beyond financial incentives to include factors such as career pathing and work-life balance. The increased confidence among IT professionals regarding their demand in the employment market has greatly impacted skills demand and expectations.

Good ways to secure new IT staff

If your business is struggling to find suitable IT experts, why not re-evaluate what you’re offering them? When looking for a permanent position, IT professionals will be tempted by solid salary offers and good benefits, but will also want to see the potential for stimulating projects and ways to engage their creative side. Does your company adopt the latest technologies or allow employees to engage in further staff training and development?

Organisations should consider holding innovation days - anything from annually to quarterly - in order to tap into creative ideas. This not only benefits the business, but more importantly, allows employees to contribute in innovative ways outside of their day-day work responsibilities.

Another option to fulfil staff shortages can be a temporary hire, particularly when it comes to one-off projects. Highly-specialised staff can be hired exclusively for the project, and it also gives you time to assess whether someone might be suitable for a more permanent role should the need arise.

At times you may need to call in the professionals, a recruitment agency that is highly skilled at candidate searches and strategic staffing. This will save you both time and effort in interviewing and screening candidates yourself.

“Businesses are riding the wave of mobile technology, and automation is set to become more customer-centric and drive business growth, candidates with specialised skills in applications and software development are in high demand," says Jones. "Despite a plateau in IT jobs, the technology sector in Australia continues to grow faster than the IT candidate market. The skills gap is growing, and more needs to be done to encourage school-leavers to choose STEM-based university courses. This approach will ensure the future Australian employment landscape has the required tech-based skillsets.”

“The growing skills shortage is placing an upward pressure on salaries. Companies have to compete in a talent-short market for top candidates, which means offering a competitive remuneration package is key to attracting top talent. IT candidates can boost their standing in the market by upskilling, making professional development an attractive incentive for employees in today’s market.”

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