When your IT talent shortage is global

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CIO as Digital Leader

A lot of research is available about the IT talent shortage in the United States. The unemployment rate in just about any metropolitan area is close to zero for many functions, despite the recent slight slowdown in hiring linked to ever-greater cloud adoption.
For global companies, however, this is not only a headquarters or even a regional facility issue. Global organizations are experiencing talent shortages around the world, every day. For example, while you may have a strong team and local resource availability in one country, in another country you may have a tough time finding the same skills.
In some cases, you might be at a company with a super strong brand, which makes hiring a bit easier as you don’t need to explain what the company does. In either case, it is important to focus your hiring practices to fully explain three key areas:

Stand for Something: Make sure you sell working at your business as a culturally-enriching place. What I mean is, it can’t just be, “Yeah, this is the job – and go do it." Explain the values of your company, why it’s exciting, and why you get up in the morning. Make sure the candidate knows what your organization stands for.

Be Exciting: IT is exciting, has incredible opportunities and is a very vibrant place to learn continually. Explain that, and how IT is driving value to the company. It’s not only about the job; great IT people always want to learn, and you need to provide that learning to them.

Career Enhancement: Follow the steps above and everyone’s careers become enhanced, and we all grow.

In my opinion, every company is an IT company these days. At the same time, you have to frame to the business that you are not an independent IT company and that you are aligning yourselves to what the business needs. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work on new and exciting things and make it enticing for someone to join. It also doesn’t mean you can’t present a competitive package compared to a well-known company where the name sells a big piece of it.

Hiring people these days, at any level, is not about a fixed role. With all the incredible change in IT, you are most likely going to have to broaden and improve your skill set over the years, whatever your level today. There’s no question that the job that you start is not going to be the job that you end up with. It will change dramatically.

I recommend looking for people who can handle that, and are up to a significant challenge. Don’t look to hire individuals who are just operators, because we no longer live in a world of fancy global architectures with multiyear strategies to implement. You need both the personality and the skills to deal with constant change.

To my opening point, I don’t think IT departments are going away because of the cloud. Most IT organizations today run lean and core-conscious. So I don’t see the impact of cloud being that large because you’re only moving out of one very particular piece with the cloud, which is hardware. You still need the experts to go in and manage these systems in cases where the system in question is not truly Software-as-a-Service – which is not the majority today.

Unfortunately, the upshot is that the IT talent shortage will continue to be an issue – not only in the United States, but wherever IT operates.

Stuart Kippelman is the Chief Information Officer at Platform Specialty Products Corp. Previously, Stuart served as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Covanta, a world leader in waste-to-energy and renewable energy projects. As a valued member of executive management, Stuart was responsible for the global vision, strategy and operations of Covanta's IT organization.