Why your search for IT unicorns is coming up empty

Technology has been evolving rapidly over the past few years at a pace that shows no sign of abating, so it’s hardly a surprise that companies are encountering IT staffing challenges.

As CIO.com’s Rich Hein put it, “Finding perfect people who meet a laundry list of qualifications is a dubious task,” as many candidates simply don’t have the skills firms require to lead the pack.

Healthcare Business & Technology presented the perspectives of health care CIOs with regard to handling staffing shortages.

Edith Dees, vice president and CIO of Holy Spirit Health System, focuses her organization’s IT recruitment efforts on new graduates with soft skills, then devotes time and effort to augmenting their existing skill sets by offering industry and vendor certifications. She also noted that clearly laying out what’s required for a promotion helps motivate Holy Spirit Health System workers to better themselves by expanding their knowledge and broadening their areas of expertise.

Meanwhile, Springhill Medical Center CIO Mark Kilborn reported that he has found success with more of a “leading by example” process. As the news source explained, Kilborn exemplifies high-flying Springhill employees who rose through the ranks as a way of showing newcomers a concrete career advancement path to inspire and motivate them.

Of course, once you’ve successfully brought top talent on board, the focus must shift from recruitment to retention. To minimize employee churn at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano, Director of Information Technology Nayan Patel helps employees manage their time more effectively. Patel’s goal is to mitigate instances of burnout that may result in staff members electing to go elsewhere or even leave the field altogether.

A host of challenges
Along with skills gaps and difficulty hiring and retaining specialized workers, David Foote, chief analyst and co-founder of Foote Partners, identified a number of IT recruitment challenges with which CIOs and other IT executives are grappling, not just within the health care sector but other industries as well. As CIO.com reported, these include the following:

1) Inconsistency/inaccuracy in job titles and descriptions
It’s hard for recruiters to express what they’re looking for – and for job candidates to search for appropriate positions – if job titles vary from company to company. Outdated or inaccurate descriptions of roles further muddy the waters.

2) Skilled tech professionals who don’t want to be promoted into management roles
The best leaders are often those who rise through the ranks and remember what it was like to walk in the shoes of the people they now oversee. That being said, many tech gurus are unwilling to make the transition to management.

3) Unequal pay
Workers at the same level as each other may experience different pay rates depending on their departments. Those who believe they’re making less than their colleagues may quickly grow disgruntled.

4) Outdated incentive plans
The main purpose of an incentive plan is to motivate workers. If these initiatives miss the mark or are simply out of touch, then prospective employees may consider looking to competitors with more robust offerings.

5) Getting the C-suite on board with IT investment
To keep up with the rapid pace of technological evolution, CIOs need to secure certain budgetary allowances that other members of the C-suite may not be eager to give. Potential employees who recognize that the technology a firm has at its disposal isn’t exactly state of the art might seek out a more impressive suite at another company.

Ultimately, Foote advised executives eager to better handle the IT staffing shortage to rethink job descriptions, assess and then reassess their IT skills requirements, provide their existing staff with additional training, set up viable career progression paths, create college recruitment programs and ultimately not be afraid to think outside the box.

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