Companies are only as good as the people they employ. The right skills and experience paired with the aptitude for continued growth is key for any role, but are critical in the technology space. Information technology has jumped the bounds of the traditional IT department, and now functions as both the heart and circulatory systems of business, driving its services, products, processes and operations. As a result, having the right technology talent has never been more important.

It has also never been more difficult.

Alarming Gap

Unemployment for IT professionals is near record lows that have not been seen for almost a decade, with available jobs outnumbering available professionals by a large margin. Unfortunately, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Analysis shows an alarming skills gap over the next five years. As referenced in a White House blog, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that by 2020, there will be 1.4 million new computer science jobs, but only 400,000 trained professionals to fill them. As a result, IT talent has more choices than ever about where they work, how they work, and with whom they work. The interconnected world of global online networking and social media enables these professionals to know their worth in the market. Before an initial screening call, or even submitting a resume, they can know more than ever about hiring companies thanks to access to online resources that provide information about everything from the interview process to salaries to the unvarnished “truth” from veteran employees about working for the company.

Selective Talent

The abundance of jobs and access to information has dramatically changed the job hunting dynamic. Companies are no longer selecting IT talent — instead, IT talent is selecting companies. So when technology is critical to a business’ operations and growth, but technology talent is harder than ever to find — how do you win the war for talent?
Acknowledge that it is war, and like any war, you need battle strategies that turn disadvantages into advantages.

Expand Your Scope

Businesses can start by looking beyond their traditional borders. The talent that’s needed may be hard to find in your backyard, your town or even your country. But just as IT professionals’ networks have become global, so has the technology talent pool. A wide range of solutions exist to tap into this global talent base, including bringing the talent to you through on-shoring and sponsorships, or taking the work to the talent through near-shoring or off-shoring.

Fostering and supporting diversity initiatives is another way to access technology talent. Many of these professionals have historically been less visible to businesses. Because solving tomorrow’s business challenges requires innovative ideas that come from having different minds around the table, attracting and retaining diverse technology talent can be a key to the innovation and creativity that is required to develop the next generation of technology services and solutions.

One of the most effective ways to secure talent in your backyard is to invest in your existing team. Building a culture of learning and development provides a path for technology talent to continue to grow their skills, and apply them for the benefit of your organization. Reaching beyond your organization to actively support and promote STEM initiatives helps to reverse the long-term skills gap, ensuring a more robust technology talent pool.

As the CEO of a technology company, I can assure you the war for talent is real, and it’s raging. Yesterday’s staffing models will not fill today and tomorrow’s talent gap. Businesses that are not actively fighting to win run the risk of losing more than just access to today’s technology talent. They risk losing their ability to compete and win in today’s technology-driven global markets.

Prepare for battle!