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IT staffing and the yo-yo effect

After attending Interop Las Vegas 2012 I can tell you two things: People love yo-yos, and IT staffing is still a problem for many companies.

First, the fun part. One of our most popular giveaways at our booth was a Yoh yo-yo. Yes, one of the most basic toys, which originated as a weapon (thanks to colleague Vik Long for the trivia), never failed to make booth visitors smile. I can only imagine the hundreds of people that are in their offices right now with the door closed trying out the toy. (Please note: We are not responsible for any damage or injuries that might occur.)

But I also can’t help but think about the people we spoke to that are struggling to find IT talent right now. My co-workers and I had some fun comparing the yo-yo to IT staffing challenges. Here are a few of our yo-yo-based observations.

Momentum. Guiding a yo-yo down is the easy part because gravity is working for you. The up part is the problem. You have to yank up to get the yo-yo going, and it won’t come all the way back up unless you’ve generated some momentum. IT staffing is similar. If you are on the down slope and not really hiring, you’re not thinking about building momentum for when things pick up. Many companies are seeing this now. They suddenly have unmet needs for certain skills because they haven’t had the talent in months or even years. Even in slow areas you need to forecast your requirements and build hiring momentum now, before you have needs.

Going to sleep. The sleep trick is when the yo-yo reaches the bottom and just spins. It’s a neat trick but takes some effort to bring it back up. Some well-designed yo-yos will spin for a long time and still come back up. With most, however, if you wait too long, it just won’t make it back to the top. Likewise, if your IT staffing plan or resources are asleep, it’s time to revisit them. If you think you can just go back to the way things were or the resources you used to use (like stale job postings), you might find that you’re unable to reach the hiring peaks you once could. Many companies are now vying for the same IT skills (think mobility) and doing anything but sitting at the bottom and spinning. Wake up your IT staffing plans now.

Tricks vs. the basics. The basic up-and-down yo-yo movement is fun, but still not easy for some people. That said, many would admit that they’d like to perform a trick or two. We had the pleasure of meeting a yo-yo expert that wowed the crowd at Interop (albeit at another booth). The tricks were great to watch, but the majority of people probably needed some basic yo-yo instruction before learning any tricks. The same is true for IT staffing. While many companies are dabbling in social media recruiting, most organizations would benefit from looking at the basics of their IT staffing plan and their recruiting resources before spending time on social media. A good recruiting plan covers the basics, such as qualifying suppliers, focusing recruiting efforts on crucial skill areas, and measuring results. I think Yo-Yo Joe would agree that tricks always work better when you have the basics down.

So look to the yo-yo for inspiration when you think about your IT staffing plans. And if you need a physical reminder, leave a comment below with your email address, and we might just contact you and send you your very own Yoh yo-yo. (Supplies are limited.)


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