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IT staffing now has to compete with the gamers

Have you ever looked at something like a smartphone and wondered, “How did we get here?” The world seems to move faster every day, and in the famous words of Ferris Bueller, “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Today, instead of a smartphone, I’m looking at gaming. Games are all over the place. If you own a cell phone or a tablet, you probably play at least one, if not several. And kids today -- when they’re not playing on their mobile devices, they’re playing on traditional consoles and computers.

For those in IT staffing, the games have begun: Companies and hiring managers must lure IT people away from the glitz of gaming to work in corporate IT departments and on development projects that don’t involve dragons, guns, or trolls.

Many IT managers are scratching their heads because gaming and several other areas (such as social networking) are draining the IT talent pool. Suddenly, the average IT hiring manager is forced to look at what Google or LinkedIn is doing to attract talent.

This didn’t happen overnight, but with the economy and the great recession in the limelight, changes in IT staffing probably snuck up on more than a few people.

A recent Computerworld article points out that there is mixed data from analysts on whether or not hiring is continuing to rise in the IT sector. This says to me that some areas are hiring while others are not. But it’s clear that there’s competition for IT talent from other industries. So you’re not only fighting for IT staff with your direct competitors; you could also be losing them to booming industries like gaming, healthcare, or telecom.

So, what do you do when another industry or department starts competing for the same skills? Here are a few suggestions:

Look for new talent streams. This might seem obvious, but it’s easier said than done. First, energize networking efforts on social media and with your current employees (see my next recommendation). Referrals are still the best source of successful candidates. Get out there, not just as a company but also as individuals working in IT. Have your managers actively engaged in networking.

Improve employee engagement. Today it’s not just what you say about your company, it’s what others -- including your employees -- say about your company. Making your company a better place to work and one that employees can easily brag about can mean more referrals and more candidates looking to get into your company. (And fewer people leaving.)

Ask for help. Your HR department and outsourcing partners should be ready to partner with you on hiring efforts. I believe that engaged IT hiring managers who communicate closely with HR and recruiting partners (providing good feedback, good job descriptions, and timely interaction) hire better people in a shorter period of time.

The gamers are used to strong competition. If IT departments and those in IT staffing don’t pick up their recruiting game, it could be GAME OVER.


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