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IT staffing crisisThe overall unemployment number is stubbornly high. Somewhere around 9%. There are lot’s of people out of work and many job seekers have applied to hundreds of jobs with no luck. The stories of difficult times are everywhere. Well, almost everywhere.

Technology workers seem to have gone basically unaffected by the current recession. The US IT unemployment rate dropped from 4.7% to 3.3% between March and August this year. 5% is the level that is considered full employment. So a rate of 3.3% actually means there is a shortage of IT workers. In fact, many IT categories are at or near 0% unemployment according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These categories are suffering from an extreme case of worker shortage.

These numbers would be alarming during boom times, but during a recession? They are quite shocking. What will happen to the technology job market once the economy really gets going? We are starting to see positive signs now, but imagine the challenges of finding qualified technical staff once the economy is back in full swing.

The number of US employers reporting difficulty in filling open IT positions jumped from 14% in 2010 to 52% in 2011, according to a survey by a leading global workforce solutions firm. This is a drastic change in the IT employment picture and one that is bound to get even more difficult as we recover.

One of the main reasons for the continued high demand for IT workers is that nearly every type of business in every industry relies on technology to improve all aspects of its operation. Banking, retail, biotech, health care, government, and even non-profits all rely on technology to manage and optimize their businesses. Not to mention the heavy use of IT workers by some of the leading technology companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and hundreds of others. This trend is only going to accelerate as we rely more and more on the innovations and efficiencies that technology provides.

The challenges of finding top IT talent has gotten so difficult that some companies have relied on “acqhiring” talent. This is the practices of buying, or acquiring, a company, shutting down its product, and bringing its talent on board. Companies that do this are basically buying blocks of IT workers in one fell swoop.

So what does this all mean? What if you are a company looking for IT talent? What if you are an IT worker looking for a job? Here are some answers:

If you are a company looking to hire IT workers:
– Unless you are Google, Apple, or a leading technology company, the best IT professionals probably won’t be knocking on your door.
– Make sure your job descriptions are accurate, and be prepared to accept applicants that aren’t the perfect fit.
– Hire for aptitude and offer training. The ramp up might be longer but the end result is often quite good.
– Consider using an IT staffing firm so you can leverage their talent pool and try out candidates on a temporary basis.
– If you find a good candidate be prepared to move quickly.

If you are an IT professional looking for work:
– Technology is changing at a rapid pace. Be sure to keep your skills and knowledge up to date.
– Just because the job description isn’t a perfect fit doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply.
– Be sure to clearly communicate any courses you are taking to gain new skills.
– Make an effort to find and communicate directly with an IT Manager/Director. HR doesn’t always have a complete understanding of the technology involved with each position.

2012 looks like it is going to be a challenging year for companies that are looking to hire IT workers. Prepare now and you will be better off as the shortage of workers worsens.

Jeff Monaghan
Marketing Director
ATR Intrernational

Download the 9 Must-ask Question That Will Guarantee a (near) Perfect IT Contractor Hire. It’s a must-read if you are looking for IT talent.

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