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  • Expert Interview Series: Stacy Chapman About What IT Positions are in Demand in 2016

Expert Interview Series: Stacy Chapman About What IT Positions are in Demand in 2016

Jan 28 , 2016


Trying to keep a handle on ALL of the tech skills in demand in 2016 would be a full-time job, says Stacy Chapman, CEO for social talent sourcing solution, SwoopTalent.

"Across all industries the data challenge continues - including analytics, data services, data architecture and 'big data' - as does the need for architecture, DevOps, machine learning, security, user experience and many others," Stacy says.

In addition, good programmers are in high demand, and not just in new technologies like Puppet, Sqoop and Groovy; programmers in Java, html, C#, and even legacy skills like PeopleSoft and Documentum continue to increase in price. And that's only a few examples.

Given the variety of needs, it's important to know what's happening with the skills that matter to your organization, Stacy says.

"If you DO need Documentum, for example, that's a whole different challenge than if you need Splunk," she says. "And knowing what skills are transferable will also matter, especially for skills in really short supply."

We recently checked in with Stacy to get more of her insight on IT recruiting in the new year. Here's what she had to say:

What do you attribute to the increase in demand for different IT positions in 2016?

It depends on the position. Demand for 3D printing technology skills, for example, is driven by the potential those technologies offer manufacturers. Demand for security skills is driven by very public breaches over the past few years. Big data, machine learning and related technologies are driven by diverse trends including the need to understand (and respond to) customers and markets better. And demand for legacy skills is driven by tech workers updating their skills while organizations defer the cost of switching - creating a different kind of rarity than emerging skills have, but one that is equally painful if you need those skills.

So, again, it's all about what YOU need in 2016.

What should businesses be doing to recruit talent that bring these skillsets to their organization?

I hate to answer every question with "it depends," but it depends.

The idea that one value proposition fits all technology talent is crazy - the art is in working out what value proposition your position at your organization brings to the table. Tech companies offer all kinds of benefits and in some geographies salaries are huge, but doing what others are doing won't necessarily get you the right talent. Businesses should definitely be looking at what talent competitors (not just business competitors) are doing, but don't necessarily copy.

Tech talent is a really hot topic, but don't forget we are talking about a diverse group of human beings who want different things - one person may seek stability and salary, while another equally skilled person might seek adventure and camaraderie. Those two people won't both be happy in the job you are trying to fill, and there are many permutations of what the people who make up "tech talent" want. I believe it's possible for any business to craft an affordable value proposition - and it's important to spend the time to do so.

How should businesses approach their search for this talent?

Many of the usual channels like job boards are working just fine for many jobs. But when you have tight labor markets, lots of competition and/or skills that add competitive advantage for the business, then you have a HOT skill situation, and it's worth taking the time to think more strategically.

One approach is passive sourcing, where you hunt out people who are not necessarily finding (or even looking for) your jobs through the usual channels. There is an enormous amount of data about talent available online and solutions like ours even aggregate all that data for you, so it's easier than ever to identify potential talent. However, with passive sourcing, you do need to build interest before talent will apply, so it's a slightly different approach than screening active candidates. A lot of companies are having great success with passive sourcing, using the open internet instead of paying for a headhunter's black book.

Another technique that I think is overlooked far too often is looking inside your own organization. In tech especially, there are a lot of people who improve their own skills outside their current jobs/employers - so you may already HAVE people who are learning or using emerging tech, you just haven't worked that out. Our smartest large customers are sourcing that internal talent actively and we're having fun helping them do it.

What do you think are the biggest mistakes businesses make from a recruiting standpoint? How can they improve their recruiting strategy?

Recruiting for every job with the same process and approach is a mistake I'm surprised to still see. Every business should have a method for segmenting or categorizing their roles so that recruiting knows ahead of time how important and how difficult it will be to fill - and hence apply the right approach from the outset. Proactively, even, with talent pool building for critical skills! Today we see the high touch techniques applied only when the normal approach has failed, which makes time to fill too high. I know that predicting the future isn't possible, but forecasting, anticipating and planning certainly are.

How can IT professionals keep their skills up to date to meet the needs of organizations today?

This gets easier all the time. Free or low-cost technical training is available in many places, from Stanford to Meetup groups. Not all of them necessarily get you certificates, but there are many tests available to prove your skills. The key is not how to do it, but to make sure you take the initiative if that's what you want to do.

What types of positions will there be less of a need for in the coming decade?

As always, new technologies will emerge, and other technologies will fade, so granular skills such as programming languages will change, but entire positions is a harder question. The obvious one is internal system administration and network admin will diminish as so much moves to the cloud.

We should also see a reduction in the number of implementation/customization consultants we've seen for huge systems like ERP, as cloud-based implementations theoretically reduce the need for them. And I'm hopeful that we'll need fewer trainers as software becomes more intuitive - but I've been hoping for THAT for decades, so I'm not holding my breath. It might depend on what happens with those user experience skills ...

What are some of the biggest trends you are following in the world of IT recruiting?

Most of the trends I watch are in the technologies that support recruiting. I'm excited about social sourcing, of course, but also big data management, granular labor market analysis, some really exciting developments in recruitment marketing, the promise of automated matching candidate <-> job, and new forms of testing that incorporate behavioral and personal aspects as well as technical skills. As always, lots of change and innovation in recruiting!

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