Win the IT talent war in 2012: 5 keys

Competition for IT professionals is expected to be fierce in 2012. Here’s how your department can avoid losing current and potential employees to other organizations.

A majority of companies plan on adding IT jobs in 2012, according to a recent survey from tech-centric job board Dice.com. As a result of the increased competition for talent, salaries for IT pros are expected to rise.

Among the 1,200 IT managers and IT recruiters surveyed:

  1. 65% said their companies or client organizations will add IT staff in the first half of 2012
  2. 27% will expand their staffs by at least 20% over the next six months
  3. 42% expect starting salaries for IT hires to increase over the next year, and
  4. Only 16% expect any IT staff to be laid off in the first half of 2012.

That competition has created challenges for organizations in attracting qualified IT professionals. Among the survey respondents with open positions to fill, nearly half (48%) say it’s taking longer to hire people than it did a year ago.

Retention is also getting more difficult — 38% of survey respondents expect more of their IT employees to quit their jobs this year than did so in 2012.

Long story short, experts predict 2012 will be a year many IT professionals change jobs — especially those who may have felt overworked and underpaid in their current position, but stuck around because of the sluggish economy.

Now that the economic picture has improved — at least as far as the IT job market is concerned — those employees will rush out the door, experts warn.

Here are some ways your organization can prevent other companies from poaching your IT staff, and get talented new hires on board before your competitors do:

  1. Review compensation practices — Now’s a good time for all organizations to take another look at the salaries they’re offering IT pros and compare them to current market rates.
  2. Consider internship programs — Experts predict many companies will be hiring entry-level IT employees in 2012. Organizations can get a leg up by working with colleges and creating internship programs to get early access to the emerging talent pool.
  3. Emphasize cutting edge tech — IT is a fast moving field, and the chance to work with new technology and boost skills in up-and-coming areas is worth as much or more than a high salary to many IT pros. When recruiting, emphasize that aspect of any job in which it’s applicable, and consider giving your best current employees those kinds of opportunities.
  4. Look at employees’ workloads — As IT managers likely know, a common complaint among technology professionals is that they’re overworked. It may be worth reexamining how the department is organized and duties are designated and see if there’s anything that can be done to avoid that.
  5. Focus retention efforts — While competition will be high overall, IT managers will have to work extra hard to keep employees with skills in a few areas. The most sought-after IT pros in 2012 will include mobile developers, software developers, user experience designers and information security professionals, according to staffing firm Robert Half International.