Talk about confusing! IT managers are responsible for bringing the best and brightest into your organization. However, in the field of IT, just exactly what this means is difficult to pin down – we keep changing our minds! IT departments today look nothing like the IT departments of the 80’s, 90’s, and even early 2000. Once upon a time the best IT workers were those with the sharpest tech skills. Then they were told to become more like the business side of the business. Next IT certifications were all the rage (I blame Cisco for this), next they were told to get really good at one technology, oh, but don’t allow yourself to be pigeon-holed into just one technology. What’s a nerd to do?
In a recent set of interviews with CIOs that Deb Perelman over at eWeek did, she discovered that they weren’t really looking for specific skills such as SAP, Oracle Financials, or certain business skills when they did IT hiring. Rather they were looking for more of that touchy-feely stuff: enthusiasm, the ability to be flexible, and of course the ability to get things done.
What makes an IT worker different from workers in other departments at a company is that they need to be passionate about technology. Since technology is such a large part of the IT world, if an employee doesn’t love it and want to be constantly finding out more about what can be done with it, then there is a good chance that burnout will occur sooner than later. A love of technology does not mean that CIOs are looking for the classic “put ’em in the closet” techie. The ability to relate to others and share information is now recognized as being just as important as technology skills.
If CIOs ran the world (and they don’t), then they’d be able to hire IT staffers who had lots of experience. What they are really looking for are folks who have done something over and over again so many times that it has become second nature to them. What would make such a person an even better find would be if they had good industry experience in the industries that a particular company works. A key marker of this type of IT employee is that they often move in and out of the IT department to other departments such as marketing.
We all know that IT departments at most companys have taken a number of hits over the past several years. Downsizing, offshoring, and other events have taken a toll on IT worker morale. CIOs realize this; however, they want / need their IT departments to be full of enthusiastic workers. It’s important to note here that this is not a discussion about having a more youthful department – young folks can be just as glum as older ones. Rather, CIOs want elements of flexibility and excitement to come back into their departments.
What about all those certifications that were supposed to be our ticket to lifetime employment? It turns out that CIOs don’t think that much of them these days. Instead, what they are looking for is experience and a history of executing projects successfully. These days it’s really all about your ability to get the job done.
CIOs realize that the job market for IT professionals will keep growing through 2016. Things are going to get tricky because the Baby Boomers are getting ready to leave the market and the Gen X/Y folks don’t have the numbers needed to make up for the exodus. What this means for CIOs is that they are going to have to start growing their own talent internally. All of a sudden that enthusiasm stuff starts to become a lot more important.
Do you feel that your department is filled with enthusiastic people? Do the people in your department have good IT instincts? Are you still thinking about getting more certifications? If so, what one? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.