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How to win the war for IT talent

Sharon Florentine | Jan. 22, 2016
The battle to hire IT professionals is only going to get more brutal in 2016. Even IT heavyweights are struggling to find IT talent and are exploring unorthodox methods for sourcing and screening.

Search globally, promote internally, leverage mobility

The perceived shortage of engineering talent isn't just a U.S. problem, it's global. Tech giant Adobe is having success with a global sourcing push that focuses on finding the best and brightest through campus recruiting, and then developing that talent internally as skills and experience grows, says William Taylor, Adobe's global head of mobility. Adobe also encourages talent to consider opportunities outside the U.S. for training and growth, offering opportunities in the Netherlands, Italy and the UK as well as searching for programming talent in Eastern European countries like Romania, says Taylor.

"Even with H1B visas and work visas, there's typically only three years of work eligibility in the U.S. for those visa holders -- so the U.S. is losing that talent. We're trying to find that talent where it is, in areas like Romania and the Ukraine where there are burgeoning pockets of developers, for instance," Taylor says. Sourcing and hiring globally can help to fill skills gaps in the short term and continuing emphasis on professional development and training can grow that talent for the long term, he says.

"One of the biggest motivations for IT talent is being able to work on interesting projects that impact a lot of people's lives -- we try to constantly reinvent ourselves as a company so our talent is always working on interesting projects and they're making an impact on the people who use the products. Then, we offer leadership training and professional development so they're constantly engaged in growing themselves internally; we make it a point to fill at least one-third of our open roles from internal candidates," Taylor says.

Adobe also makes major investments in campus recruiting programs to ensure it has a robust pipeline of talent for entry-level roles or for new and emerging technology skills, he says. "We have active campus recruiting programs, and they've been very successful. Pick a well-known computer science school -- say, Stanford, or MIT, or Harvey Mudd, and we've got a presence there. We're also working closely with our current employees' alma maters to help encourage their classmates or fellow alumni to consider coming to work with us -- it's a great way to know that the skills and the experience are going to be a fit, but also culturally to ensure they'll be a great fit," he says.

Be what your talent wants

Focusing on what makes your company attractive to talent can also be helpful and drive better results, says Leela Srinivasan, chief marketing officer for applicant tracking and recruiting software solutions company Lever. It's one reason many software engineers and programmers gravitate toward startups and hot new companies and shy away from larger, more established IT firms, she says. But every firm that's competing for IT talent can take a page from a startup's playbook by focusing on what motivates IT workers.


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