Overcoming the Tech skills gap

It seems like everyone is looking for technology workers, but qualified ones are in short supply. Everyone up to and including the President of the United States is talking about the shortage in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills. So how do we find qualified tech talent?

An article by CIO publisher emeritus Gary Beach outlines the vaunted tech skills gap: 120,000 new jobs created in the U.S. annually requiring workers with skills and degrees in computer science. That’s great, right? The bad news: the U.S. only churns out 49,000 computer science degrees every year. This leaves 71,000 jobs without qualified candidates.

The point is this: there is a lot of competition out there for what amounts to only a few jobs. But as an employer, how can you get some of those qualified workers to come work for your company? Here are a few tips that may be helpful.

Announce your presence. Be sure to post your job openings in a place where people can actually see them. There are tons of job boards out there; research them and choose the ones you think will give you the best chance of lining up top-notch talent. Spend time writing your job description; use targeted keywords and be complete. This blog posting from Base36 highlights writing strategies for tech-focused job descriptions.

Learn what your job candidates have…and don’t expect the world. Beach notes one problem is employers tend to overreach on hires, looking for the “perfect candidate” and passing up several good ones in the process. He quotes “a job-seeking IT executive, who said ‘employers are advertising for purple squirrels and pink unicorns. They want the perfect job candidate and that person just doesn’t exist.’” Remember: a solid prospect can be trained and molded into a superstar.

Be flexible. The Base36 post lists several factors that make job candidates feel welcome, listing items like good pay, providing them the latest tech toys, part-time telecommuting, strong communication and offering early contract extensions. Be creative with perks like these; they can prove valuable and serve you well, if you let them. “If you do these five things, it won’t matter if you have a ping pong table or not. The top technical talent will feel valued, and therefore sold, on your company.”

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