It has been almost 25 years since McKinsey & Co. introduced the term “talent war” to the world. For almost a quarter of a century CIOs have been locked in a Sisyphean battle to attract and retain the IT talent necessary to create competitive advantage.

Every year, “talent” is one of the top challenges facing IT organizations. Every year, lack of critical IT skills is blamed for failure to deliver the full promise of IT investments. Is there something CIOs can do to transcend this endless cycle of lament?

Talent matters — but is ‘war’ the right metaphor?

In his 2001 best-seller, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t, author Jim Collins reminds us that “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” In The Talent Delusion: Why Data, Not Intuition, Is the Key to Unlocking Human Potential, from 2017, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic explains that “All organizations have problems and they nearly always concern people.” Having the right people, with the right skills, working on the right tasks is the key to future success.

A recent report from Korn Ferry Institute predicts that by 2030 the tech industry labor-skill shortage will reach 4.3 million (85 million worker short fall for all skills), costing the global economy $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues. 

Yet, despite these projections, in today’s globalized and digitized environment, where talent can be sourced from almost anywhere, shouldn’t IT leaders be able to de-escalate the “War for Talent”?

I am not certain “war” is the appropriate metaphor for dealing with the massively complex human capital predicament CIOs are working through. While this point may seem pedantic on its surface, given that many IT leaders carry the metaphor through to their hiring and retention strategies, it is anything but.

War, for example, implies there are “enemies.” Who are the enemies in this “war”? Other companies? Demographic? Employees? A lack of financial resources? The traditional answer would be your hiring competitors, which, with every company becoming in some sense a technology company, is just about every business out there. How do you construct a campaign against that?

Unfortunately, the “war” metaphor, and its tendency toward dualities, is pervasive in hiring strategies and approaches. The we/they, manager/staff, company/employee dualism, for example, is dysfunctional. The concept of thinking of employees as “enemies” needing to be captured via pay packages and “employee experience” to labor toward some seemingly arbitrarily corporate financial objective is ludicrous and unsustainable. Partnership — finding a mutually agreeable path forward is a better way of thinking about the future of work.

Re-thinking work management and motivation

Right now, many employees and employers are not on the same page regarding productivity and performance measurement, pay, and commuting and remote work issues.

In a recent survey of more than 20,000 people, Microsoft found that 87% of employees say they are productive at work, while only 12% of leaders have confidence that their workers are being productive.

Moreover, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. Every executive I have spoken with has a friend who knows a colleague employed in technology enjoying a six-figure-plus salary while they essentially ski in Idaho, snorkel in Bali, or sip margaritas on the Yucatán Peninsula.

In a world of increasing pay transparency, employee outcome transparency — determining every employee’s contribution — is required as well. But this doesn’t mean going as far as one overzealous manager who required two meetings every day: one at the start of the day to decide what everyone should do and one at the end to determine what was actually accomplished. And we are seeing the downside of top-down exhortations to “work hard or else” unfold at Twitter.

Instead, CIOs need to implement a performance management system that prevents slackers from abusing the system while at the same time stimulating the better angels of an employee’s creativity and work ethic. 

This means creating a culture where people want to work and establishing systems for work that people want to do.

Building a workplace that works

Many years ago, some IT organizations embraced the mantra, “We suck less,” by which they meant: We may not be the very best in the world, but we certainly aren’t the worst.

The good news for IT hiring managers is that a lot of places that employed lots of talented IT professionals are starting to “suck more.” Tech giants in Silicon Valley are exfoliating staff at rates never seen before. More than 100,000 tech workers have been returned via layoffs to the talent pool.

I suggest CIOs commit themselves to making IT a great place to work for all employees paying particular attention to not just to being a good place for women to work but being the best place for them to work. This would include investments in childcare, for example, as well as better maternity leave policies and support for perimenopause and menopause counseling and support services, given that more than 1 million American women enter menopause each year, and one in ten women employed during menopause leave their job due to symptoms.

This also means improving employee experience by implementing hassle-free workplace technology, which will be a great way to attract and retain quality IT staff. According to the Virgin Media O2 Business and Censuswide Battle for Talent survey, 72% of workers are frustrated at least once a week by the poor quality or lack of business technology available to them, and 48% say that poor-quality business technology makes them more likely to resign from their jobs within the next six months.

A new metaphor for talent acquisition

Creating a workplace culture where candidates want to work and employees want to stay will assuredly give you an advantage in the talent market, but so too will embracing a new central metaphor for your talent acquisition strategy.

Higher-ed inadequacies and demographic realities — a million fewer college students enrolled in 2021 than in 2019 — have created a human capital pipeline unable to deliver a reliable stream of fit-for-purpose technology professionals.  

Rather than “battle-plan” how to “win” given this faltering human capital pipeline, the only rational alternative is to create your own talent supply chain. Partnering with organizations such as Year Up and NPower, working with universities, and establishing apprenticeships are just a few of the ways to take your IT organization out of the “battle theater” and into a better place — one less ruled by the mentality of war and instead guided by supply chain imperatives: integration and orchestration.

Hiring

In the war for talent, sometimes the solution is right in front of you. For businesses struggling to compete for tech talent, investing in your current talent through upskilling and training initiatives can provide invaluable returns, as many IT leaders are finding.

A study from Korn Ferry estimates that by 2030 more than 85 million jobs will go unfilled due to a lack of available talent, a talent shortage that could result in the loss of $8.5 trillion annual revenue globally. While automation may be able to fill some gaps, the study also posits that human capital will be just as important as automation in the future, leaving organizations without robust training programs subject to the whims of a talent market in short supply.

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, companies have steadily dropped the ball on workforce training and upskilling since the 1970s. Oftentimes, workers are pushed to meet skills gaps without the necessary training, setting the employee and business up for potential failure. But shifts in workforce strategies in recent years have seen more companies developing strong internal training programs to reskill, upskill, and promote employees within the organization.

In addition to helping fill skills gaps, investing in the career growth of your employees can also foster a greater sense of trust, leading to a more resilient and productive workforce that is less likely to quit, according to data from Gallup. The return on investment in internal workforce training and upskilling programs can’t be overlooked, as the successes of the following four companies can attest.

Capital Group invests in careers for the long run

For financial services company Capital Group, the secret to competing in a tight IT talent market is to stay focused on a long-term employee investment strategy. Capital Group leadership believes employee satisfaction is just as important as customer satisfaction, and a key part of that is ensuring that employees have ample opportunity to grow their careers within the company. This includes internal bootcamps, courses for developing subject matter expertise, and an internal talent marketplace that gives employees more mobility within the organization.

Employees can also explore various career paths within Capital Group through its Technology Rotational Experience (TREx) program, a 25-month career development program that places participants across three different IT teams. Through TREx, employees can gain experience in other departments, work with new technologies, and identify whether there’s something new that they might be interested in working on moving forward.

“We focus on the long term,” says Global CIO Marta Zarraga. “Every single decision we make is based on the healthiness of the organization long term.”

And that includes ensuring employees can stay and grow with Capital Group, rather than leaving the organization to move their careers forward. TREx and other internal training programs, which include bootcamps, “learning journeys” for developing subject matter expertise, and mentorships, make employees feel valued and reinforce the organization’s culture of growth and learning, while also meeting organizational talent needs in IT departments.

“I can show up as myself and develop the skills and confidence for my career in software development within the financial industry. From early on my contributions at work have been respected, and I’ve found it very easy to reach out and ask questions to people on different teams,” says Aimee Oz [they/them], a software development engineer at Capital Group who participated in an internal bootcamp.

Progressive bootcamp bridges skills gap

Insurance company Progressive has developed an in-house IT Programmer Bootcamp to reskill non-technical staff for technical roles within the organization to meet skills and talent gaps in the organization. And by turning inward to find qualified candidates within its own workforce, Progressive can also leverage the wealth of knowledge candidates already have about the organization, while “knocking down some of those barriers of eligibility for some of these tech jobs,” says Stephanie Duca, leadership development consultant at Progressive, and leader of the IT Bootcamp program.

The pilot program was launched in 2021 with eight participants who came from non-IT roles such as customer support, underwriting, and claims. Employees attend the 15-week intensive training program full-time and are compensated for their time in the program, ensuring they will be able to focus entirely on the training. Employees do not need to have a background in tech to join the program and they are guaranteed a job placement along with adjusted compensation to reflect their new role. Progressive plans to continue expanding this program to include other areas of focus, such as data analytics roles.

“I just know that it’s sparked some real passion and an appreciation for Progressive — our employees see that we want to invest in them and keep them here and retain them,” says Duca.

Altria’s career development focus reaps rewards

Fostering career development is a key strategy for retaining vital talent. At tobacco company Altria Group, employees are given the chance to engage in upskilling and training, gain experience working in departments outside their own, and utilize the company’s structured career planning process. In fact, Altria’s dedication to investing in employees earned them first place for career development on IDG’s Best Places to Work 2021 survey.

Career development is a focus for all employees, even entry-level workers, and everyone is given several opportunities to grow their skills and learn new technologies. For example, an entry-level code developer at Altria will be thrown into highly technical work right away, so they gain experience fast. And then throughout their first five to six years with the company, they will be moved around IT departments to work on different projects, gaining more experience and potentially finding out what they’re most passionate about.

“In many cases, we’re trying to put them into a role that ultimately is going to make them sweat — it’s going to really challenge them,” says Dan Cornell, vice president and CIO of Altria Group.

Employees also go through an annual talent planning review process to assess where they are in their careers, what they aspire to within the organization, and how they want to shape their career moving forward. Managers can identify areas for growth, what skills can be developed, opportunities for training, and potential experiences in other departments they might benefit from. There’s also a heavy focus on helping employees pave a career path if they aren’t interested in leadership positions. Oftentimes, it can feel like the only way up is the leadership path, but helping employees discover there are other paths within the organization can go a long way for retention.  

Talent development pays off at Capital One

Upskilling and cross-training programs are key factors in improving employee productivity, retaining top talent, and filling skills gaps. Financial services company Capital One focuses on “developing the whole person” by leveraging internal professional development programs, including a full-stack development academy, the Capital One Developer Academy (CODA), and Capital One Tech College.

With over 11,000 engineers across more than 2,000 agile teams, Capital One has worked to run individual teams as if they’re each a small business. It’s a strategy that allows the large organization to stay agile, while also attracting and retaining engineering talent through the promise of getting to work on open-source projects, in an agile environment, and on a small team.

“It keeps a big company very nimble, creates that autonomy and then drives a lot of that team dynamic and team culture down into the other groups of folks that are releasing software every day of every week to our customers and our associates,” says Mike Eason, senior vice president and CIO of enterprise data and machine learning engineering at Capital One.

Its CODA initiative is a six-month software engineering program for full-time Capital One employees to learn full-stack development principles. It helps employees inside or outside of IT get the training they need to become a software engineer within the organization. The Capital One Tech College focuses more on upskilling employees through free training and certification courses, with opportunities to attend in-person and online courses on their own time. The investment in employees helps Capital One retain its best tech talent, while also cultivating stronger tech skills and expertise through the ranks.

IT Skills, IT Training 

A bank teller, a marketer, and an operations product owner at TruStone Financial Credit Union each had a knack for technology, but they didn’t think it would lead to a job in the IT department. Yet all three are now on CIO Gary Jeter’s IT team, and not because he’s desperate for bodies. Formal and informal programs at the credit union help Jeter find hidden IT gems inside the 600-person organization.

In the past year alone, six new additions to the IT team have come from other TruStone departments. IT’s “walk in their shoes” job shadowing initiative and the company’s formal leadership training program help employees find career growth inside the company, but Jeter credits the attraction to the IT department, in particular to its well-regarded culture and its career-progression track, which is harder to find in other areas of the midsize company.

Above all, these transfers must be a good culture fit with IT, Jeter says. “I want people who are running to us, not people who are running away from a situation,” he adds.

Finding IT talent inside the organization benefits both the employee and the CIO. Recent layoffs and reigned-in hiring trends at some organizations might make the IT department an appealing option for technology-inclined employees. At the same time, CIOs who are unable or reluctant to hire replacements at salaries that are significantly higher than those who left might be able to transition talent into IT without having to pay big salary bumps, which are estimated at 5-6% above existing levels for new hires, according to Janco and Associates. Plus, these employees already know the business. And of course, organizations benefit by retaining employees.

Here are five ways that companies are finding hidden IT talent inside their own organization.

Hire leaders and train skills

Jeter follows the mantra, hire leaders and train skills, “with leaders being people who have that drive to learn,” he says. In conversations with these interested employees, he’s looking for evidence of a curious mind, so he’ll ask about hobbies, for example. The teller didn’t have a college degree but explained she was on the robotics team in high school and taught herself Python coding.

“When you’re constantly going after [tech interests] outside of work, you’re probably going to come in and do a great job,” Jeter says. Today, the former teller is an IT systems analyst supporting mortgage applications.

Jeter will also evaluate the candidate’s reasoning skills by asking questions like, “How many piano tuners are there in Minneapolis?” Jeter says. “The answer doesn’t matter, it’s the logic that they use,” such as considering how many people play the piano, how many pianos could be in the city, and how many pianos must one tuner service to make a living.

Internal skills marketplaces

Internal skills marketplaces are emerging as a way to retain tech workers while also meeting demands for agile digital environments. Millennial tech workers often report feeling “trapped in the org chart” with a predefined job description that limits their work, says Jonathan Pearce, workforce strategies lead at Deloitte Consulting. The feeling is, “it would be easier to keep growing my career if I look outside the organization rather than inside. There’s no opportunity to put my skill sets out on the table.” Meanwhile, project managers need to connect work that needs to be done with the right set of skills, some that might come from some subfunction of IT. Internal skills marketplaces meet both needs by matching workers’ skill sets, not their job titles, with the work that needs to be done.

Navy Federal Credit Union discovers hidden IT talent with its talent optimization program, which began in 2016. “We knew there was tech talent in the credit union that doesn’t work in IT,” says CIO Tony Gallardy. “The question was how do we find these people?” His team used a talent assessment tool and identified 10 candidates for its pilot program. Each went through nine months of training and then integrated into IT. Today HR runs the talent optimization program and has expanded into other areas, including mission data, which is a subset of IT, and digital labs. More than 30 people have come to IT through the program, Gallardy says.

Some enterprises use AI-driven skills management platforms as a talent assessment tool to match peoples’ skills to IT. Consumer goods company Unilever, for instance, used its AI-driven internal talent marketplace to redeploy more than 8,000 employees during the pandemic. 

An internal talent marketplace can also reduce internal hiring bias and increase networking that promotes diversity. Hiring managers can focus just on skill sets and years of experience rather than education by removing that visible field, for instance. Others use the platform to build mentorship relationships that are senior-to-junior, junior-to-senior, peer-to-peer, and expert-to-novice, which breaks down taboos in relationships, connects people globally, and facilitates meaningful work and retention.

Bootcamps

Training programs like IT bootcamps have become increasingly important tools for creating new opportunities for employees — all while helping to fill key IT roles.

Insurance company Progressive saw an opportunity to fill important roles by investing in its own employees who already have a wealth of knowledge about the organization, while also knocking down some of the eligibility barriers for some tech jobs.

The Progressive IT Bootcamp pilot program launched in 2021 with eight participants from customer support, underwriting and claims departments, who graduated in November and now work as IT apps programmer associates on teams across the company.

The bootcamp team worked with HR to identify certain customer-facing roles and invited members to apply. The team emphasized that employees didn’t need a tech background or a degree in tech — all the experience and background would be provided to them through the bootcamp.

Once bootcamp candidates were identified and accepted, they were taken out of their previous roles and put into the 15-week intensive training program where they learned C#, .NET, and other skills necessary for their new role.

Employees are paid during their training and are aided by a training assistant who is also a full-time Progressive programmer that helps connect the dots of what they are learning to how it would apply in their new roles. Program participants also report directly to an IT manager.

The company is now working on another version of the program, focusing on analyst roles, and plans to include other tech roles in the future.

Career-change programs

Capital One’s dedication to career development has helped motivate employees to stay despite waves of resignations in other organizations. One of its programs, the in-house Capital One Tech College gives employees both inside and outside of IT the opportunity to develop their tech skills. It gives access to thousands of free training and certification courses in subjects such as agile, cloud, cybersecurity, data, machine learning and AI, as well as mobile and software engineering. The Tech College offers both live classes and pre-recorded courses to fit employees’ schedules and learning styles.

Through the Tech College, Capital One can develop the necessary skills in-house, while also giving employees the opportunity to grow and expand their careers and skillsets, according to Mike Eason, senior vice president and CIO of enterprise data and machine learning engineering at Capital One.

Eason himself says that he’s had about 15 different roles at Capital One over the past 20 years and notes that the formal process around career development helps employees find what they’re passionate about without having to leave the company. “We really want to invest in the whole person versus getting them pigeonholed in doing the same thing,” says Eason.

Leveraging internal sources

Nobody knows the hidden IT talents of non-IT employees better than their managers and co-workers.  At TruStone, business leaders and managers are open to recognizing employees with IT potential that could benefit both the employee’s career and the company. “We’re transparent that this would be a great person for [an IT] career progression, so maybe they should come into IT,” Jeter says.

Jeter often discovers talent through his team’s product management consults inside the organization. “With a lot of scaled agile framework, we have product owners that sit outside of IT but within the business in areas like consumer lending, member services, or mortgages. We have technologies to align with them and they orchestrate the backlog” and other supporting duties, Jeter says. “They see what IT does, and we see what they do — and some of them want to come into IT.”

IT scored a new team member recently after a product owner in operations worked with IT on a product management consult. He had been with the company for nine years and worked in training before business operations. Jeter brought him into IT and today he works with consumer lending applications. “He knows the business and now he’s learning the technology.”

Getting these transfers up to speed and fully operational takes time, Jeter says. “Some learn the technical aspects of the business at different rates than others.” Jeter’s VPs and managers must pivot from “being a doer to being a coach,” he says. “We also spend a lot of time on performance management sessions and making sure we have development plans.” But the effort is worth it, he says.

“Showing that you invest in employees attracts talent internally,” Jeter says. “You’re giving them those skill sets to launch their career.”

Hiring, IT Training 

Demand for tech workers remains high, with no signs of easing up.

The proof is in the numbers: 319,652 job postings for IT workers in August, according to CompTIA, a nonprofit trade association issuing IT professional certifications. The month before there were 371,847.

That kind of competition for talent puts pressure on CIOs and their recruitment teams to be strategic in their hiring; they can’t afford to make mistakes if they want to successfully fill open positions.

With that in mind, we asked several leaders experienced in recruiting and hiring IT talent about the mistakes they see that makes hiring harder. Here’s what they say.

1. Always looking to hire externally

“A lot of people in IT default to hiring instead of looking to grow their teams; knowing when and when not to hire is a muscle that has yet to be fully developed,” says Will Markow, vice president of applied research at Lightcast (formerly Emsi Burning Glass), a labor market data analytics firm. Markow notes that his firm’s research shows that hiring external candidates takes more time to fill roles and costs $15,000-plus extra in salary costs. Plus, it signals to your existing staffers that there’s limited growth opportunities, making it more likely they’ll look for new jobs elsewhere.

2. But also promoting internal candidates when you really should hire

Despite his support for hiring from within, Markow says CIOs must be selective about internal promotions. “You can’t upskill for everything; you will have to go out and hire for some things,” he says. “Training in some cases can be faster than hiring, but in some cases, when you need them yesterday, you can’t wait to train up your existing workforce.”

3. Training up when workers have no place to go

Markow says he has seen CIOs with a mismatch between existing training programs and their projected staffing needs, a situation that can leave both managers and workers frustrated. “Sometimes CIOs invest in training their people but don’t have a clear next step for these people,” he says. Moreover, he says, “the CIOs don’t have a good succession plan, so when those people move into the new positions there’s also no one to backfill their [old] roles.”

4. Failing to align IT hiring with business objectives

With IT now thoroughly intertwined with business processes, CIOs need to tightly couple their hiring strategies with their organization’s roadmap, says Seth Robinson, CompTIA’s vice president for industry research. That requires a solid understanding of business objectives, so, for example, if the C-suite talks about their data plans you know whether that means upskilling a SQL developer already on the team or hiring a data scientist.

5. Seeking new hires a bit too late

“We see employers invest in a new technology, and they spend a lot of money for it, before realizing they don’t have anyone with the right skills to operate it,” Markow says. He worked with one company that had invested in data analytics software that sat idle for six months while they identified and trained staff to take on its daily operations.

7. Insisting on brand-name job experiences

Seeking candidates with experiences at big-name companies is another hiring mistake, particularly at companies located in geographic tech hot spots, says Eric Tan, CIO at software maker Coupa. “I see too many of my peers who want people only with those ‘really good resumes,’” he says. Yes, those companies tend to offer stellar training for their workers, but they’re hardly the only places that produce competent talent. Tan points to his company’s veteran program, which has helped him staff about 20% of his team with top-caliber workers with high degrees of perseverance and loyalty.

8. Targeting only top-tier colleges

Similarly, Tan says CIOs should expand their recruitment efforts beyond the well-known tech colleges — something he says he does with great results. His company partners with the University of Nevada, Reno and the training program Year Up to identify and hire candidates coming through their programs.

9. Relying too much on prescreening tech

Technology certainly enables recruiting teams to quickly evaluate resumes, but hiring teams “can lose a lot of people in the prescreening who could be good candidates,” says Ximena Hartsock, CEO and co-founder of BuildWithin, a software platform for creating and managing apprenticeship and employee learning programs. That’s a hard lose in a tight labor market. Hartsock says hiring managers who are overly reliant on such technology, including applicant tracking systems, may miss resumes that don’t fit preset criteria but may still show lots of potential.

10. Overlooking non-IT talent

Tan talks up one of his recent recruits, a former manager at a high-end retail store. That role had exposed her to reams of data and data analysis, which in Tan’s eyes made her a great candidate for a data role he had on his team. He says he was right. “We should be looking for talent beyond the traditional IT profession,” he adds.

11. Not getting specific on skills

You need a programmer, but the job post for the role needs specifics to be successful, says Apratim Purakayastha, chief product and technology officer with Skillsoft, a maker of learning management system software and content. “When hiring for a particular role, you need to be focused on core skills and competencies,” he explains. Hiring managers do better when they list the competencies they actually need in successful candidates and share them in their ads so applicants aren’t guessing about whether they’d be a good fit.

12. Setting unrealistic expectations

It’s great to be clear about what you want, but hiring experts across the board say you also have to be realistic. Don’t go to market for an entry-level programmer and expect candidates to know all sorts of programming languages or have a range of certifications and several years of experience. And don’t expect a candidate to have everything just as you described. An experienced programmer might not know all the languages you want but an otherwise good candidate can learn them.

13. Relying on old salary data to plan compensation

The competitive market for tech talent keeps pressure on salaries, which can bump up more quickly than pay for other professions. Paul Wallenberg, senior director for technology recruiting at staffing agency LaSalle Network, says CIOs must be sure to have the most up-to-date data when figuring out compensation. “You have to rely on more dynamic data sources and pooling data that you’re collecting during applications,” he says. “I’m not talking about the amount the applicants are currently making, either. I’m talking about what they expect in a new role.”

14. Not publishing your compensation

Starting in January 2023, California will require employers to disclose their pay ranges with job postings. Others, including Colorado, Washington, and New York City, also have such laws in effect or coming online. But even CIOs hiring outside those jurisdictions should adopt the practice, Wallenberg says. He says his company has collected data that found companies who post such information — whether legally required or not — actually get more candidates and higher-quality ones at that.

15. Lacking diversity on the interview panel

IT leaders continue to focus on diversifying their teams, but too often their interview panels have no diversity and/or don’t even acknowledge the topic. That could lead candidates to think the company’s interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion is all talk, Wallenberg says.

16. Using off-putting language in job descriptions

Certain language can be off-putting to candidates, Robinson says. For example, a job posting looking for a “diverse candidate” (an awkward phrasing, to say the least) when the company is looking to build a diverse team could leave would-be applicants puzzled on what the CIO wants in the individual. Similarly, job descriptions that use “competitive” or “demanding” could turn off potential candidates. There’s proof of this: A 2019 LinkedIn report found that 44% of women and 33% of men would be discouraged from applying to a job if “aggressive” was used in the job description.

17. Putting candidates through onerous interview rounds

Hiring teams often ask candidates to demonstrate their knowledge by developing code or taking tests. Such requests, particularly if they’re time-consuming, can be onerous for candidates. “You could be excluding people who have jobs and don’t have extra time to put into these rounds of interviews or doing homework,” Robinson says.

18. Paying too little attention to the nontechnical stuff

It’s easy when hiring for tech positions to focus only or mostly on a candidate’s technical skills, but Purakayastha warns against overlooking other important skills, such as communication capabilities and the ability to work collaboratively. “I see very competent people being hired but they don’t have enough of the soft skills needed or the skills to adapt to a new culture,” Purakayastha says, adding that his company has a list of 45 values, such as professional integrity, that it seeks in candidates to help them think holistically about applicants.

19. Ignoring next steps for new hires

“Hiring is just the first step,” Purakayastha reminds. Next up: Retaining the new hire and helping them grow. “Change in the technology field is happening much faster than you can hire, so managing your employee’s technical career has significant ROIs that should not be overlooked.”

20. Poaching

It’s a common practice, particularly among tech firms in Silicon Valley and other high-tech corridors. But poaching talent from your competitors drives up salaries without addressing the pipeline issues that are causing such drastic competition. Plus, it doesn’t typically solve staffing challenges over the long term. As Markow points out: “If you’re just offering the highest salary, what’s to stop another company from offering more?”

21. Skipping over what you can offer

Candidates in this market have lots of choices, so CIOs should be selling prospects on what they and their companies offer. “If you don’t have a vested interest in their careers, they won’t have an interest in joining you,” Tan says.

22. Failing to sell what your company offers

“You need to pay competitive salaries for sure, but you also need to make sure you’re hiring for mission and not just money,” Markow says. Research shows that companies who give workers a reason beyond compensation to come and stay, whether that reason is engaging work, a flexible schedule, the actual mission of the organization, or advancement opportunities, do better recruiting and retaining talent.

23. Adding staff when you don’t know what you already have

Markow says he worked with one CIO who, believing his IT team lacked the skills needed to successfully compete, was planning on a significant round of hiring. He then actually assessed and inventoried the skills his staffers had and found that his team was actually market-leading. As a result, he needed to hire for only a fraction of what he had originally planned. “Too many CIOs don’t take time to understand their bench strength and they mistakenly hire for skills they don’t need,” Markow adds.

24. Being biased against the unemployed or underemployed

Hiring managers sometimes still perceive out-of-work individuals as less desirable or less competitive, discounting a range of possible reasons for their unemployed or underemployed status, Hartsock says. But she points out many workers, particularly today, left or scaled back on work for very valid reasons, such as staying safe during COVID. Hartsock says companies may find a boost in their hiring if they stopped chasing passive candidates and put more energy into engaging truly active applicants — including those who are under- or unemployed now seeking to re-enter the workforce. As she notes: “There’s no better worker than somebody needs a job.”

Hiring

These days, it’s difficult to find a company that isn’t looking for qualified professionals to fill vital IT roles. In fact, despite layoffs and hiring freezes reported among technology companies, IT job postings grew month-over-month in the first half of 2022, a boom Dice.com attributes to IT hiring having strengthened in nearly every other industry outside of tech, according to its Tech Jobs Report.

This means that career opportunities for IT pros is growing beyond the usual coastal cities that typically dominate IT hiring. The COVID-19 pandemic has also contributed to a boom in tech job postings in various cities across the country, as a number of IT professionals relocated to new cities or states, and employers became more open to hiring remote workers. This was especially true for Silicon Valley, which saw a mass exodus of tech workers throughout the pandemic. Companies have since started to branch out, opening offices in cities that have more space, a lower cost of living, and a diverse talent pool.

While hiring remains strong in traditional tech hubs, such as San Francisco and New York, tech job postings have increased the most this year in the following 12 cities, according to data from Dice, making them the fastest growing locations for IT jobs in the US today.

1. Orlando, Fla. 

Orlando experienced the most significant increase in tech job postings, with 111% year over year growth. Typically seen as a city for retirees and tourists, Orlando is making a name for itself as a growing tech metropolis. The city is home to several colleges and universities, making it a hot spot for recruiting talent, and it’s not too difficult to sell candidates on a move to Florida. The city also built the Central Florida Research Park, a campus-like environment for businesses located nearby the University of Central Florida. A Creative Village was also built in downtown Orlando to serve as an urban innovation center complete with mixed-income residential buildings, student housing, office and creative space, and more. Companies such as Apple, Oracle, Veritas, Lockheed Martin, AMD, MITRE, and Electronic Arts have offices in the Orlando area, and the average tech salary in Orlando is $88,598 per year, according to the Orlando Business Journal.

2. Miami, Fla. 

Dubbed “Silicon Beach,” Miami has experienced 104% year over year growth for tech job postings, according to Dice. Much of this growth is attributed to Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who has encouraged technologists and tech companies to make the move to Miami. Some of the top hiring organizations in Miami include Anthem Blue Cross, Accenture, Deloitte, Dell, ChenMed, and UKG. Companies in Mami are looking for software developers and engineers, project managers, network engineers and architects, IT project managers, and customer support specialists. Tech salaries have grown alongside job postings — the average tech salary rose 11.4% between 2020 and 2021, with an average annual salary of $92,000.

3. Detroit

Detroit was one of the cities that saw a lot of “boomerangs” during the pandemic, which is a term for people who have moved away only to eventually return and settle down. With the rise of remote work, many took the opportunity to move back to Detroit, strengthening the talent pool in the area. The city is also expected to add around 1,800 new tech jobs this year, according to CompTIA. Companies such as Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Amazon, and Pinterest have opened offices in Detroit in recent years. Detroit experienced a 90% year over year growth in tech job postings, with an average tech salary of $99,376 per year, according to Dice.

4. Irvine, Calif. 

Irvine has experienced 89% year-over-year growth in tech job postings, according to Dice. Amazon plans to add 800 office and tech jobs to Irvine this year and Apple has also signed a lease on a building in the city. Mayor Farrah Khan also launched an Innovation Council, which consists of industry leaders from government, education, and business sectors to bolster the region’s position in the tech industry. Companies that have opened offices in Irvine include Sega, Razer, Vizio, Viant Technology, Blizzard Entertainment, and The Linksys Group, among others.

5. Houston 

While Austin has long been viewed as Texas’ premier tech hub, Houston has also seen a boom in tech talent of late, boasting 83% year-over-year growth in tech job postings, with an average tech salary of $100,341 per year, according to Dice. The city converted an abandoned Sears department store into a 300,000 square-foot complex for innovation and as a spot for startup accelerators and incubators. The goal is to cultivate even more tech talent in the Houston area, bringing bigger tech giants to the area. Companies with offices in Houston include The Aerospace Corp., ServiceNow, Optum, Corva, Siemens, and AvidXchange, among others.

6. San Antonio 

San Antonio’s “Tech Port” is a 1,900-acre campus located at the former site of the Kelly Air Force Base, which has been redeveloped over the past 20 years to help the city advance the local technology industry. The Tech Port also features a music venue, and the proceeds from events go to the Kelly Heritage Foundation, which provides technology and STEM opportunities to students in the San Antonio area. Companies such as Hulu, Amazon, IBM, Oracle, Apple, ServiceNow, iheartMedia, and Cisco have opened offices in San Antonio. Job tech postings in San Antonio grew by 80% year over year, with the average tech worker earning $81,870 per year, according to Dice.

7. Portland, Ore. 

Portland is part of the “Silicon Forest,” a moniker that references high-tech companies that have settled into the Portland metropolitan area. The tech scene in Portland started back in the 1940s with companies such as Tektronix, Intel, InFocus, PixelWorks, Hewlett-Packard, Xerox, and Epson moving into the area. In the early 2000s, Portland suffered a hit during the dotcom bust, with a lull in tech job hiring. But that has turned around in recent years as the city experienced 76% year-over-year growth in tech job postings, with the average tech salary coming in at $107,185 per year, according to Dice.

8. Tampa, Fla. 

Dubbed the No. 1 emerging tech city in the US by Forbes, Tampa is home to more than 25% of all the technology jobs in Florida, with an anticipated 2,000 additional jobs to be added in the coming year. The city is in the process of building a mixed-used Innovation Center in Tampa’s Uptown neighborhood, with 19 square miles of housing, creative, office, and retail space to be built around the University of Southern Tampa. Companies such as Infosys, IBM, Wipro, Honeywell, Apple, Oracle, Microsoft, Google, Dell, and Salesforce have opened offices in Tampa within the past few years. Tampa experienced a 71% year-over-year growth in tech job postings over the past year and tech workers earn an average salary of $97,098 per year, according to Dice.

9. Phoenix

Phoenix is home to the “Silicon Desert,” and it’s quickly becoming a hot spot for the tech industry, with a focus on telecommunications, electronics manufacturing, and aerospace. Operational costs in Phoenix are 36% less than in California, according to the Phoenix Business Journal, making it an appealing spot for tech companies looking for a less expensive home base for headquarters. It’s also the fifth-largest data center market in the nation, with a “low natural disaster risk, inexpensive power, and a competitive colocation and cloud market.” Phoenix is home to companies such as ADP, Workiva, ServiceNow, Traffic Tech, BigTime Software, and General Motors. Job tech postings in Phoenix grew 69% year over year, with tech workers earning an average annual salary of $91,105, according to Dice.

10. Charlotte, N.C. 

Charlotte has been hailed as the tech hub of the south, with tech job postings growing 65% year over year, and an average annual salary of $100,691 for tech workers, according to Dice. There’s strong traction with tech jobs in the financial services industry, as banking turns more to digital transformation. Charlotte is home to companies such as Red Ventures, Credit Karma, EPAM Systems, Torc Robotics, Axios, Cisco, LendingTree, and AvidXchange. There’s high demand for software engineers, web developers, IT support specialists, network administrators and architects, data scientists, and cybersecurity professionals, according to CompTIA.

11. Boston 

Boston has grown to become a popular tech hub in recent years, with companies such as Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle opening offices in the city. Amazon recently opened a technology hub in the Seaport district, with space for over 2,000 employees and over 1,000 technology and corporate roles available. There’s also a hot market for startups in the city and access to graduates from MIT, Harvard, BU, Tufts, and Northeastern. VCs have relocated to the area to keep an eye on emerging startups given the city’s success rate with startups such as Hubspot, Care.com, TripAdvisor, and Wayfair. Job tech postings in Boston grew 64% year over year, with an average tech salary of $114,959 per year, according to Dice.

12. St. Louis

Missouri is part of what’s been named the “Silicon Prairie,” which includes several midwestern states that have experienced a boom of tech companies opening shop. Tech job postings in St. Louis grew by 64% year over year, according to data from Dice. And the average annual salary for tech employees in St. Louis is $124,487, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Midwestern states often have a lower cost of living and more space than the traditional tech hubs. This has drawn tech companies and technologists alike to the Midwest to put down roots in St. Louis. Companies that have moved to or opened an office in St. Louis include Spectrum, EPAM Systems, ServiceNow, Cash App, ServiceTitan, Boeing, and Square, among others.

Hiring, IT Jobs

These are challenging times to be a CIO. It was all talk about digital transformation to drive post-pandemic business recovery a few months ago. Now, the goalposts have shifted thanks to rising inflation, geopolitical uncertainty and the Great Resignation. Meeting these challenges requires IT leaders to ruthlessly prioritize: taking action to mitigate escalating cyber and compliance risks by managing their attack surface more effectively amidst continued skills shortages.

For many, the key lies in choosing the right platform to drive visibility and control across the endpoint estate.

The ever-growing attack surface 

That pandemic-era digital spending was certainly necessary to support hybrid working, drive process efficiencies and create new customer experiences. But it also left behind an unwelcomed legacy as corporate attack surfaces expanded significantly. 

An explosion in potentially unmanaged home working endpoints and distributed cloud assets have added opacity at a time when CIOs desperately need visibility. Two-fifths of global organizations admit that their digital attack surface is “spiraling out of control.” Some organizations also exacerbate their challenges in this regard by rushing products to market, incurring heavy technical debt in the process. 

Attack surface challenges are especially acute in industries like manufacturing, which became the most targeted sector in 2021. The convergence of IT and OT in smart factories is helping these organizations to become more efficient and productive, but it’s also exposing them to increased risk as legacy equipment is made to be connected. 

Nearly half (47%) of all attacks on the sector last year were caused by vulnerabilities that the victim had yet to or could not patch. Like their counterparts in almost every sector, manufacturing CIOs are also kept awake at night by supply chain risk. An October 2021 report claimed that 93% of global organizations have suffered a direct breach due to weaknesses in their supply chains over the previous year.

Managing this risk effectively will require rigorous and continuous third-party auditing based on asset visibility and best practice cyber hygiene checks. The same approach can also help drive visibility at a time when supply chains are still under tremendous strain from the continued impact of COVID-19 in Asia and new geopolitical uncertainty.

Threat actors are ruthlessly exploiting visibility and control gaps wherever they can find them, most notably via ransomware. The average ransom payment rose 78% year-on-year in 2021, with some vendors detecting a record-breaking volume of attacks. Most are down to a combination of phishing, exploited software vulnerabilities, and misconfigured endpoints, particularly RDP servers left exposed without strong authentication.

Missing talent

In fact, misconfiguration is one of the biggest sources of cyber risk today perpetuated by talent shortages and digital transformation, the latter creating new and complex IT environments which become more challenging to manage securely. The talent shortfall cuts across multiple sectors and is most acute in cyber with a gap of over 2.7 million professionals globally, including 402,000 in North America. The Great Resignation and workplace stress continue to take their toll. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of SOC analysts claim they’ll change jobs next year.

With talent in such short supplies and commanding such a high price, it becomes even more important to deploy it as efficiently as possible. Technology should be the CIO’s friend, yet a proliferation of IT and security point solutions is undermining productivity, not enhancing it. Our research shows that the average organization runs over 40 discrete IT security and management tools. They not only add licensing costs and significant administrative overheads but can also create visibility gaps that threat actors are primed to exploit. 

Tool bloat is even more likely in the public sector, where CIOs often lack a common security governance framework to guide purchasing strategies. Government IT leaders are also weighed down by the significant financial burden of license under utilization as they often lack the ability to discover, manage and measure their software assets.

The regulatory landscape continues to evolve

As if these challenges weren’t enough, CIOs must also prioritize compliance risk management. The EU’s GDPR set in motion a domino effect of copycat legislation around the world, which has raised the stakes for corporate data protection and privacy. But the landscape is also shifting in other ways. 

No longer is regulation solely for large organizations in healthcare, manufacturing or financial services sectors. New rules and policies are being drawn up and older ones are expanding in scope. Once the preserve of financial institutions, Sarbanes-Oxley will apply to all businesses that handle credit, beginning in December 2022. That means organizations as diverse as car dealerships, furniture sellers and retail stores will need to get SOX-compliant or face potentially significant financial consequences.

Start with visibility and control

As CIOs look to prioritize while economic headwinds gather strength, managing IT risk becomes even more critical. This is where best practice cyber hygiene can play an important role. It sounds simple in theory but can be challenging to achieve in practice.

Cyber hygiene is built on comprehensive visibility of the endpoint IT estate. That means understanding everything the organization is running and what is running on those endpoints at all times—whether it’s an on-prem server, a cloud container, a virtual machine or a home working laptop. 

It’s especially challenging, and critical, in dynamic and ephemeral cloud environments, which change second by second. Once this visibility has been achieved, organizations need technology that empowers them to run continuous scans and automated remediation activities to find and fix any vulnerabilities or misconfigurations—and to rapidly detect and investigate emerging threats.

This endpoint insight will not just help to mitigate risk but also optimize software license utilization and enhance regulatory compliance. Delivered from a single platform, it should help stretched IT teams do more with less and maximize their productivity. 

The hard work starts now.

Learn how to get complete endpoint visibility and control here.

IT Leadership