The Talent War and IT Growth

The Talent War and IT growth

So…we have near-sourcing, or in-sourcing as others like to call it, putting more IT jobs back in the U.S. market. We have thousands of baby boomers retiring, or getting ready to, and in general, our nation is seeing continual growth in the IT sector and raising rates for contractors.

Our metro area is certainly no exception. I mentioned last time that for certain, top-level IT positions, the unemployment rate is less than 2.5 percent. Here are a few more stats to chew on: the unemployment rate for database administrators is about 2.4. For computer network architects, that unemployment rate is a mere 0.2 percent!

System analysts, software and Web developers, and those providing back-end support, are also way better off than candidates in so many other industries.

The 2011 Forbes study that ranked Minneapolis as a top metro area to find employment in was definitely on track as far as IT is concerned. The technology sector continues to grow, as almost every company has to rely on information technology to some extent. We have so many diverse industries here with IT needs.

But it isn’t just our area experiencing this continual growth. Take San Francisco and New York as examples, where 2.56 and 2.64 percent more tech jobs were created in January of this year.

For some top-level IT positions, knowledge has become power. There are more and more IT openings, yes, but less people floating around to fill them. If they are floating, they’re immediately nabbed. The talent war rages!

IT consulting fees also on the rise

That’s the name of the game, definitely, in the IT consulting sector. Rates are on the rise because consultants are in such high demand.  In an industry like Information Technology, which already has higher costs associated with it, people will have to continue to pay out for those services.

Where does this put candidates? In exactly the right spot! From a recent study in our area, of the executives surveyed, almost 60 percent of them admitted to IT recruiting challenges. That’s a big jump from the previous quarter, when only 17 percent of interviewed executives said they were facing this difficulty.

So like other recruiters out there, we’re facing our challenges—feeling the squeeze from both ends, from the hiring managers who are told they have a budget to stick to, and from the IT consultants, who think their skills command such and such amount.

But for IT candidates, this is your time. Make sure you’re out there, that your talent shows on your resume, and that you’re continually reading about your industry and staying up to date.

If you’re in a full-time position right now, there may be a big opportunity for you to transition into a contracting role and make more money.  We’d love to help you though the transition and see if it makes sense for you.  Call us today to get the conversation started!

The Talent War – It’s Getting Intense

The Talent War—It’s intensifying

When you’re talking workforce, there’s a statistic out there that’s quite eye catching: since January 1, 2011 about 10,000 baby boomers reach age 65—typical retirement age—every day. And that’s supposed to go on for another 18 years!

And while plenty of people stay on past age 65, there are lots of people retiring. That combined with the recent explosion of growth in IT means there are more open positions than ever. (More on that next time.)

There are many other things in the mix that make the IT field extremely exciting to be in too. Take our metro area: with unemployment for certain IT specialist positions at less than 2.5 percent—pretty darn low—it’s a tight market, one that candidates can take full advantage of. It is candidate-oriented, candidate-driven and companies are scrambling to snatch up talent whenever they see it.

Outsourcing less and less; near-sourcing more and more

And then there’s this, the focus of this article: Rising prices of outsourcing in India.

The “war for talent” is only going to get tougher. McKinsey and Company, who came up with that term in 1997, were right on target when they coined it. The search for the top individuals in IT keeps heating up. And it was hot already!

For awhile, it was pretty straightforward regarding outsourcing work to India. It cut costs for U.S. employers and allowed them to “focus” on the core responsibilities of their company. However, it’s not as cut and dry as that now.

Prices of outsourcing are rising—not just the monetary amounts, but the unforeseen costs of having to totally change how a company is managed when it’s outside of U.S. borders.

And costs in India—IT’s top location for outsourcing jobs—are increasing too. Because of how quickly outsourcing has grown there, there’s some wage inflation as a result, especially for more top level positions. In 2010, wages in India’s outsourcing sector rose 10 percent. In 2011, that number was about 12.9 percent, and this year, it looks like wages will increase again by about 12 percent. Those are some big jumps!

So what this all comes down to, is that many employers are finding that they can do work just as cheaply at home, or almost, anyway. Plus, with the added ease of managing employees within the U.S., real costs can sometimes be lower. In fact, some Indian companies are now outsourcing work here too.

We’re also seeing a shift in US companies: some are starting to use in-sourcing or near-sourcing as their mode of operation in order to keep their top talent close at hand.

That means more IT jobs on the market. Candidates, especially those with more knowledge and experience, will have their prime pick of positions to choose from and it really puts the squeeze on employers. They either find ways to take their recruiting strategies to the next level, or they lose talent to their competitors. And that’s a battle no one wants to lose.

The bottom line is this: IT candidates are in an even better place than before. In the war for talent, the war is all about you. You’re not going to have to struggle as hard to find work. Keep your skills fresh, your resume up-to-date, and employers will be doing more and more of the fighting for you!

As always, let us know when you want to make a move and we’ll be happy to help!

What Makes Us Tick? – Why We Recruit

There are a lot of reasons we all do the work we do. This time, I thought I’d share some of the reasons my colleagues and I not only remain in the recruiting industry, but why we enjoy it.

  1. People. The variety of people we meet with, talk with, email back and forth with, that is obviously a huge element of this position. It’d be hard to be a recruiter if you didn’t enjoy people, because people make our job! Whether we’re presenting someone a job that is better than the one they’re at, or just getting to know a new candidate and finding out more about them, the people in our business make it worthwhile. Having those few candidates that keep in touch, and knowing that we helped cultivate those relationships—those are great moments. As another colleague recently told me, “usually my favorite stories never involve ‘the biggest fees I ever earned’, they are usually ones where I really came through for either the candidate or the client, and just made their year with the perfect fit.”
  1. Challenges. Someone in our company put it just right: “recruiting keeps me on my toes; it challenges me to think independently and differently from my peers, because ultimately, it’s a competition.” And the challenges definitely abound. From meeting the expectations of a candidate, to meeting the needs of a client, keeping everyone happy, securing the right positions for the right people time after time—there is no end to the need for motivation in this job. Like another co-worker put it, “it’s the thrill of the hunt” that keeps us going. Recruiting is not for wimps or people who are afraid to step out on a limb. Every day is different.
  1. Flexibility. When you think about it, there really aren’t a ton of jobs that offer the flexibility that recruiting does. To an extent, being able to set your own hours as long as you’re getting your work done feels so liberating. And obviously, the awesome part is that it really comes down to a matter of self-motivation. If you want to earn the BIG deals, you have to do the big stuff. Those who slack off, lose out. So there’s flexibility, but recruiters really have more of a choice in how hard/how much they want to work. That’s pretty cool.
  1. Closing the deals. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have an amazing feeling of accomplishment (and relief) with each deal that I close. Knowing that you’ve succeeded in finding a candidate who meets or exceeds the client’s expectations, realizing the part you’ve played in helping someone find a job that they could not have found otherwise…what a good feeling. This is simply an awesome part of recruiting.
  1. Money. Isn’t that a surprise!? While it is sometimes overwhelming to dive into recruiting, or even stay in recruiting, after a few up and down years of getting into the swing of it, the money it can provide is definitely a bonus. If you hone your skills, proactively pursue your clients and candidates by getting to know them and what makes them tick, recruiting can provide real financial freedom. The numbers definitely work for me. And as another colleague of mine says, “it’s hard not to love the earning potential.”

These are some of the things that keep us in the biz. I’m sure that you, too, have your fair share of reasons to do what you do. If you’re feeling in a slump or a little unsure of what you’re doing, I hope you can connect with others in your industry soon. Chances are you just need a bit of a creative boost.

It’s All About the Relationships – Our Key to Success

You’ve probably heard or seen our tag-line “relationship-based recruiting” before. But what exactly is it and why does it matter? And more importantly, why should it matter to you?

First and foremost, recruiting companies vary in the degree that they interact and get to know their clients. At True Source, relationships with our candidates and clients matter most. And that is how we build success: by fostering relationships with people on all sides. If we don’t work at these professional friendships, or if we do so half-heartedly, we’re not going to get very far with what we do.

At its simplest, relationship-based recruiting means we want to know you. And this is how all recruiting firms used to operate. Somewhere along the way, especially in some of the larger, national recruiting firms, that core value of relationship-building has been compromised. For instance, a lot of companies will simply rely on phone screens to “know” a candidate. They are pretty much looking at one thing: whether a candidate’s skills match a job opening. That’s it.

At our company, we want to get to know our candidates—strengths, job aspirations, accomplishments, goals, family situation, etc. —as well as we can, so we can ultimately find the ideal job for each individual that meets or exceeds their expectations! How do we do this? We take the time and go beyond a basic phone screen. We meet every single candidate of ours in person. We ask a lot of questions. We listen well. We follow up.

But we do more. Relationship-based recruiting, after all, is a lot more than talking to people and responding to emails (although that takes up a good portion of time!). We use the “we find you” approach to hiring—as opposed to the “you find us” method. We are proactively searching out referrals from former employees, top employees, friends and family, to find the best talent.

Once we find someone, do we immediately spill the beans? Nope. Because we care about relationships with our candidates, we will only present someone’s candidacy to our clients after we are given permission. This is another thing that sets True Source apart.

The other side of the equation, of course, is our relationship with our clients. Again, our commitment to excellent and ongoing communication is integral to this process. We have direct relationships with our client managers; we know them. When a job opens up, we talk to the manager to determine what the project is, what type of person he/she is looking for, and what the job culture is like there.

Knowing this helps us make the right match. Instead of simply plugging resumes into a web portal, like some recruiting firms do, we want to make sure that the character and goals of the candidate will fit client expectations. Instead of being driven by numbers, we are driven by people.

We are deeply committed to the people we work with and we care about the details. Without these standards, our business would be, at best, mediocre.

Know What You Know – Keeping Your IT Skills Fresh

More than ever, we realize how quickly things change: the economy, the job market, and the skills we use.  In the IT industry, speed of change seems even faster, sometimes overwhelming us with what we need to know and keep on learning. Indeed, it’s crucial to know (as it is in any field) how to stay on top of the skills in our industry without making our job our life.

Skills Inventory & Perusing the Want Ads

The first thing to realize as someone within the IT culture is that you likely have a lot of competence.  But in this still recovering market, it’s easy to feel like what you know isn’t all that important. That’s where a skills inventory can help. Jot down what you know and what you’re good at, and then make another list of what you can improve upon or learn.  More specifically, what would make you more valuable to an employer in a current or future position?

After you’ve written down a list of skills and another list of the things you want to better, check that latter portion against some want ads—which by the way—it would be good to browse through every month or two. It’s vital to see what employers in the IT field are looking for in their employees. And if you stay on top of it, you won’t be overwhelmed when two, three, even five years down the road you want to switch jobs.

Continuing Education & Trade Journals

Once you’ve started looking at want ads and have a pretty good feel for some of the skill requirements, attend  continuing ed classes at a college or university, attend webinars, seminars, conferences, and teleconferences on things that aren’t solely relevant to IT, but topics that encompass ideas about business management, business solutions, communications, etc.

The reason for this, as you likely know if you’ve been reading industry blogs and trend predictions about IT in 2011, is that many employers are looking not just for IT techies, but for people who, on top of their technical expertise, can knowledgeably handle other aspects of a business, people who are broad in their competence and can take on other critical roles. An example of this is a project manager, someone who knows their technology, but can also deliver applicable business solutions.

But even just browsing industry blogs and trade journals related to the IT industry is a big step.  Let’s face it, the software engineer who subscribes to and reads from such literature has quite a lead on the one who goes home and doesn’t do any sort of homework. It’s just common sense for any professional: read up on what’s going on in your trade. Know it and keep up on it.

The Basics

The main thing is that you radiate a sense of interest, even passion, about your job and industry. If you’re seeking out learning opportunities, taking a course from time to time, and occasionally reading up on your field, it will be apparent to your employer and your co-workers. If you can be the sort of person who shows a desire to learn and actually acts upon that interest by taking the time to become more knowledgeable, you are already ahead of the game.

Handling the Counter Offer – Think First

So… you’ve finally gotten the nerve up. You turn in your two-week resignation letter and exhale a quiet sigh of relief. But wait, the excruciating part has just begun. The next morning, your boss calls you in and proceeds to offer you a very charming counter offer—one that will give you more money, more flexibility and more benefits, maybe even a promotion.

What to do? At first, many people might be tempted to accept such an offer because it makes the things they didn’t like about their job seem less relevant. And it’s very nice to all of a sudden be wanted: it’s in our nature. It’s so in our nature that we might, momentarily, forget the reasons why we probably shouldn’t accept a counter offer.

First things first. If your boss thinks so highly of you, why didn’t he or she make that clear earlier? Why now? Is it the old “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s [almost] gone” feeling? In some instances, yes, it may be genuine regret that makes an employer re-think what they are offering an employee.

Most of the time, however, your boss probably doesn’t like your timing. He or she would like to be the one making the decision for you to leave—having you do it is a bad reflection on him or her—and it also means some anxiety about filling your shoes.

If you are given a counter offer, it’s very important to tally up all the reasons you began the time consuming process of finding a new job in the first place. It’s also imperative to stay logical and not let all the flattery find its way to your brain.

Have the reasons you decided to accept a new position suddenly evaporated? No… Have the things that irked you about the job you’re trying to quit suddenly vanished? Probably not…  Think very carefully about this counter offer thing, and then, resist the urge to cave in to the sweet talk. Just say NO to the counter-offer. Here are a few more reasons why.

You’ve already committed to showing up for work for Employer B in two weeks, you’ve already turned in your resignation letter to Employer A, and then you change your mind, stay with Employer A? Not a nice scenario, as your reputation will definitely be tarnished to some extent (and it’s hard to say how badly).

The employer who offers you the counter offer, which you have accepted, will never forget that you were about to walk out the door, and the employer who you were committed to working for will be left high and dry, something they won’t forget either. People keep track of these things: if it’s on file and you’re seeking new work down the road, employers will likely look at who has or has not accepted a counter offer and seek out the ones who haven’t. Because in accepting that counter offer, you left people wondering about your loyalty.

Some of you may still want to accept a counter offer. Maybe there are only one or two small things that irk you about your current job. Maybe the counter offer provides a detailed and clear way to fix those issues. Maybe you sense that your employer is genuinely sad to see you go and lacked the foresight to talk about these issues before you made it necessary. Whatever the case, there are people who decide to take the counter offer. After all, it is a personal decision, and situations vary drastically.

That said, the statistics are not in favor of accepting a counter offer. In fact, they’re downright dreary. In most cases, people who accept a counter offer are gone from that job within the year anyway, and have burned some bridges in the process. Think twice, thrice and maybe more about what a counter offer is really offering. In the end, it is almost certainly not worth it.

IT Talent Black Hole – Where are the people?

The first of the baby boomers turned 65 years old this past January, and time will tell how dramatically this will affect our nation’s workforce. The baby boomer generation makes up approximately 26 percent of the U.S. population, and it’s estimated that for 19 years (beginning Jan. 1, 2011), 10,000 boomers will reach age 65 every day.

So…what does this mean for us in the information technology workforce?

True, a lot of people are opting to stay a bit longer at their jobs, to get more money back into that retirement fund, pay down more on their mortgage, or perhaps just set more money aside, but people are still retiring. In the IT world, a field that is already re-exploding (think back to the dot com rush of the 80s) this means there are more openings than ever.

In certain lines of work, younger people may feel that they have less upward mobility because of the larger percentage of older workers staying on, but in the IT field, this is not the case. The future for computer science and related careers is looking shiny and bright.

For one, almost every company out there now relies on IT—for supplier connections, customer support, and internal networking, to name a few. When the economy started down its dark path, a lot of companies cut back. Now that things are on the upswing, these same companies have to get back on track and make updates in order to stay competitive.

Take network security, for instance. Everyone needs it, and many places need to improve theirs. Even without the Baby Boomer factor, this ratchets up the need for specialized tech workers.

And while there are certainly many baby boomers out there with a technological edge who aren’t leaving their careers anytime soon, there’s a general trend of some boomers making the switch from high stress, full time jobs, to more part-time and/or not for profit agencies, places that seem to be making a difference.

As a result of all these shifts, we now see some of the older, more antiquated companies like IBM and Microsoft upping the ante in the recruiting game, competing with younger, seemingly more attractive places like Apple, Twitter, and Facebook. We all know how that goes. It’s the name of the game for the companies involved, and for those seeking tech work, it’s nothing but very good news.

Right now, we know that there are at least two, maybe three jobs for every graduate in computer science this year. There’s definitely work if you’re looking for it, and it’s happening now.

In its top ten jobs for 2011, CareerCast places software engineer at the number one position and computer systems analyst at number five.

There are also the super encouraging Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates—these indicate a 53 percent increase in network systems and data communication analyst jobs from 2006 to 2016 and also show great promise for database administrators, software engineer, and computer systems analyst positions.

The reality is this: there are more jobs out there than there are IT people to fill them.  Those of you in the field should understand what sort of advantage this gives: better job choices all around, an increased ability to get the job you want, and an increased ability to get the wages you desire.

The Interview – What now?

Finally, all that time and hard work have paid off getting your resume in front of the right people. You have an interview; the time and date are set. Chances are, no matter how many interviews you’ve gone to, you are feeling a bit apprehensive. You’ll be under the microscope answering all those questions.

Even if you read sample after sample of interview questions and answers, there’s only so much guesswork you can do. But there’s still a way to prepare. By taking time to research the company thoroughly, and by taking time to jot down your abilities and traits you will have gone a long way in helping yourself get through the interview confidently and knowledgeably.

When you research a company, look at what its mission is, who its founders are, who some of the leaders of the company are and what they have done/are doing, and what the company offers in products and/or services. Make sure you know these things well enough so you can pull them out of your brain when and if you need to.

Next, it’s time to assess the skills and education you have. There are the obvious things, like where you attended college and some of the events/places that have helped shape you as an employee.

But also spend some time on the qualities that come naturally to you and the ones that make you unique. Are you comfortable in large groups of people? Do you like taking charge? Are you a good communicator? Are you punctual? Do you have a good sense of humor? Can you go with the flow?

Really understanding yourself and what makes you tick in the workplace is going to be invaluable.

After this initial work, it’s time to give the job description a more thorough go through. How do you fit in with this particular company? How do your skills match up with what they need?  How can you help them, and more importantly, why should they “buy” you?

Because what’s really going on at the interview is that the employer is shopping around. It pays to package yourself carefully—not just look the part and arrive promptly—but to know how and what to reveal during the interview.

For instance, you want to be able to be honest and to be yourself, but there’s a way to be intelligent about it. There’s no need to tell a potential future employer that you were bored at your former job and thus quit. Instead, you might say that you learned a lot from your previous workplace, but when this posting came up, you applied because the job offers more challenges and will allow you to grow.

Other things to be mindful about are your strengths and weaknesses. You likely already have a big list of things that you can bring to the job, but spend some time thinking about areas you need to improve in.

For instance, maybe you are a laid back person and sometimes lack an eye for details. Be prepared to be able to talk about this if asked, but the key thing is to spend more time talking about how you are working on it. You might say that lately, for all projects, you have been making very specific outlines of what needs to be evaluated and accomplished, which help you focus on the details you might otherwise miss.

Everything in a job interview is about why the employer should hire you. Naturally, those in charge of hiring are equally concerned about filling and getting a quality person who is going to show up, get the job done, get along with their co-workers, and then some. Remember, you got the interview—that proves a lot. Now it’s time to clinch the deal.

True Source Picnic! – Thanks to our consultants!

Despite being a bit overcast, the rain held out for our picnic with our consultants. It was a great time at Minnehaha Park in South Minneapolis with good food from Fat Larenzo’s. I want to thank everyone who attended!

Feeling bad that you weren’t invited? Join the True Source team and you’ll be sure to be on the A list for next time!

Take a look at our current openings!

Turning the Tables on Recruiters

You’ve likely been through your fair share of resume scrutiny, job interviews, and questions. It’s all part of the deal, right? So, too, however, is your need to make sure you end up with a competent recruiter, one who gets what you need, takes action, and lands you the right job.  It’s time for us to turn the tables a bit. Let’s talk about what you should look for in a recruiter.

Finding a Recruiter

If you’re not already working with a recruiter, or you’re working with one you don’t like, it’s overwhelming to even think about starting the search. The best way, fortunately, still seems to be word of mouth. At the very least, getting suggestions from co-workers, friends, and family will give you a starting point.

While there are those who don’t specialize in one industry, the good recruiters often do. Find a recruiter that knows the ins and outs of the IT sector, has personal connections with managers, and knows a lot of companies that are hiring. This all helps you find the right position.

Qualifying your Recruiter

Once you’ve located and contacted a recruiter who seems to fit your needs, make an appointment to meet.

Why face to face? It’s key in getting to know someone. For one thing, meeting a recruiter will allow you to do a gut check. If you don’t feel comfortable with someone, all the qualifications and skills in the world can’t make up for it!

Similarly, seeing someone in person enables recruiters to get a full sense of who you are and how you will fit into a particular company’s culture. This is also a chance to get more in depth with your resume, to really go over it in detail, among other things. If a recruiter isn’t really excited about meeting in person, brushes it off, or says he/she doesn’t really have the time; it’s not a good sign. Good recruiters are going to want to meet you. They want to understand where you’re coming from.

Once you do meet, expect a lot of questions, because that’s what good recruiters do. Think of them as a sort of detective. They need to know and understand your job history, expectations, salary history, where you see yourself five years, ten years down the road, etc. . . .Their job is to investigate you and really get a good idea of who you are, so that if a position does open up, they will know whether it’s a good fit or not. You definitely want this.

If your recruiter isn’t really trying to make a connection, isn’t really digging to find out who you are, find someone who is more willing to invest his or her time. Recruiters that take the 20 to 30 minutes to meet with you are the ones who are going to send you the openings that fit with your job history and personality. The ones who aren’t adequately doing their job are going to be sending you pretty much every opening they come across, hoping you might eventually find something you like. You definitely don’t want this!


Bottom line: good recruiters are going to get you exposure and get you right to the hiring manager of a company. Good recruiters are going to work for you, helping you to negotiate salary and benefits. They want you to like your job; they want job retention; they have your best interests in mind. Look for this and demand the best. After all, this is your job and your happiness on the line.