What's missing from current conversations about talent attraction and retention?

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Vice President for Information Technology in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I think part of the problem is us as IT leaders. We need to figure out how to better explain the value of the position. And then I think specifically, why our business? If you have that tool set, why do you want to work here?

We're a community college, so I sell: "We change people's lives." I came from Vassar College—one of the wealthiest schools in the United States—to one of the poorest schools. I took a pay cut, but I have a more meaningful job. And one of the first people I met at commencement was a woman who was a convicted felon and wanted to turn her life around. If it wasn't for our college, she wouldn't have been able to do that. I never heard that story when I was at Vassar. And if Vassar didn't exist, they'd go somewhere else. Our community college makes a difference, and we try to sell that when people want to work for us. It's not just a job. It is this particular job that you're doing.

We need to not always decry the lack of money, etc., and focus on ourselves—how do we make ourselves really attractive as employers? Why should this be a career people want?
2 1 Reply
CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

I think your point is fair, and if you look at that difference, I don't know that you're selling somebody on Vassar the same way you're selling someone at Tallahassee Community College for that same reason. I think you have to look at the value proposition as to what makes you happy and successful in your current environment. So you have to take a step back and say, "What is the value proposition that you are selling?" With that, I think there will be talent to fill any job.

CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
Relationships have been hard on people during the pandemic. It's funny because we always seem to go back to the idea that IT people are introverted, and that Zoom and being able to work from home was probably the best thing for them. But maybe it wasn't. There is this underlying human need for interaction. I can tell you from a couple of forums I've been in lately, people just want to talk to and be with each other. They don't even need the script.

We've undervalued the need for interpersonal relationships on any level as an important thing that keeps people around. You have to be able to articulate what your culture is, and what your vision is. Demonstrate what's in for them, at least for the things that we can control. For the people who I still have around, that’s what I'm trying to focus on to make sure they stay.
Advisor | Investor | Former CIO in Services (non-Government), Self-employed
Sometimes, we frame this issue in the wrong context when we say, "retention." I think the issue is retention/shortfall. If you didn’t have such a shortfall of talent, you wouldn’t have such a major retention issue.

In the Wall Street Journal recently, the headline story said there's a shortage of 775K IT talent out there. When I talk to CTOs, etc., the issue is shortfall. You know you need to fill these vacancies and where to source from has  proven to be incredibly challenging. For example, there's a PE firm in Europe, and one of the partners reached out to me and said, "I need to get a cloud-capable CTO, and the exec search firms are sending me traditional IT CIOs. They don't even understand what it is that I'm looking for." So I think we have a problem in the recruiting mechanism itself.
3 1 Reply
Senior Executive Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees

I think what's happening because of this pandemic is twofold. In Geoffrey Moore's book, Crossing the Chasm, he discusses the innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. The innovators and early adopters are the ones who are always in touch with the technology. They know their part in the market, and they're going to move whether they like it or not. If you don’t keep them happy, then they're the first ones to leave. What you’re left with is the early majority, or in a lot of cases, the late majority and the laggards. That’s contributing a lot to the skills gap. It's a unique situation for us.


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