In a previous post, “Is Your Resume Ready to Face the Tech Talent War?“, I talked about the ongoing war for tech talent and discussed the finger-pointing and blame game that has been going around. I also looked at how tech candidates can position their IT resumes to take advantage of this “war.”
As a follow-up to that post, I’d like to delve a little more into some of the ways that this issue of lack of talent could be addressed better within the U.S.
1. We need to stop confusing knowing how to use a computer with “knowing computers.”
There seems to be this misconception that today’s youth “know computers” when in actuality they most often just know how to use them (meaning they know how to use software) well. As a result, we tend to think we are raising tech-savvy kids. But the kids we are raising are generally not prepared to understand how the back-end of an organization is run, much less even how to troubleshoot basic hardware problems.
High school isn’t getting them close, and college isn’t either. In my post, “Why Our Programming Skills Need an Upgrade,” I cite an article, “Sorry, College Grads, I Probably Won’t Hire You,” by Kirk McDonald, president of PubMatic, an ad tech company in Manhattan. In that article, he cites lack of knowledge of basic programming code and inability to understand the processes in place to run the organization smoothly as big factors in why our college computer science programs are falling short.
So it is clear: Using the tool and knowing how the tool is engineered and works in relation to the whole system are not the same things.
2. Talent is more than a vocabulary lesson.
As a career services professional and resume writer who specializes in working with tech clients, I can honestly say that perhaps no other area is as much enveloped in its own vocabulary as in the tech fields, from IT to engineering to medical to manufacturing.
But much like my earlier point, knowing the terms and using them are not the same thing. And I find that much like religion, a lot of people talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. As I mentioned in my post, “In 2014 Tech Job Market, Ignorance Is Not Bliss,” companies are looking more for strategic business partners than for IT firefighters. And even those that collaborate with IT can no longer claim ignorance. It’s time to move away from tossing around the vocabulary to developing real talent that can understand how technology affects business.
3. We could be suffering from a case of mistaken identity.
At a time when good jobs have been few, the tech skyline has seemed awfully bright. As a result, a lot of people are drawn to it. Unfortunately, the talent it is drawing is not prepared for what industry is demanding. As I’ve already covered, understanding of programming code and IT strategic business partnership are two big needs. The other is quite simple: Will the real techie please stand up?
Even companies are confused and not sure what “real techies” are looking for. As a result, they keep trying to woo candidates with cool, hip culture and a college-like atmosphere. As a result, top talent isn’t leaving, and the concept of “genius” is being rebranded…none of which really solves the problem.
Look. It’s hard to solve a problem when you’re stuck in blame mode. But it is clear that to move forward, we need a more accurate assessment: The word “techie” has been hijacked by a culture that thinks that maneuvering through apps is the same thing as being able to run a network, and true talent has been painted into a picture that seems to exist only in Harvard dorm rooms.