The speed of change in IT is dizzying. Exciting, but dizzying. Sometimes it feels that we move so fast, we can’t even get introduced to a new process or service before it changes. Other IT shops seem to be feeling the pressure as well. Here’s an example: an article titled Are 18-month org charts and constant training the new reality for IT? Dr. Carver makes the case that truly agile organizations can’t look out ten, five, or even three years – IT rolls over every eighteen months, so be prepared.
As a corollary, he also asserts that the cost of quality employees in this type of environment, the overhead associated with recruiting and training, is so high that the only sensible management approach is to grow your organization from within. In Student Affairs IT, we’ve done just that by mentoring student workers to the point of graduation and then making full-time positions for them. It’s a high-impact practice that allows them to start their careers with a solid organization that appreciates them and values their knowledge of our business. This program doesn’t guarantee that they’ll stay with us for 20 years, but you never know. Currently we have two senior managers (15 years and 30 years) that started out as student workers. That’s money in the bank.
I know what you’re thinking. I’ve heard all the arguments for recruiting from the outside. Fresh blood, new ideas, moving beyond group-think… I don’t mean to infer that we don’t recruit from the outside anymore. I do mean to assert that IT in Higher Education is a special beast, especially in Student Affairs. We have special customers with special needs that require special skills (mainly the soft skill area). Getting qualified candidate pools, especially with limits on starting salaries, is getting more difficult. Effective IT folks that can demonstrate those skills can be hard to come by.
One more thing. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of running job searches. With all that we have to do, it feels that job searches simply suck the life out of us. Anything we can do to reduce this onerous task is OK by me.