ChannelTrends: Career Development Opportunities Motivate Employees and Their Employers

It has never been easy to find and retain quality employees. Regardless of how much people complain about today’s challenges with recruitment and retention, world history is filled with HR stories that would make finding an IT tech seem like a walk in the park. In the Stone Age, for example, the Greek economy relied heavily on fishing and trading, so those with sailing skills and great physical strength were highly desired employees. Those with the most exceptional talents often became mercenaries, receiving lucrative salaries to travel the world and fight on behalf of other countries. Kings and pharaohs rewarded them handsomely for their success, with gold, diamonds, and in some cases, offering them the hands of their daughters (for marriage).

The IT job market of 2013 isn’t much different (with the exception of betrothing). Those with the best qualifications typically command the greatest reward, which forces both current and prospective employers to work harder to gain and retain their top talent.

Instead of receiving gold and other precious commodities for their service, handsome salaries and great fringe benefits have become key enticements in today’s employment marketplace. Of course, savvy employers now use other, often overlooked intangibles to sway the most highly sought-after prospects.  Companies have to work harder and smarter to attract key talent, and focus more of their attention (and resources) on keeping their best employees satisfied over the long-term.   

For example, Google uses its open culture (often associated with startups) to not only attract top talent, but make it more difficult for entrenched employees to leave. Other companies may offer a higher salary or give them a better parking space, but few will provide the same work experience. While a comfortable income will help satisfy your employees’ basic life needs (i.e. food, shelter, healthcare), the promise of a great work environment that can inspire their creativity and career development could tip the scales.

Solution providers need to look beyond the money when it comes to hiring. The most successful businesses customize their recruitment and employment programs to meet the interests and demands of the local talent pool. If possible, the telecommuting option is an attractive proposition for those who face major traffic issues. Allowances for local gym memberships can be a cost-effective benefit; showing that their employer cares about their health and encourages them to stay fit (which can improve their productivity and job satisfaction).        

One of the most often overlooked functions of an effective employment program is career development. It’s extremely rare for an employee to want to remain in the same role for his or her lifetime, so helping them prepare for other positions in the company can be a great investment of time and resources.         

Pave Your Own Path to Advancement
The best way to improve your options for career growth, whether just starting out in the field or a tenured executive, is to develop your own course of action. While several organizations have attempted to build professional development programs for those in IT over the years, their high cost and complexity have limited their impact on the industry—and narrowed the options for those interested in improving their skills and opportunities. 

Combined with the misperception that opportunities for women in the IT field are extremely limited, the CompTIA Advancing Women in IT (AWIT) Community realized the need for an easy-to-understand career development platform. At March’s face-to-face meeting, the group decided to address this deficiency by developing and launching an online IT careers platform by the end of this year. When completed, this site will complement the AWIT Community’s current educational programs, each designed to empower women with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue successful IT careers.

While still in the development phase, the initiative proposal includes a portal containing an IT career path, best practice and vocational links, and tips and recommendations from successful industry professionals. While AWIT came together to create tools and programs to help reverse the decline of women (younger and older) involved in the computer sciences and IT field, most, if not all of the resources they’re creating can be used just as effectively by men. As a matter of fact, a number of community members are gentlemen interested in contributing to the discussion and offering their expertise to the formation of new career development programs.

Would you like to help the AWIT community with this initiative or any of their other projects? Contact staff leader Cathy Alper at CAlper@comptia.org.

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