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Lessons Learned from TechServe Alliance IT Staffing Conference 2011

November 14, 2011 5 comments

November 2-4 I was in Phoenix for the annual TechServe Alliance (TSA) conference. TSA is a staffing association focused specifically on IT Staffing. The event was extremely well run, with attendees, speakers, and vendors all providing positive feedback to the executive planning committee.

A few notes from the conference:

IT Staffing is Up

  • Attendance was up 41% over last year and the general vibe was very positive.
  • Finding skilled talent is more of a challenge than finding job orders.
  • As of October, the IT Employment Index is up 0.17% from September 2011, and up 2.21% from October 2010.
  • IT Staffing has had ~23 consecutive months of growth as an industry

There is a Shortage of Qualified Talent

Carl Camden, CEO of Kelly Services, gave an authoritative keynote discussing major challenges facing the staffing industry as a whole in the coming decade. He challenged the audience of ~500 IT Staffing decision makers to think longer term than the next job order. To focus on becoming a strategic partner in workforce planning.

In his opinion, the next 10 years will determine if staffing becomes a commodity or an integral part of “Talent Supply Chain Management.” He posed the following question: when a client calls you up to staff a new manufacturing plant in Indonesia, were you part of the planning committee to determine Indonesia as a location due to available talent, or is your role that of reacting to the new order?

A few stats he shared:

  • There are 9 million unemployed people in the US.
  • There are 2.5 million jobs that cannot be filled due to an unqualified workforce. (cannot be filled = open for more than 60 days).
  • There are 600,000 un-fillable manufacturing jobs due to unskilled talent.
  • The number of STEM graduates (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) has reduced dramatically over the past 10 years.
  • By 2020 we will need 1 million more STEM college grads and our current pace will not fulfill that need.

Like it or not, Social Media is a necessary expense in your business

Jennifer Abernathy (@SalesLounge) gave a great talk about the current and future opportunities in social media. There is a LOT going on out there and for better or worse, companies will need to participate in order to engage the new workforce and standard consumer behaviors of today.

In my opinion, the addition of social media to the operations of an organization, is similar to the evolution of advertising and sales, into marketing and sales a few years back. Marketing became an independent entity responsible (and accountable) for advertising AND lead generation. Now, social media, is becoming an independent entity within marketing as the “incubator of relationships.” To make things even more complicated, social media is trying to find a role in sales as well.

Nonetheless, Jennifer provided lots of takeaway gems:

  • Make sure you get a Twitter handle (@companyname) for your company. Whether or not you use it today, you should own it.
  • Same with a .tv URL.
  • Video will be a requirement in 2012.
  • Begin planning mobile marketing initiatives (and collecting mobile numbers).
  • One major upcoming trend is mobile commerce, or mCommerce.
  • Make sure your LinkedIn professional headline is descriptive (not just title).
  • Add your web address and phone number to your LinkedIn summary – in addition to other keyword terms relevant to your business. Your LinkedIn summary is searchable by Google.

Last but definitely not least!

There were many more incredible talks. Barb Bruno (www.goodasgoldtraining.com) gave a home run presentation about how to be a successful recruiter. How many of you end your day by writing down the top 6 things “closest to the money” that you will do tomorrow?

Alan Beaulieu (www.itreconomics.com) gave the most entertaining economic forecast I have ever heard (he also owns the second place spot in my book from the Executive Forum conference a couple years back). On top of being an interesting speaker, Alan has a 96% accuracy rate predicting business cycles.

Until the next conference!