Balancing act

By Lynn Haber  |  Print this article Print


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With IT skills in demand, finding talent for your customers can be a smart business strategy.


Balancing Act

As advantageous as it may be to have a staffing service in addition to IT consulting and infrastructure services, in today's tight IT labor market just about everyone is struggling to fill positions.

"Our staffing business grew 25 percent last year, but there's a lot of permanent placement business we weren't able to do because of the shortage of qualified candidates," said Dru Neikirk, managing partner of technology consulting and staffing at MRE Consulting.

MRE specializes in the energy sector and is no newcomer to the staffing business. A $30 million IT consultancy started in 1994, the company positions itself as a resource for all its clients' IT needs. "We service the client relationship through its life cycle," Neikirk said.

Demand for full-time placements has spiked during the past 12 months, according to Neikirk. MRE has found that businesses with maturing IT shops want experienced professionals on staff. At the same time, the recruiter said more job candidates are choosing full-time permanent positions over consulting gigs.

"Five years ago, we had hundreds of résumés in our database, but now it's down to a crawl," Neikirk said.

ITG's Beckett reported that the average job candidate is in the market for about a week, is presented with 70 opportunities and receives seven job offers.

The channel accounts for about 40 percent of ITG's recruiting business and has a different set of IT needs from those of corporate IT positions, which make up the other 60 percent of the company's recruiting business.

Skill shortages inflicting the most pain in the reseller community involve individuals knowledgeable on EMC's VMware and CommVault's storage solutions, Cisco Systems certified CCIE and CCNP engineers, Microsoft MCSE and MCSA engineers, and SharePoint specialists. The channel is also recruiting for positions in sales, system administration, security and storage engineering.

On the corporate side, recruiters report slim pickings and huge demand for specialists in areas such as Microsoft's SharePoint and Cisco voice and networking products, storage engineers, and system administrators with Microsoft and Unix backgrounds.

With years of recruiting experience and a robust database of contacts, Beckett said she believes ITG's recruiting arm differentiates the company from the competition. "We also have vast resources at our fingertips to help the channel find talent," she said.

However, like every other IT staffing company, ITG is spending more time engaged in active and passive recruiting, spreading as wide a net as possible in its search for IT professionals.

The shortage of IT talent means these companies must also set realistic expectations for their clients about what they can and can't do. "We know that many of our clients are using multiple sources for filling IT positions," MRE's Neikirk said.

Given the gyrations of the economy, as well as the ups and downs of IT staffing and technology spending, offering a combination of IT services, consulting and staffing cushions many solution providers from the swings of the marketplace.

Ensynch's Holmquist said he views the combination of offerings as a three-legged stool. "It's a good hedge based on economic conditions," he said.

With years of IT staffing under their belts, these IT solution providers are certain their comprehensive business strategies contribute to their overall success, both financially and in the relationships they've been able to develop with their clients.

Lynn Haber is a freelance writer in Norwell, Mass. She can be reached at lthaber@comcast.net.




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