ICT candidates need to be extra savvy for soft market

ICT evolving

By Kate Southam

The ICT jobs market softened during January to March 2011 but some roles remain in hot demand without enough candidates to fill the vacant positions, according to recruitment group ITCRA.

ITCRA’s SkillsMatch ICT Skills Dashboard tracks the number of job placements made each quarter as well as how long it takes recruiters to fill each role.

In the first quarter of 2011 recruiters made a total of 608 placements then 677 in the second quarter and 581 in quarter three. Over the same period the amount of time it took to place a candidate in a job role dropped from 25 working days to 20.

ITCRA CEO Julia Mills told CareerOne.com.au that while there were still jobs in the ICT market; recruiters were struggling to find candidates with all the skills needed to satisfy a job brief from an employer.   

Ms Mills says that the top ten skill sets in demand have remained the same for two quarters. Help Desk and Project Management have been the top two skill sets in demand for three quarters.

Advice for ICT candidates

Ms Mills says that candidates have to tailor their job applications to each particular role. Even a professionally-prepared resume must be tailored to the specific requirements of any role candidates apply to.

She advises candidates to dissect a job ad and underline key words and criteria to help them tailor their application. ICT professionals could also ask a recruiter or employer for a job description.

Ms Mills acknowledged that there are many instances where an employer or recruiter was unable to provide a job description. In such cases, she recommends candidates check out the Skills Framework for the Information Age website to see up-to-date skill lists for specific roles. Candidates should also draw on contacts to gain added insight.

“The key for candidates is to find recruiters and companies that they can form a relationship with so they can get information that will help them,” she says.

Ms Mills says that recruiters are busy and see a lot of candidates so it pays for ICT professionals to take charge of building relationships.

“Candidates need to think ‘this is my life’ it is in their personal interest to form relationships and create the most relevant application every time.

Update ICT skills

“One of the silliest things people can do is send off a resume without checking if their IT skills [languages, certifications] are the latest in demand.

Ms Mills says return to work mothers or those who have lost a job due to redundancy and not been in work for a while who find their skills out of date should do the appropriate training and state this on their resume.

“A lot of people tend not to include that they are undergoing courses because they fear [recruiters/employers] will view them as not committed to work but I take the reverse view as I believe it shows commitment to their career.

“What is your next education plan? Identify your own skills gap and address it. Sometimes updating a skill means a one day course.”

“If [candidates] haven’t put something in their resume that relates specifically to the role they are applying for it can work against them.

Advice for ICT recruiters

On the opposite side of the hiring fence, Ms Mills believes some recruiters could do a better job of promoting candidates who might not be a 100 per cent match.

“Recruiters are driven to find a 100 per cent match for their clients so they filter out the candidates that are a 95 per cent fit. They need to work harder to promote those candidates [with a gap] and identify what that five per cent gap is and what can be done to fill it such as where training can be accessed if the candidate gets the job.”

ICT Contracting

The SkillsMatch ICT Skills Dashboard also revealed that contracting continues to grow in popularity making up nearly three-quarters of all employment in Q3.

ITCRA expects contracting to grow in strength driven by candidates themselves looking for flexibility, diversity of roles and higher salary.

Contractor Jason Atkinson decided to switch to contracting four years ago after seeing people in more junior roles doing better quality work and being paid more.

“While I’ve found there are downsides to being a contractor – such as no holidays or sick pay – the benefits are great. The variety of work and the flexibility suit my lifestyle and the challenging nature of the ICT industry means I’m gaining unique skills,” he says.

He says competition can be stiff in contracting and recommends ICT professionals in the space maintain their edge but updating skills.

ITCRA – the Information Technology Contract and Recruitment Association – has members across Australia and New Zealand.  

CareerOne.com.au, October 14, 2011

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