"IT is hiring again, but they feel like its finding a needle in a haystack. IT recruits from three major audiences, but recruiters tend to only focus on one: current IT professionals," Bright said. "In this middle, we have a huge squeeze. Theyre looking for specialized skills and people with the three key components of technical skills, business acumen and interpersonal skills are the most sought-after and hardest to hire." "As a de facto recruiting strategy, this is ineffective use of time as it doesnt do anything to expand the pool, and leads to salary inflation, poaching and a very overfished pond," Bright said.College students and student interns remain an underused talent stream for enterprise IT because IT leaders are either unwilling to invest in them or are disillusioned because of negative past experiences, according to the Forrester report. Cost constraints are often cited by CIOs at smaller organizations as a barrier to hiring recent college graduates because training them can be costly.College interns often complain that theyve been given an unclear career path, leaving them confused as to their roles and future, according to Forrester. In addition, IT leaders often have unrealistic expectations of college interns or a lack of comfort with generational differences in work styles and approaches to technology. "As for college students, on the front end so many organizations are not comfortable hiring at the entry level, but on the back end baby boomers and the first wave of IT professionals will soon retire, so the pool needs to be expanded," Bright said. A more practical approach would be to start earlier, argues Forrester, because by the time students graduate from high school, they may have already been conditioned against IT by well-meaning parents. Communicating with middle and high school students, reaching out to guidance counselors and offering internships to promising high school students are better approaches to countering negative images of IT and presenting it as a rewarding career option. Furthermore, establishing the role of a part-time college relationship manager who can monitor the talent pipeline, develop relationships with professors, evangelize recruiting and coordinate recruiting with human resources has proved successful, as has revitalizing an IT internship program that supplements college studies and involves former interns in shaping the program. Partnering with vendors that have an established recruiting infrastructure, have technology for e-learning curricula or that will sponsor an internship was seen by Forrester as helpful to CIOs in attracting students to an enterprise IT career. Business professionals were considered by Forrester as a potentially large but invisible source that IT leaders can utilize. CIOs typically found the most desirable candidates among superusers, who have both technical aptitude and business knowledge, "shadow IT" (people who develop business unit-specific applications) and IT counterparts, who work as technology project leads. Business-to-IT rotational transfers, though still relatively uncommon, led to many permanent transfers once individuals were sold on the ability to influence business processes, Forresters report said. IT leaders are likely already marketing ITs accomplishments to business users, but theyd benefit from marketing the career aspect as well. Being alert to the candidate pool, from superusers to individuals who recently may have been the victims of layoffs, is considered helpful, as is continuously marketing the IT career opportunity to adjacent employees, the report said. Furthermore, by enhancing communication and mobility between IT and business, once IT has elevated its reputation with the business through consistent performance and general marketing, it often finds an increase in inbound inquiries from business professionals who want an end-to-end view of technologys role in enabling business operations, according to the report. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on IT management.