eWeek: Ron, you touched on something earlier: Youve seen a lot of companies bring in IT HR people to sift through this mountain of résumés. We hear a lot from our readers, people who are unemployed or underemployed, who are very frustrated at this new level of interface they have to go through. They say these people dont really know much about IT or technology. Divinere: Many times, I think, theyre overwhelmed because, with the job boards that are out there today, theres so many résumés to go through. [In addition,] businesses are very specific on their hiring. A couple of years ago, they wanted somebody with skills A, B, C, D. And [if] the person had A, B, C, theyd hire them. Today, they want A, B, C, D, [and] you have to have A, B, C, D and X, Y, Z. ...D. Brown: The other thing is, we talk about IT resources. The ability to rent higher-level resources at lower prices, I think, is certainly a lot different than it was a few years ago. You can go out and hire good contractors. You can bring in consultants. Given the uncertainty in the market ... if you really need to bring in people now, theres an opportunity to bring in a higher-level individual at a lower price via the contractor route. The risk there is if the project goes away, the person goes away. ... I guess what Im saying is, if Im looking right now to upgrade, theres an opportunity to do that without a lot of risk, using contractors. eWeek: What were hearing now is that, because you can get all these skills on the marketplace, its almost like age discrimination has turned around: Organizations can get people with lots of experience for relatively little money. Are you seeing that? D. Brown: Bringing [in someone with] more [experience] than you actually need ... can be a positive. It can also be a negative. They can be destructive forces, if theyre politically astute, if they decide they maybe want to get inside and zero in [on a particular job]. It happens. There are potential negatives that need to be managed as well. C. Brown: Theres another positive spin you might put on it. A lot of firms from the late 90s were also putting in ERP [enterprise resource planning] systems, packaged systems. And they need to change the skill set for that. A lot of the client firms that I talk to need business analysts, the consultant-type skills. ... There is another golden opportunity for them to bring in some of those people who have that experience. Barrett: There are less people investing in the $10 [million], $20 million ERP and CRM [customer relationship management] systems. ... But youre right, you will need to hire the type of business analysis skills involved in such projects when management decides that they do need data from such systemshopefully, soonand you do need those projects. Luftman: In most studies, the No. 1 requirement during the boom years was just leadership. Not even with IT in front of it, just general leadership, was No. 1. Barrett: Ive seen a lot of people now whore thinking of becoming a [Certified Project Manager] going to the Project Management Institute training to get certified on how to do projects. IT people, the ones being hired, are for specific projects. Not just the IT people, but anybody needs to almost prove that they know how to manage a project. Luftman: Most of those are again the younger people, or the first-level managers. If youre a middle-level manager or above, its assumed you already know that. Barrett: I question that sometimes. eWeek: Relating to enterprise systems, its not just that companies arent deploying ambitious new systems. Many firmssuch as in the retail industrycant even fully implement the enterprise systems theyve already put in because they dont have the staff to do it. Theyre collecting data from data warehousing, and they cant even do anything with it. Are you seeing that? Luftman: You take a look at the consultants who were involved in working with the firms and doing some of the newer initiatives, and theyre hurting, too, because companies dont want to invest in those things. Those consultants were smart to take advantage of 9/11. They all hung up shingles that they were all the experts in catastrophic planning ... security, too. Those two areas are really going on. ... If you cant sell catastrophic planning and security to your business partners now, youre never going to sell it. And thats the kind of thing that people do, rather than the strategic initiatives we were talking about.
When hiring managers want to hire for those specific skills, its more difficult. And then you have to go through an awful lot of résumés because theres a lot of people available.