How to Win the IT Advisory Talent Battle


Demand never has been higher for the IT advisory skill set. At our firm, we’re seeing more competition now than even existed in the SOX boom of the mid-2000s. Positions across the United States are re-maining open for months at a time. Your company wants to make sure it’s not settling on the first ap-plicant who knows the difference between CISA and COBIT and, instead, wants to attract the brightest talent that will really make a difference to your team.

We’ve seen some common themes among our clients who consistently attract the best candidates, and I’d like to share them with you so that you can win the talent war in 2017 and beyond.

The number one motivation for making a job change that I hear time and time again goes something like this: “I don’t feel like my position really makes a difference. I just check up on everyone else.” You need to make sure you’re marketing your position as one that allows the applicant to see the meaning and purpose of his or her work. Tell them success stories about your department and paint a picture for them about how you are perceived in the organization.

A recent example from one of our clients was a project where the business operations and IT security teams could not agree on the best way to move forward on a large product rollout. The IT audit team (through years of showing its value to the business) was instrumental in making sure both sides came to an agreement in order to release a workable product. Not only does this IT audit team now have the pride and satisfaction from helping shape one of the company’s most important initiatives, but is has also turned into a great recruiting story allowing them to attract top talent. That’s true impact.

Work/life balance
The rise of the Silicon Valley style corporations with unlimited vacation time, a whole year for paterni-ty/maternity leave and game tables in every conference room has made it difficult to win the talent war without offering an appealing work/life balance. At the management level, I know you’re not able to change large policies like I’ve mentioned above, but what you can do is make your department one that embraces technological advances that allows your employees to work when they can, where they can.

I realize that this is more easily said than done, but companies that are doing this are able to attract the best talent. Perks such as working a day a week from home, flexible work schedules (get in early/leave early, etc.,) and making sure on-site time is used to maximize face-to-face encounters with internal customers and team members while the rest of the work is done from a coffee shop, etc., will help you to be much more appealing to the generation that has grown up with information available any-where, on any platform.

Obviously, your goal is to retain the talent you are able to attract. The best way to do that is to make sure your employees are challenged, able to grow and never bored: “I want to make sure I’m not a (insert job title here) forever.”

It’s a common concern among candidates I speak with and human nature to not want to feel trapped. Candidates want to feel there is a career path for them and know that they won’t be doing the same thing every day. They crave variety, challenge, growth and advancement. If you plan to hire someone who already knows how to do everything in your job description, you’re setting yourself up to have someone leave your department early if there is no significant growth or challenge for them if they stay. In so far as possible, create opportunities for your employees to add to their skill sets, and enable them to advance within and eventually beyond your department. If you don’t have a compelling story about the growth opportunities you can provide for your new team members, you will continue to lose that talent to other companies who can show them a challenging career path.

Use what sets you apart
If you search for the term “CISA” on LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster and CareerBuilder, you’ll find thou-sands of available roles. On ISACA’s own job board, there are 500. With competition like that, you need to be sure your company and opportunity stands out from the rest.

What is special about your company that attracted you to work there? How do you address mentoring younger talent? What processes do you have in place to groom the candidate for future leadership roles? Also, make sure to allow the applicant to go to lunch with potential co-workers, not just manag-ers. Applicants who leave the interview believing they will enjoy working beside the people they meet will be much more inclined to want to work for you.

Highlighting smaller perks doesn’t hurt, either. Do you have a generous 401K match? Does your com-pany offer free lunches in the cafeteria? Have an onsite daycare? Make sure you advertise those.

My goal for this article was to provide value to you and help you identify some things you can do to attract the talent you need to succeed. If I can answer any questions to help you win the talent battle, write your questions in the comments below!

Brad Owens, Recruiting Director, Duval Search

[ISACA Now Blog]

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