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5 Ways to Find Hidden IT Talent in Your Organization


A bank teller, marketer and operational product owner at TruStone Financial Credit Union each had a knack for technology, but they didn’t think it would lead to a job in the IT department. Yet all three are now part of CIO Gary Jeter’s IT team, and not because he desperately needs bodies. The credit union’s formal and informal programs help Jeter find hidden IT gems within the 600-person organization.

In the past year alone, six new members of the IT team have come from other TruStone departments. IT’s “walk in their shoes” job shadowing initiative and the company’s formal leadership training program help employees find career growth within the company, but Jeter attributes the attraction to the IT department, particularly to its valued culture and career progression path. , which is more difficult to find in other areas of the medium-sized company.

Above all, these transfers must be a good IT-friendly culture, says Jeter. “I want people who run at us, not people running away from a situation,” he adds.

Finding IT talent within the organization benefits both the employee and the CIO. Recent layoffs and prevailing hiring trends in some organizations could make IT an attractive option for tech-savvy employees. At the same time, CIOs who are unable or unwilling to hire replacements at significantly higher salaries than those who left might be able to transition talent into IT without having to pay big raises, which are estimated at 5 to 6% above the existing ones. levels for new recruits, according to Janco and Associates. Moreover, these employees already know the company. And of course, organizations benefit from retain employees.

Here are five ways companies are finding hidden IT talent within their own organization.

Hire leaders and train skills

Jeter follows the mantra, hire leaders and build skills, “leaders being people who are eager to learn,” he says. In conversations with such interested employees, he looks for evidence of an inquisitive mind, so he will ask about hobbies, for example. The cashier didn’t have a college degree but explained that she was on the robotics team in high school and taught herself Python coding.

“When you’re constantly running after [tech interests] outside of work, you’re probably going to come in and do a great job,” Jeter says. Today, the former cashier is an analyst of computer systems supporting mortgage loan applications.

Jeter will also assess the candidate’s reasoning skills by asking questions such as “How many piano tuners are there in Minneapolis?” Jeter said. “The answer doesn’t matter, it’s the logic they use,” such as how many people play the piano, how many pianos in the city, and how many pianos a tuner needs to earn a living.

Internal Skills Markets

Internal skills marketplaces are emerging as a way to retain tech workers while meeting demands for agile digital environments. Millennial tech workers often report feeling “trapped in the org chart” with a predefined job description that limits their work, says Jonathan Pearce, head of workforce strategies at Deloitte Consulting. The feeling is that “it would be easier to continue to develop my career if I looked outside the organization rather than inside. There is no possibility of putting my skills on the table. Meanwhile, project managers must connect the work that needs to be done with the right set of skills, some of which may come from a sub-function of IT. Internal skills markets address both of these needs by matching workers’ skills, not their job titles, with the work that needs to be done.

The Navy Federal Credit Union uncovers hidden IT talent through its Talent Optimization Program, which began in 2016. “We knew there was tech talent in the credit union who didn’t work in IT. says CIO Tony Gallardy. “The question was how to find these people? His team used a talent assessment tool and identified 10 candidates for their pilot program. Each followed nine months of training and then integrated into IT. Today, HR manages the talent optimization program and has expanded into other areas including Mission Data, which is a subset of IT, and Digital Labs. More than 30 people have come to computer science through the program, Gallardy says.

Some companies are using AI-based skills management platforms as a talent assessment tool to match people’s skills to IT. Consumer goods company Unilever, for example, used its internal AI-powered talent marketplace to redeploy more than 8,000 employees during the pandemic.

An internal talent market can also reduce internal hiring biases and increase networking that promotes diversity. Hiring managers can focus only on skills and years of experience rather than education by removing this visible area, for example. Others are using the platform to build senior-to-junior, junior-to-senior, peer-to-peer, and expert-to-novice mentoring relationships, which breaks taboos in relationships, connects people globally, and facilitates a meaningful work. and retention.

training camps

Training programs such as IT bootcamps have become increasingly important tools for creating new opportunities for employees, while helping to fill key IT positions.

Progressive Insurance Company saw an opportunity to fill important roles by investing in its own employees who already have a wealth of knowledge about the organization, while removing some of the barriers to eligibility for certain tech jobs.

The Progressive IT Bootcamp pilot program launched in 2021 with eight participants from customer support, underwriting and claims departments, who graduated in November and are now working as associate computer application programmers in teams across the company.

The bootcamp team worked with HR to identify some customer-facing roles and invited members to apply. The team emphasized that employees don’t need a technical background or tech degree — all experience and knowledge would be provided to them through the bootcamp.

Once bootcamp candidates were identified and accepted, they were removed from their previous roles and put into the intensive 15-week training program where they learned C#, .NET and other skills needed for their new role.

Employees are paid during their training and are supported by a training assistant who is also a full-time progressive programmer who helps connect the dots from what they are learning to how it would apply in their new roles. Program participants also report directly to an IT manager.

The company is currently working on another version of the program, focusing on analyst roles, and plans to include other technical roles in the future.

Career change programs

Capital One’s commitment to career development has helped motivate employees to stay despite waves of resignations at other organizations. One of its programs, the internal program Capital One College of Technology gives employees inside and outside of IT the opportunity to develop their technology skills. It provides access to thousands of free training and certification courses in areas such as agility, cloud, cybersecurity, data, machine learning and AI, as well as mobile and software engineering. The Tech College offers both live classes and pre-recorded classes to accommodate employee schedules and learning styles.

Through the Tech College, Capital One can develop the necessary skills internally, while giving employees the opportunity to grow and expand their careers and skills, according to Mike Eason, senior vice president and CIO of engineering. enterprise data and machine learning at Capital Une.

Eason himself says he’s held about 15 different roles at Capital One over the past 20 years and notes that the formal career development process helps employees find what they’re passionate about without having to leave the company. “We really want to invest in the whole person rather than pigeonholing them into doing the same thing,” Eason says.

Leverage internal sources

No one knows the hidden IT talents of non-IT employees better than their managers and colleagues. At TruStone, business leaders and managers are open to recognizing employees with IT potential that could benefit both the employee’s career and the business. “We are transparent that he would be a great person to [an IT] career progression, so maybe they should go into IT,” says Jeter.

Jeter often discovers talent through product management consultants on his team within the organization. “With many large-scale agile executives, we have product owners who sit outside of IT but within the business in areas such as consumer lending, member services, or mortgages. We have technologies to align with them and they orchestrate the backlog” and other support tasks, Jeter says. “They see what IT does, and we see what they do – and some of them want to get into IT.”

IT recently recruited a new member to the team after a product owner in operations worked with IT on a product management consultation. He had been with the company for nine years and worked in training before business operations. Jeter got him into IT and today he works with consumer lending apps. “He knows the business and now he’s learning the technology.”

Getting those transfers up to speed and fully operational takes time, Jeter says. “Some people learn the technical aspects of the business at different rates than others.” Jeter’s vice presidents and managers need to transition from “being a doer to a coach,” he says. “We also spend a lot of time on performance management sessions and making sure we have development plans.” But the effort is worth it, he says.

“Showing you’re investing in employees attracts talent internally,” says Jeter. “You give them those skills to launch their careers.”