Five Ways to Improve Your IT Staff – And Security

The USA unemployment news today is twice as grim as it was last week: 6.6 million more unemployed, bringing unemployment to 9.9% in just two weeks. More hard numbers are coming, and that means all businesses need to revisit their HR standards.

Do NOT Mind the Gapjobs have been lost through no fault of the employees, or even the firms they’ve worked for. When you see that the last job worked ended around the time the pandemic hit hard, don’t ask about it. Don’t worry about it, either.

This means also making sure the algorithms used to find resumes are tuned to not look for employment gaps. If you ask me, the best algorithms are real people looking at real applications and making reasonable decisions to arrange interviews based on common sense. When algorithms sort through resumes, they have blinders on. They can’t see what certifications are equivalent to the ones they’re told to look for. They don’t know what lines of work are very close to the experience desired. Humans can figure out that stuff. And if you think I’m encouraging the use of people and the discontinuation of automated job boards, you’re absolutely right. If you’ve got jobs that have gone unfilled for months with automated resume screeners, it’s time to go back to the humans again.

Keep Your Friends Close, and Keep Your IT Closer: When we have staff that’s worked somewhere for years, they know things that only people who worked there for years would know. No outsourcer can match that. If you treat those IT workers with respect and consideration, you’ll keep that knowledge and expertise in your firm. That’s not just good for productivity, it’s good for security. They will know where the holes are and which ones are most important to patch up and repair. If they have a long-term stake in your firm, they’ll be ready to point out what needs work, and they won’t try to charge you extra for items not on the SoW.

Contractors CAN Become FTEs: If you have a rule against hiring contractors for full-time positions, written or unwritten, get rid of that rule. With the massive layoffs, lots of IT people may have to pick up a contract here or there to make ends meet while they search for their next FTE role. Lots of contractors have been trapped by senseless no-contractor rules that would be excellent assets as FTEs in your firm. And those excellent assets are going to be on top of things which brings us back to security. It’s much better to have a security role filled by a former contractor than to have that role unfilled because of a, frankly, nonsense rule.

No Experience Means NEW Experience: If someone has a general IT background and is interested in a security role, don’t shy away. If you’re about to take on a new project with a new technology, that candidate knows as much about the new technology as everyone else in your firm: that is to say, nothing. They’re going to learn just like everyone else would, so why not let that person start there? That person with no security experience is a good choice for getting some new experience.

Training Is Compensation, Not an ExpenseIT pros *want* training. When your firm cuts the training budget, that’s like cutting their salaries. When your firm promises one course per year, that’s a great thing. But if a person asks for a week off to take the course and gets told to maybe consider doing online learning on their own time, that’s a beatdown. I know we have to consider remote learning options during the pandemic, but a live teacher is so much better for interaction than a recorded training film. Keep them in vendor courses and general courses – and there’s lots of security training out there – and you’ll keep your IT pros not only happy where they are, but eagerly soliciting their contacts to apply for openings at your firm when they open up.

The world is changing around us. Make sure your employee hiring and retention policies change with the world.

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