Given the demand for talent, companies should be willing to expand their hiring strategies and "not just fish from one specific pool of degree holders," TEKsystems' Hayman says. A conversation might start with a company's definition of a perfect-world candidate; the trick is figuring out what attributes are most essential.
Thinking outside the box can help companies land technical talent that may not come from a traditional computer science background. Tech staffing specialist Mondo has found success matching candidates who come from a marketing background with clients who are trying to fill front-end development roles, for example.
Marketing is increasingly reliant on technology, and many new graduates with marketing-related degrees have learned to develop web sites and mobile apps, notes Stephen Zafarino, technical recruiting manager at Mondo. "Clients are looking for developers as recent grads, but they don't necessarily have to come from a traditional computer science background," Zafarino says.
Setting expectations with clients is critical. "This is someone you're going to have to coach and you're going to have to mold. They're entering their career," Zafarino says of hiring new graduates.
New graduates may have to temper their expectations, too. "If I'm looking to pursue a long-term career in IT and technology, odds are I'm not going to come right out of school and get job as data scientist, or as a lead cybersecurity officer," Hayman says.
positions, such as desktop support or network support, can be a good fit for new graduates to sharpen their communication and problem-solving skills, Hayman says. "That's a great way to learn the foundational skills. A lot of times in those roles, you'll start to learn some skill sets that become really critical down the road for a successful IT career."
In the software engineering world, new graduates might find jobs in lower-level programming or analyst roles that support senior developers and software engineers; at the entry level, candidates might perform testing and defect identification, for example.
In the cybersecurity realm, a role such as information security analyst is an entry-level possibility. "They do things like run reports or test scripts, and they try to identify the issues that then get bubbled up for remediation to the higher-level security engineers and administrators." Hayman says.
A stepping-stone role for someone who wants to develop into a software engineer could be anything in the digital and creative space -- such as user experience, graphic design or social media, Hayman says. These areas "are a bit newer, and IT and the business are still trying to figure out who owns that role."
It's advantageous because these areas typically span both the IT realm and the business realm. "A lot of folks coming up through school might have some of those skill sets, and that's a great way to break in, to come in through a different door if you're somebody trying to pursue a career in IT," Hayman says.
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