Social-Focused IT Hires On Back Burner - InformationWeek

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Social-Focused IT Hires On Back Burner

Companies that have made social a high priority, though, are adding a significant number of jobs, according to InformationWeek IT staffing survey.

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Social networking is hot. IT hiring around social networking is not, according to the InformationWeek 2012 State of IT Staffing Survey.

To find out which technologies are driving increases in IT staffing, InformationWeek surveyed 1,391 IT professionals who hire or manage IT personnel. Only 9% of respondents said that social/collaboration is an area in which they will be increasing staffing during the next 12 months, either through hiring or "reassignments," which are current employees who acquire new skills. The areas most likely to see staff increases in the next year are security (24%), application development (23%) and application delivery (21%).

Although companies in general might not be increasing IT staff due to social, the hiring picture changes for companies that have made social a high priority. Those respondents expect to add a fairly substantial number of staff people focused on social. About 20% of those respondents said they will increase staffing in the social/collaboration area by more than 30% in the next two years; 4% anticipated a 21% to 30% increase; and almost one-fifth said they will increase staff by 11% to 20%. Sixty percent of those respondents said they will increase staff by 10% or less in the next two years.

Matt Ripaldi, senior VP at IT staffing firm Modis, said he is seeing a steady increase in the demand for people who have social networking skills, in a variety of areas.

"We are definitely seeing an increase in social media jobs, and when we look at those jobs, they are primarily around four different buckets," said Ripaldi. "One of the buckets would be content: What are we going to say? How are we going to say it? Creators, editors, and so forth. Another bucket would be around the strategy of online presence or social media presence -- people who have built a strategy from scratch and people to execute on that strategy. A lot of times, companies want people who have done it before -- especially those companies that are a little bit behind with social media. They're looking for candidates who have done it successfully somewhere else. The third bucket is more messaging, community: What is our brand doing out there? What people are looking at us? What are their demographics? What are they saying about us? How are we looked at in the market?"

[ Related: Social Opens New IT Career Path In Marketing. ]

The fourth bucket is where IT comes in, said Ripaldi. "The fourth bucket is usually around developers -- product and software developers who are developing the applications to get social to do what we want it to do."

There is no dearth of knowledge about social/collaboration technology, according to the survey. Seventy-six percent of respondents who named social/collaboration as a top area of staffing increase said people with skills or experience specific to social/collaboration already exist within the organization. This is not surprising when you consider the origins of social networking: People were using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms long before any company decided to transform itself into a social business.

Sixty percent of respondents who named social/collaboration as a top area of staffing increase said that they will either retrain existing staff or will mostly retrain existing staff and hire/contract a few people. Twenty-four percent of respondents said they will do a mix of retraining and hiring/contracting, while 16% said they will hire/contract to fill the need for workers in their area.

So, what kinds of skills will IT pros need to fill social-focused roles? Modis' Ripaldi said communications is key. "Obviously, you want someone who is comfortable within social media and how you measure success, how you develop a social media plan," he said. "From the IT, or a technical, perspective, knowledge of those technologies that are used within things like mobile app development or big data is important. How do you take big data and analyze it? There are a lot of different tools that let you do that. Being well-versed in these areas makes you a more attractive candidate."

Is your organization increasing staffing to handle social media? In what kinds of roles? Please let us know in the comments section below. Check out the full report on social/collaboration staffing here.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

InformationWeek is conducting our annual Outlook Survey to explore how IT leaders are planning their priorities and budgets for 2013. The results of the survey will appear in an upcoming issue as well as in an in-depth report. Take our InformationWeek 2013 Outlook Survey now and enter to win one Samsung Series 5 Chromebook. Survey ends Nov. 19.

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