Consider it a classic Catch-22: Your company has plenty of open IT positions to fill, and too few qualified candidates to fill them. Now what do you do?

By all accounts, 2015 will be a spectacular year for IT workers as the unemployment rate continues to plummet, salaries increase and organizations double down on retention and engagement strategies. The challenge is finding the right candidates.

Another report from CompTIA, called Cyberstates 2015: The Definitive State-by-State Analysis of the U.S. Tech Industry (registration required) also showed that job positing in technology jumped by more than 11 percent over the previous year and some 650,000 job openings were listed in the fourth quarter of 2014. And many of those jobs remain unfilled, month after month.

How many? The White House estimates some 500,000 jobs that require various levels of tech skills sit open nationwide in the US. Just last month, the Obama administration took steps to address that talent shortage with a new $100 million TechHire Initiative.

TechHire is a new campaign to get more Americans rapidly trained for well-paying technology jobs — and simultaneously convince local governments, businesses and potential workers that a four-year degree is no longer the only way to gain the tech skills they need.

The IT talent shortage is real. Can creative and innovative hiring strategies help you address it?

The Question

Can social media and other innovative practices help companies recruit top-tier IT talent this?

The Answers

Phil Gerbyshak, Director of Social Strategy, Actiance

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Gerbyshak helps Actiance prospects and clients leverage social media to build their business and boost engagement. He joined Actiance after running his own social media agency for several years, where he trained financial advisors, insurance agents and business owners on the use of social media. Before that, he was a vice president of information technology at a financial services company in Milwaukee. Tweet to Phil Gerbyshak.

Recruiters are turning to social media to set themselves and their firms apart. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Find and join groups inside existing virtual communities where IT professionals already hang out. Some examples could be game sites, programming sites like GitHub and other special interest sites. For instance, if the IT people you are targeting play Minecraft, check out Community to see if there are ways to get involved. Join groups on traditional social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn and jump into tweetchats on Twitter.
  2. Search on Meetup.com to find, attend and sponsor Meetups in your area around the software and software types your target IT professionals use, support and are interested in learning about.
  3. Find subject-matter experts by searching by topic and location on social media and connect them to local resources to help them grow their local influence.
  4. Use Glassdoor to find companies where IT professionals are unhappy and place ads on Facebook and LinkedIn to target employees of those companies, with the focus being on how your company is different from where they are today.
  5. Create a fantasy sports competition and invite in the IT professionals you want to get to know.
  6. Take an interest in what's happening in the communities you join and congratulate people on their accomplishments. Participate in conversations and demonstrate your expertise. Listen first to get a sense of the tone. Be useful. And most importantly be your authentic self.

Ian Cox, board and CIO adviser, Axin

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Cox is a writer who advises CIOs and board members about IT functions, services and platforms across different industries. His goal is to "help organizations get the most out of their technology and digital investments by providing advice and insights into how IT can be used to shape and drive strategy, provide differentiation and enable transformation." He previously held management positions in business development, operations and business change. He is the author of the book, Disrupt IT. Tweet to Ian Cox.

When people search for a new job they are often looking for more than just a higher salary or more responsibility. This is particularly true for workers in areas such as cloud, mobile and analytics that are fueling the digital revolution as demand for these skills is outstripping supply.

Salaries are on the rise for jobs in these areas and the most talented can almost name their price when it comes to salary negotiations. So how do you make your organization stand out from the rest of the pack?

Talented technology workers want to join an organization that is going places, where technology is being used to make a real difference to the bottom line and where their role is valued and important. And they want to know that they will be working on innovative and interesting projects that will further their own skills and experience as well as pushing the company forward.

Social media provides organizations with multiple channels for engaging with potential employees. It can be used to tell the organization’s “story” by demonstrating its culture, showcasing its successes and giving it a voice and a personality.

This is different to the traditional press release and case studies that are pushed out from the company’s website. This is a two-way process that uses the tools that your target audience uses and adopts a style and format that is consistent with each tool.

But a word of caution: you have to be genuine. Social media is an unforgiving place if you try to be something you are not. So you actually have to be doing the things you talk about; your organization has to be a good place to work.

Anthony Curlo, President and CEO, DaVinciTek

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Curlo is an entrepreneur and management advisory strategist with more than 25 years of experience in start-ups, acquisitions, capital investments, joint ventures and financial restructuring. He has also held leadership positions with Fortune 500 companies. DaVinciTek is a Morristown, N.J.-based provider of IT infrastructure services and solutions to Global 2000 and emerging corporations. Tweet to Anthony Curlo.

At DaVinciTek, we've moved away from simply tapping into social media to connect with candidates. Social is embedded in our entire process.

Recruiting top-tier talent requires up-to-date knowledge of large, sought-after employers to keep a pulse on their activity and shifting needs. Being connected with active members of these companies and the overall space on LinkedIn and following the right people allows you to see announcements and information they share. This arms us with valuable information that we integrate into our engagement with top talent as well as better serve them once dialogue has begun.

To sustain this, we recommend IT companies to engage and create meaningful content rather than just have a passive presence. Seek out and participate in the communities and groups and this will lead to more quality sources of insight.

As your own network expands with greater relationships, you now have more members of the overall space that will share your job openings with the talent you seek. Further, companies should use Twitter to provide a snippet of their job postings with links leading the user to a full job listing.

The same can be applied to posts that share background info on your company linking to your company profiles. Also, you can create a Twitter handle just for your job openings and build a quality following for it in your community.

Title image by Asa Aarons Smith/all rights reserved.