BizTECH18 Recap: Finding and Developing IT Talent

It’s no secret that companies in Northeast Ohio are facing a shortage of IT workers. A panel of tech experts at the recent BizTECH18 conference identified three potential solutions to this problem.

In 2017, there were 16,000 job technology-related job openings across Northeast Ohio. And just one new college graduate for every 10 job postings.

It’s clear to see companies across the region are facing a big talent gap when it comes to finding candidates to fill their tech positions. So, where is the talent hiding? How can the region develop this talent into candidates for tech positions? And once these people have been developed, what’s the best way for Northeast Ohio companies to retain these workers?

Those are the questions that a panel of IT experts set out to answer during the recent BizTECH18 conference during a session titled “IT Talent: Finding It, Developing It, Diversifying It—Best Practice Strategies” that was moderated by Vantage’s Dana Dombrowski. Sitting on the panel were: John Flynn of MCPc; Tuwhanna Lewis of CES; Cal Al-Dhubaib of Pandata; Courtney DeOreo of RITE; and Anthony Hughes of Tech Elevator.

Here’s what they had to say:

Building a culture of IT

There are 177,000 high schoolers in Northeast Ohio. One foundational step the region can take to help fill the IT talent pipeline is to foster a culture of IT and build a sense of IT community throughout the region that appeals to these young people, Al-Dhubaib said.

If young people feel like they don’t have any roots in this area, they won’t stay and the IT pipeline shortage will continue, he said. Lewis agreed, adding that setting up mentorship programs throughout the area will help create IT roots for these students. She said these mentorship programs could be used to connect students to existing resources and show them the tech opportunities that exist in Northeast Ohio. These mentors could also help their students prep for interviews and build a support system for them.

Leverage internships

The panelists agreed that the best way to recruit is to convince the young professionals who are already here to stay by investing in their success, beginning as early as possible. On that note, Flynn said there’s much companies could be doing to utilize internship programs to help alleviate the talent crunch.

By working in the IT field locally, executives can show students that the quality of life here locally is a more sustainable one than that of Silicon Valley.

Look within

Attitudes toward developing and diversifying IT talent need to change, the panelists said, and one solution suggested is for company officials to look within their own organizations for hidden talent to develop.

Hiring managers should alert staff in non-IT departments of tech openings and not be turned off by the lack of a tech background as much of the building block skills these employees would need in their new roles can be taught. By creating these new career paths, companies can also help boost their employee retention rates, the panelists said.

Not only is there untapped potential in looking in a new pool for job candidates, it can also help bring in a new layer of diversity to a company’s IT ranks, the panelists said.

BizTECH18 was just one of the many events the Greater Cleveland Partnership was involved in during 2018. Click here to view additional upcoming events that could help your business grow.

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  • Next up: Blogging as a Digital Marketing Strategy
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  • Blogging as a Digital Marketing Strategy

    Don’t think of your company blog as a hassle. Think of it as a lean, mean qualified-lead grabbing machine.

    Last month, we talked about seven digital marketing strategies for your business. This month, we’d like to dig a little deeper and focus on one in particular: The often misunderstood, and much maligned, company blog.

    Often regarded by business owners as a high-maintenance hassle, the company blog is like an employee on your payroll who shows tremendous potential, but you just can’t quite figure out what to do with them. So, for years, you simply let it rot. And, as a result, you’ve compromised the structural integrity of both your website and your company. Perception is reality, and few things looks worse than

    an outdated blog post. It’s the digital equivalent of an abandoned building or an empty storefront. You might think you’re better off not having one at all. But, stop right there.

    A well-managed company blog has many benefits for your business. Updating it regularly with bite-sized content full of market and trade specific keywords (i.e., terminology related to your business) can help improve your site’s SEO (search engine optimization) rankings. This leads to more traffic to your website, and, ultimately, to new business. Information changes hands at such a breakneck pace these days. The average shelf life of content has diminished. Fortunately, there are new strategies you can implement so that your blog works for you.

    With a little motivation and a bit of strategy, updating your company blog can be as easy as remembering to take your vitamins. Here are four tips to help you manage your company blog, low-maintenance style, for maximum effect.

    1. Learn what goes on behind the scenes of your website. This is commonly referred to as the “backend”, or the administrative stage, of your website’s CMS (content management system). The backend is where all the nuts and bolts of your website reside. (Note: Think of the backend as the back entrance of your business and, conversely, the “front end” as the storefront entrance.) The backend is the behind the scenes place where both the complicated stuff (i.e., coding) and the simple stuff (i.e., basic formatting of text) are implemented.

    We know what you’re thinking, “Wait, this is already starting to get too complicated. Get me outta here!” Not to worry. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. You’re not training to become a professional Web developer here. Managing a blog requires a lot less heavy lifting from a technical perspective. But you’ve got to be ready to do more than just write content and dump it onto the Web these days. There’s way too much static out there to begin with. Thankfully, there are simple steps you can take.

    Optimize your blog posts before they’re published by designating them under assigned categories, adding important “tags”, adding SEO titles, and focus keywords. These steps form a kind of digital shadow around your content which, when cast onto the Internet, can make a big impression. Beware the post that casts no shadow. Optimize your Blog posts prior to publishing them.

    Most CMS’s these days, (for example, WordPress, Joomla, etc.) include many user friendly and intuitive tools for managing content and many of these tools are pre-built into today’s CMS’s. You can systematically optimize your content, monitor it, and ensure its survival out there in the wilds of the Internet. By utilizing many backend default settings and tools, you are allowing your content to cut through the clutter and distinguish itself from the static. Take time and get more acquainted with the tools and settings available to you through your particular CMS.

    2. Remember to keep it simple. This goes back to the aging blog that hasn’t been updated in years, with the wind whipping through its pages and tumbleweeds rolling on the ground around it. Most fallow blogs out there have been neglected because the bar was set too high in the beginning. It’s OK to lower the bar now. Keep your content short and sweet. Think of it like a journal, a brief dispatch from the trenches of your business. Long-winded posts are not only intimidating to write, they’re also hard to read.

    3. Know your audience, but write for the web at large. I talk to a lot of clients who think that any news they could possibly share with the world through a blog is much too trade specific to be of interest to anyone. If you’re among those out there who feel this way, I say you are missing the point.

    Look at it this way: All websites require regular, fresh content to stay relevant. Having a designated place on your website to put this content is a must for your business. Your company blog is that place. The older your content, the lower your rankings in the search engines of the world. Fresh content allows more people to find you.

    Of course, the more consistent you are in managing a blog, the better your odds at attracting other trade geeks already well within your orbit. Certainly, you want to grow your network as much as possible among the converts and the uninitiated. Think of your blog less like a book club and more like a massive billboard. Billboards are simple, direct, and designed to get everyone’s attention.

    4. Everybody has a story to tell. Talk about what you do. Here are three examples.

    a.) You run a plumbing business. You’ve been in business for three generations. You’re an expert in your field. Use your Blog to offer up quick tips and advice for the less handy among us. Be sure to pepper your posts with relevant keywords. Not only are you garnering interest among the uninitiated, but you’re also building trust, and familiarity with potential clients.

    b.) Perhaps you run a rigging company and you were recently hired to work on a high profile construction project in your city involving a heavy duty industrial installation. Some of the objects handled during the installation are iconic and would be recognized by a broader audience within the city. Posting a blog about this project, with the right number of photos and keywords not only appeals to others in your trade, but also to the public. This kind of content is good for your business for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is raising the profile of your business.

    c.) You run an appliance store, selling new and antique furniture. Refurbishment happens to be a large part of your business. Using your blog to present regular, notable furniture restorations can lead to more traffic to your site, a bit of prestige, and a higher profile for your business.

    Michael J. Miller is a part of the Go Media team. To learn more about building the right digital marketing strategy for your business, contact Go Media, your Cleveland Digital Marketing Specialists.

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  • Next up: 'Brewers Are the New Rock Stars'
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  • 'Brewers Are the New Rock Stars'

    Miss out on this year’s craft beer session at the Middle Market Forum? Not to worry! Scroll to the bottom of this article to watch a video highlight recap of this session.

    These are heady times for Ohio’s craft beer industry. The Ohio Craft Brewers Association reports that Ohio ranks No. 4 in the country in craft beer production. This industry has a $2.67-billion impact and supports more than 15,000 jobs.

    Leaders of the region’s growing craft brewery industry gathered during this year’s Middle Market Forum to talk about collaboration in the industry, their strategic vision and what’s next for the industry. Taking part in this session were:

    • Bill Boor, CEO of Great Lakes Brewing Co.
    • Tanisha Robinson, CEO of BrewDog
    • Justin Carson, owner of Platform Beer Co.
    • Mary MacDonald, executive director of the Ohio Craft Beer Association

    Scroll down to the bottom of this article to view video highlights from this unique session.

    The Middle Market Forum is just one of the many events the Greater Cleveland Partnership hosts each year to help the area’s businesses gain the resources and make the connections they need to succeed. View other upcoming Greater Cleveland Partnership events by clicking here.

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  • Next up: Budget-Friendly Digital Marketing
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  • Budget-Friendly Digital Marketing

    Do you have a solid understanding of your digital marketing strategy? This webinar will show you how to create a budget-friendly, trackable, well-defined plan that will generate a return for your business.

    Do you have a solid understanding of your digital marketing strategy? This webinar will show you how to create a budget-friendly, trackable, well-defined plan that will generate a return for your business.

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  • Next up: Build Your Brand, Build Your Business
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  • Build Your Brand, Build Your Business

    Office Depot Print & Copy Services™ delivers everything from business cards to banners, presentations to promotional products. Order custom printing online or in-store. The process is simple: Upload your files online, then simply choose delivery or pick up at a store. Same Day printing and pickup options are available on many items.

    Though great services are often hard to come by, companies of all types can benefit from having the right print and copy provider on their side. From specialty boutiques, to realtors, restaurants and more, each of us needs a reliable partner that we can count on for printing services. Office Depot Print & Copy services produces high-quality custom printing and fast turnaround at a great price. With its network of regional print centers, Office Depot printing services will have you covered whether your job is big or small.

    COSE has negotiated special pricing on print and copy services exclusively for our members. We heard from an attendee at BizConCle that she had recently printed a custom event invitation that would have cost $86.25 for printing, but with her COSE Store Purchasing Card, she paid only $36.25.

    The process of ordering print and copy services is simple. Upload your files online and then choose to have your order delivered or pick it up at a store that is convenient for you. If you need a little more assistance or if you simply prefer not to order online, visit your local store and speak to an associate about your project. Office Depot’s Print & Copy associates are more than happy to help.

    While you are traveling, don't forget Office Depot printing associates are here to help with your presentations and binders. Upload or drop off PowerPoint presentations or PDF documents and let us do the copying, tabs, spiral binding, create ring binders and covers. We can even pack your presentations and ship them to multiple locations to help save you time. Visit the COSE-Office Depot website to easily find local stores offering printing services.

    Companies rely on print and copy services from Office Depot as their main resource for printing and distribution services. Display professionalism with quality business cards, stationery, custom stamps, envelopes, checks, labels, engraved signs and more from COSE’s official partner, Office Depot. To learn more about the benefits of the Office Depot Savings Program, please click here.

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  • Next up: Build Your Legal Toolbox
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  • Build Your Legal Toolbox

    Every small business needs to have a strong legal foundation to stand on. What tools do you need to have in your legal toolbox?

    Every small business needs to have a strong legal foundation to stand on. What tools do you need to have in your legal toolbox?



    Download a PDF version of the presentation here.

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