Wire to hire: Potential employees less likely to consider tech-phobic companies

CareerBuilder

When we think of jobs that rely or focus on technology, we think of shared-space start-ups, basement-dwelling programmers and the suite in the back of the building where guys sit around staring at code scribbled on whiteboards while speaking in a dialect that few of us understand.

Wait a second. No, we don't. When we think of jobs that focus or rely on technology, we think of our job. And our sister's job. And a college roommate's job. In fact, it's a pretty good bet we think all jobs have a technical tie-in these days and we'd be right.

Quick, someone tell those companies that insist technology begins and ends with an intranet site, email that crashes less often than once a month or a phone system that allows you to park a call at one desk and pick it up at another.

That's not to say there are millions of workers who dive head-first in technology issues daily. In fact, according to the Computing Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA, there are 11.6 million workers in the U.S. tech industry, part of 50 million tech workers across the globe. And there are no signs of stopping anytime soon. Opportunities in emerging technology fields increased by 74 percent from 2017 to 2018, which means that if a company hasn't fully embraced technology yet, there are millions of workers who are betting their jobs that they will.

Falling behind

Still, not everyone has caught up. Seth Harrington, a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin, says he was "unpleasantly surprised" when interviewing for a job in marketing with several companies last year. "I very much have a niche field when it comes to my knowledge so my potential employers are small-to-midsize supply-chain businesses in the auto industry," Harrington says. "You would think I could find a place to work where I could help out right away but I'm not helping someone create an app for inventory. That's not my strength. But that's what I heard from three of the four companies I interviewed with last year. 'Hey, maybe you can help us build this app.' I was like 'no, that's not what I do.'"

Harrington says his needs were fairly simple. "I want to work at a place that already has technology in place. I'm not talking AI. I would settle for the basics," he says. "I wanted to work for a small, American company in the auto industry -- my dad worked for Ford for 32 years -- and help them grow. But I can't help you grow if you haven't bothered to plant the seeds."

No tech yet

Jonathon Young, a tech-firm consultant in San Jose, California, says there are still some companies that underestimate the importance of technology. "In 2019, there are still managers who are interviewing job candidates who say things like 'we're working on getting more 'techy' around here' or 'We can really use someone like you to help us stay current.' Wrong, wrong, wrong," says Young, practically mimicking what Harrington heard during his interviews. "If you want to hire the best and the brightest, you can't expect them to work in the Dark Ages. They're not going to settle for yesterday's technology."

While some job candidates may have fewer tech skills than others, hiring managers shouldn't read that as less interest. "Netflix, Hulu , Snapchat, Venmo, GasBuddy and every other app you can think of are standard for people today," Young says. "Even if you're not hiring a programmer, don't assume that your new hire will be content working in a cave."

That's if the new hire even accepts the job. "That's a big 'if,'" says Harrington, who says he turned down six jobs and is now working as a consultant for a Chinese parts company. "My client has some amazing programs but nothing is that spectacular or out of the ordinary."

That's why Harrington doesn't understand those companies still hanging onto their old-school ways. "People tell me it's the cost but really, you could practically run a place on Google apps alone," he says. "I worked as a lifeguard in Charlotte when I was home from school and everything was up-to-speed, app-wise. We did our scheduling online, sent out updates, managed our shifts, got paid. It was all right on my phone."

Young says he did some consulting last year for a start-up that was working on a payroll app. "And they paid me by check. I couldn't even get direct deposit," he says. "It was a one-and-done gig for me. Hard to take a payroll start-up seriously when their own payroll is based on what companies were doing in the 1950s. I cashed my check and moved on."

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