Skills Required for Today’s Association IT Managers

Randstad Technologies identified a handful of trends shaping the tech workforce. Here’s how associations can apply them to their own hiring processes.

The only constant in technology is change, so how are associations supposed to keep up with it all?

One way is to hire the right people, but it often can be difficult to determine which job candidates have the pertinent experience and skills needed to lead associations into the future.

Drawing on some of Randstad Technologies’ recently released IT workforce trends, Rebecca Achurch, CAE, CEO of Achurch Consulting, offers some advice to associations on what skills and personality traits to look for in new IT hires.

Cybersecurity awareness. “Most IT staff will be required to have at least some expertise in cybersecurity,” said a Randstad press release. “Experts now realize this is the only way to ensure that security is ubiquitous throughout networks and systems and that security gets baked in rather than bolted on after the fact.”

While there’s no question that cybersecurity is vital, Achurch said that many associations don’t have the resources to hire a dedicated cybersecurity staff member. Rather, they should hire IT managers who know how to ask the right questions and partner with security experts to ensure the association maintains secure systems.

Mobile knowledge. According to Randstad, “Whether for consumer-facing mobile applications or for managing internal workforce processes and resources, mobile developers will become some of the hottest talent hires in 2017.” For associations, especially smaller ones with limited resources, Achurch recommended hiring IT managers who understand how mobile technologies can advance the organization and can then find partners to help develop those for the association.

A business hat. These days, IT is in charge of much more than just the server room and computer workstations. In many cases, they have a presence in the C-suite, and they have a deep understanding of how the right technology can meet the association’s business goals and advance the entire organization.

“If I were to hire one person in IT for an organization, I think it would be a business analyst,” Achurch said. “I think that’s the number-one lacking skill in associations. … It’s that blend of a technologist and someone who understands the business.”

Virtual management. Randstad expects that half of the IT workforce will be contractors, consultants, or freelancers by 2019, which means that IT managers need to prepare to work with and manage virtual teams. Trust-building and communication skills are pivotal, Achurch said, because even if an IT manager’s staff isn’t virtual, their partners—AMS providers and community learning companies—are.

In addition, Achurch said it is important to have someone on the IT staff with an institutional knowledge of the association. This person not only understands the business of the association and technology but also can articulate to partners what sort of specific technology needs are required.

Adaptable. According to Randstad, IT staff have to be able to consider and analyze the constant changes in the technological landscape—from virtual reality to the Internet of Things. Achurch said to find those adaptable IT managers, associations should look for candidates who ask good open-ended questions, who are open and curious, and who can keep their cool when asked to switch courses or field criticism from other departments. “I see those as telltale signs of how they’re going to adapt to a constantly changing environment,” Achurch said.


Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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