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Trolling For Techies

The IT worker is a rare fish these days. If you're gonna catch one, just bring the right bait.

Where have all the tech workers gone? Well, they're busy working-for someone else. A recent Commerce Department ( report called "The Digital Workforce" projects the need for 1.3 million new, highly skilled IT workers in core occupations (computer scientists and engineers, systems analysts, and computer programmers) between 1996 and 2006.

A January report from IDC, "Internet Firms Will Increase Competition for Talent," was released with this less-than-rosy statement: "The IT work force of the future will be harder to find, harder to hire, harder to retain and harder to manage." The report says the best way to find qualified employees is through referrals from current employees.

Small businesses fishing for talent with big companies will likely find themselves at a disadvantage. At least Web sites like (, ( and Jobs for Programmers ( are popular destinations for both employers and IT employees. But while finding qualified tech workers can be difficult, retaining them is another matter.

An inquiry placed on the Technology Forum revealed what techies are looking for in a small-business employer. One software engineer lists the following:

1. Develop a sense of ownership in the engineer for their company and product.

2. Develop a sense of pride in the engineer for their organization.

3. Show respect. It's true that software engineers have huge egos; catering to them makes us feel good.

4. Award salaries and bonuses equitably and fairly.

5. Don't skimp on the insurance and 401(k) programs.

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the May 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Trolling For Techies.

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