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GM CIO: Why We're Hiring Recent College Grads

General Motors CIO explains why IT newbies will be welcome as his team fills thousands of U.S. developer jobs.

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General Motors is hiring thousands of IT pros as the automaker shifts away from outsourcing, and around 25% to 35% of those new jobs are likely to be filled with people coming right out of college, GM CIO Randy Mott told attendees at the InformationWeek 500 conference Monday in Dana Point, Calif.

General Motors is in the midst of a massive IT overhaul that includes having GM employees do 90% of its IT work, whereas in the past it has relied on IT outsourcers for about 90% of its work. That will require hiring thousands of GM IT workers over the next five years.

Most of those IT jobs will be in the United States. GM plans to have about four technology development centers--one in the Detroit area, one in Austin, Texas, and the others in locations not yet named. The big driver for those locations will be ability to attract talent, including proximity to universities.

[ Collaboration-based hiring practices are gaining traction, especially with younger workers. Read more at Free Social Recruiting App Winning Over Larger Companies. ]

Mott said there are a lot of good reasons to keep a steady flow of fresh-from-college graduates coming into the company. "I'm looking for a high level of energy, and that's what I get," Mott told the InformationWeek 500 conference audience. New college grads also bring a fresh view on how to do things, so they tend to challenge expectations like how long it should take to do a given assignment. "They don't know what they don't know," Mott said. "And they don't know that something's not possible. Within a very short time they rewrite the rulebook for how long it takes to do something."

Of course, new graduates lack the technical experience and the business and industry savvy that more veteran IT pros have. But IT always requires a high degree of learning given the rate of technology change, and college grads can learn as fast as any other worker, Mott said. Still, that leads to a critical step for the IT leadership if it's going to make the most of new graduates: Put those newbies around experienced IT pros who are true experts from whom they can learn. "If I think about skills, I think: Hire experts, and hire college grads, and you'll drive a very productive workforce," Mott said. "And oh, by the way, great people want to work around great people, so that helps on the retention side."

But new college grads often aren't the first choice for managers looking to hire. IT managers looking to fill a slot will start by making a wish list for a person with every precise skill they might need, "never mind that there might be only four of them on the planet," Mott said. His advice: "You have to force people to hire [new] college grads."

Couldn't make it to the InformationWeek 500 Conference? Join us for the InformationWeek 500 Virtual Event, featuring the best of the conference plus all-new material. It happens Oct. 2.

To find out more about Chris Murphy, please visit his page.

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