'Grey beards' preferred in senior IT recruitment

Yesterday I had a chat with Jason Addicott, an associate director for the IT division of recruitment firm Robert Walters, about the trends they’ve observed in the senior IT ranks over the past few months.
According to Addicott, permanent recruitment increased significantly in the third quarter of 2010, whereas most placements were around contract and interim work earlier in the year. 
As the number of permanent vacancies increase, the recruiter added that many companies looking for an IT leader have specifically requested for female candidates, as well as applicants from ‘diverse backgrounds’ in terms of ethnicity and sexual orientation.
On the other hand, Addicott did not notice any young CIOs coming through. He said that companies hiring for that position prefer the so-called ‘grey beards’ – people who have been working in corporate IT for over a decade and have the kudos and experience to take on senior roles – instead of fresh talent. 
According to the consultant, this is due to the fact that the “technology toolkit” – the skills one needs to be able to make smart decisions around the management of IT itself – is less important than the capacity to make tough decisions such as downsizing teams and bringing focus back to projects that were previously mothballed due to the downturn. 
Most companies agree that the drive to do more for less, shrink IT teams and become more aligned with business objectives is here to stay. Of course, seasoned managers are [in principle] better equipped to meet these objectives due to their years of experience, but how will the new generation of leaders be allowed to progress through the IT ranks if the trend described above continues? 

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