Over the past few years I've heard insurers lament the lack of IT talent. Well, things are looking up. If some of the most recent studies and surveys are right, the talent pool for insurers to fish from is filling up.

Staffing firm Robert Half Technology reported that 17 percent of the 1,400 CIOs it surveyed plan to bring on more IT staff in the first quarter of 2013, and only 8 percent are planning staffing cuts. The 9 percent net difference between growth and cutbacks is 6 percent more than the IT hiring projections made by CIOs during the final quarter of 2012, according to the survey. Those numbers still may seem low, but the growth is a good sign.

Another good sign for insurers: There may be less competition with other industries when it comes to finding talent. The health care and financial services job market are among the few markets showing slight IT job growth. In 2012, health care saw 2.49-percent growth, and finance and insurance saw 1.14-percent growth, according to Janco Associates. The management consulting firm contends that health care is one area where IT pros can go with the flow and find job opportunities. The implementation of Electronic Patient Records is one of the driving forces of the increased opportunities in this area.

You can afford to be picky, but right now is the time to act. You can search for the perfect IT pros. And being picky may be what's necessary to remain competitive. The need for emerging-technology experts has never been greater. Just think about what's currently at the top of insurance CIO priority lists: mobile, big data and telematics. CIOs are looking for particular sets of skills to meet and anticipate the shifting demands of mobile-enabled customers, both internal and external, and implementing processes that enable them to use their own personal devices, according to Janco. By 2015, Gartner says, 4.4 million jobs will be created to support big data.

I spoke with a mid-size P&C insurance CIO recently on this particular topic, and he said he searches for the technology professional, not the insurance professional. You need to find someone excited by new technology, he says, and that someone may be from outside the industry, or a college graduate who has experience with gamification, or other areas making their way into insurance. You can teach insurance, but you can't teach technology acumen. And the good news is they're out there. Next on the to-do: Recruiting them. Do you have some recruiting wisdom to share? Join our LinkedIn group and tell us.

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