IT Staffing: 5 Tips for Finding Quality Candidates
According to a recent report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the Computer and Information Technology industries is projected to grow by 12.5 percent over the next 10 years. Still, finding, hiring and retaining top software development talent is one of the biggest challenges facing the IT staffing industry. Quality candidates are tough to find, especially when they’re needed to perform specialized tasks. Based on our experience, the following 5 tips will help you to find and retain these elusive, high-quality employees.
- Create accurate, specific job descriptions by understanding the position’s most critical skills and qualities.
Timlin has written and reviewed thousands of resumes, and we’ve worked with more than a few customers who needed to recruit niche talent. Unfortunately, we’ve often seen clients draft job descriptions (JDs) that actually limit the talent they find. In order to attract the best technical candidates, you need a job description that accurately depicts the key qualities for success.
This does not mean you should solely solicit individuals with 12+ years of .NET experience or decades-long IT backgrounds. In fact, the sharp engineer with a few years of solid experience is often a better hire. To keep these candidates in the running, make sure your JD focuses more on key traits and qualitative experiences, rather than arbitrary numbers.
- Network, network, network! To find top technical talent in today’s market, it’s not enough to use old fashioned job boards, online posts and advertisements. Those media can still be useful for IT staffing, but it’s far more important for your executives, recruiters, managers and technical teams to continuously network. You’re selling yourself to prospects just as much as they’re selling themselves to you, and you need to effectively hype your job openings, culture and the benefits of a long-term career at your company.
What’s more, you need to network whether you have open positions or not. You never know when an important player is going to leave, and growth periods always lead to the creation of new, critical positions. To keep quality candidates flowing through your doors, you need to create a consistent buzz about working for your organization.
- During interviews, look for a balance between technical expertise, people skills and business acumen. Whether we’re interviewing for a customer-facing or internal development role, we balance our interviews between technical skills and “soft” skills – the skills needed to effectively communicate, adapt and solve problems in a team setting.
In assessing the technical skillset, it’s important to engage third-party resources who can put a candidate through a solid screening process. Credentials and experience are important, of course, but we want to observe a candidate’s software skills firsthand. HR teams rarely understand technology well enough to do such a high-level screen.
As for the soft skills, it’s likewise important to “screen” a candidate with probing questions and complex scenarios. There’s rarely one right way to handle a situation, but a candidate’s thought processes and communication skills within an interview can indicate how they’ll perform on your team.
- Sell the candidate on the job and culture. A solid company culture is critical to attracting the type of talent you want to stick around for the long haul. And, while casual Fridays and company outings can help to foster a great culture, they’re not enough. Top technical performers want to work with other talented individuals, and they want to be able to creatively address new challenges on an ongoing basis. Simply put, the best candidates have options, and you need to let them know why working for your company is in their best interests.
- Use an agile hiring process. During a typical hiring process, senior management approves a new requisition based on company growth or the need to replace an existing employee. A hiring manager or HR professional writes a job description, and the recruiting process begins.
However, the hiring manager can modify that description once candidates begin to apply. These modifications may be minor, but in some cases an applicant will impress upon the manager the need to think differently about the role they’re trying to fill. A well-qualified candidate that doesn’t quite match the original JD may even be a great fit for a new position – one that combines two or more unfilled roles.
Overall, this type of fluid hiring process is a positive for companies with niche IT staffing needs. It may frustrate your HR team, but they need to understand that everything is subject to change; that the IT industry moves quickly; and that your hiring process must be agile enough to adapt.
Hopefully these tips will help as you seek new IT personnel for your organization. To gain a leg up on the competition – and to ensure you attract top-quality candidates – consider us for your IT staffing needs.
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