IT-focused HR pros offer three tips for finding tech talent in a tight market:
1. Build relationships in the marketplace. Join professional organizations and attend events. The best IT workers aren't necessarily the ones who are actively looking for work, so you have to seek them out, says Scott Hajer, a recruiting manager at Pariveda Solutions.
2. Early in the hiring process, spend time articulating the projects and challenges you want the new employee to tackle. "IT people love a challenge, and they want to walk in the door and have an understanding of the type of projects they're going to be working on," says Bryan Banks, an associate manager of talent acquisition at Aflac. "If you can paint that picture, you set up the candidate for success."
3. Don't just ask candidates what they did in their previous jobs; find out how and why they did what they did to get a better sense of their skills, motivation and temperament. "To get the right people in place, try to focus less on the buzzwords on the resume, and more on who you are hiring," says Julie Magliozzi, IT talent acquisition specialist at Philips North America.
Companies that are too small to justify employing a full-time IT hiring specialist can still benefit by cultivating close relationships between their IT managers and third-party recruiters, says Claire Schooley, an analyst at Forrester Research.
"I've worked with companies where the outsourcers were almost like employees because they knew the company so well," says Schooley. "Companies that need very, very specialized IT people make sure the recruiters really talk with the managers and get inside their heads and make sure they understand what they need."
Schooley says many companies don't foster those kinds of relationships -- with either in-house recruiters or outside headhunters. "The recruiting people see the job description and that's all they see, and they don't understand what the IT manager wants," she observes. "But the closer that relationship, the better the end product is."
At Publix Super Markets in Lakeland, Fla., fostering a good relationship between recruiters and IT professionals is a priority. The retailer's tech staffing and training function resides within the IT group. IT workforce manager Melanie McClellan, who reports to the director of IT finance, has a staff of three people who work with tech managers on recruiting, hiring and training for the IT team of 1,050.
"We build very strong relationships with our hiring managers, so we get to a place where we can anticipate their needs. We can align our efforts with their strategic goals, their unique microcultures," says IT recruiter Rhonda Burke, who reports to McClellan.
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