Hate to the bearer of bad news. If you think it’s tough attracting quality IT talent right now, just wait. A month. Six months. A year.
According to every indicator, after the worst recession since the Great Depression, IT recruiting is getting competitive. Real competitive. Already, we at Yoh are feeling the heat. The Yoh Index of Technology Wages, a regular temperature check of the IT employment market, experienced its highest increase in six years at year end 2013. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for information technology systems administrators are expected to grow 28 percent between now and 2020, twice the expected average growth rate for all occupations. A recent Dice survey on tech hiring trends for 2014 found that nearly three out of four respondents (73 percent) planned to hire more technology pros in the six months ahead. In addition, 24 percent of respondents indicated their additional hiring will be substantial, as compared to 19 percent who felt that way six months prior.
Don’t despair. Lots of it can be overcome simply by understanding the changing IT labor market and avoiding these six most common mistakes.
1. Refusing To Change With Competitive New Times.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a jobless recovery. 10.5 million Americans are out of work. Don’t believe the hype. While the world might have been your recruitment oyster for the last few years, the shell has drawn closed. Talent with the right skills—the skills that are going to propel growth initiatives such as cloud and big data—are difficult if not impossible to find. A recent McKinsey study says it all: “We project a need for 1.5 million additional managers and analysts in the United States who can ask the right questions and consume the results of the analysis of big data effectively." And even bread and butter talent is all but toast.
“Today, it’s nearly impossible to find a skilled Java developer in many parts of the country,” says Damon Stagliano, a Yoh manager in Philadelphia. “Three years ago, an $80,000 per year salary would have shaken the trees empty. This year, if you can find someone, you’re going to pay much more.” The corollary is clear: Understand the market; set your budget accordingly and work with workforce pros who can tap into non-obvious sources of talent to make them available to you.
2. Thinking of “Recruiting” Rather Than “Total Workforce Management System.”
Finding the right person is never a one-off search done in isolation. Instead, it needs to be a natural extension of all your total workforce management system, which includes building connections inside the appropriate talent communities long before you need to fill a single position.
It’s these very connections that often populate the first segments of your recruitment pipeline. Fail here and no one will ever trickle out at the other end. And this is often the most potent talent, professionals who may not be ready to move or who you might not even need quite yet. But they are there. The silent underbelly of tomorrow’s job market. A mass of human potential, unseen, untapped, and if played well, available only to you for your work upfront in building a process that leads to a result.
3. Failing To Position the Job
When candidates face multiple opportunities, it’s up to IT hiring managers to differentiate, separate, and clearly delineate their advantage. “Candidates are attracted to jobs that are going to move them forward in their career,” explains Ann Bonner, senior IT account manager at Yoh. “Jobs that involve a new technology, a forward-thinking project, the longevity of a project—all these factors will be attractive to the right candidate and help sell the position if it’s smartly positioned and communicated and not just taken for granted.”
It takes an opportunity that speaks to people’s passion to get people to move, as Bonner notes: “We’re having to work more closely with our hiring managers to help them be more creative in positioning the opportunity.” In part, that means highlighting an organization’s latest and greatest technology as an opportunity for learning and growth.
4. Failing To Be Realistic
Hiring managers often fail to confirm their assumptions about the budget, staffing levels, and timeline needed to complete a project. “Many times managers think they might need five people for a project, but in the end they’ll need 10 people,” says Bonner. “Or they think it’s a six-month project and it turns out to be nine.”
Talent is also hard to find for new skills, and it often isn’t local. “Looking for someone with a year’s experience with a technology that is only a year old is difficult,” says Stagliano. It pays to take the extra time to dig into your talent needs and develop a realistic list of the staffing you need. This saves time and budget in the end.
5. Working Scattershot in Your Outreach
In a tight labor market, it makes sense to think strategically about how you manage your outreach to potential candidates. This is especially true if you decide to work with an outside firm. Experienced IT recruitment managers know they need to work with a provider who understands the complete pipeline and the logistics of workforce management. Such firms can help you articulate an employment brand and surface that brand with your contacts in the talent community. This process is more than just announcing, “This job is open.”
“If companies took a more strategic approach, outside firms can take the time to conduct a thorough screening and vet candidates and do their background checks and reference checks and technical screens,” says Stagliano. “That way, the hiring manager ends up seeing the best candidates, not just the first available candidates.”
6. Ignoring the Value of Networking and PartnershipNo matter how good you are as a technologist, finding good people is a people skill, and that involves building a strong network of contacts that can connect you to the right talent. This can include your own personal network or you can leverage the networks of outside placement firms.
“I had a recent conversation with a VP who told me that early in his career he didn’t realize the importance of networking. The older he got, the more he realized that as a VP, his success was all about his relationships and who he could bring into the company,” comments Stagliano. “What vendors could he align with who could provide the services the firm needed? The more well-networked he was, the greater success he would have in bringing in people that he trusted in helping me accomplish our goals.”
“You want to look for people and providers that you can build a partnership with,” concludes Andria Erkers, senior account manager at Yoh. “It’s not just a transactional relationship, but someone who has subject matter expertise in various fields that can work as a trusted advisor on topics such as business transformation or agile development.”
The New Paradigm of IT Recruiting
Sorry, but recruiting IT pros won’t get any easier any time soon. For now, the geeks have inherited the earth. If you want your share of the top IT talent available, it’s going to require more focused, strategic approaches to connecting with talent. And eliminating these six mistakes is the first step in taking control of your IT talent needs.
Need top IT Talent yesterday? Yoh IT candidates roll out of bed with their A game on. Fill out the form on our Get Talent page to request additional information on our IT recruiting services. Or, if you are looking for a total workforce management system, tell us exactly what you need on our RPO services form.