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IT staffing isn’t all about technology

Last month Mike Rollings of Gartner released some important IT staffing research titled “Job Postings – Hiring for IT’s Past.” If you’re involved in IT staffing, and especially if you’re still relying on online job postings, I recommend you read the findings. Afterwards you should ask yourself two questions: Who in the company is responsible for writing your IT job postings? And have you read any of them lately?

The bottom line from the research (spoiler alert) is that most of the job postings that Rollings and his team reviewed included plenty of technical skill requirements but no non-technical, problem-solving, collaborative, or other soft skills. In other words, most postings didn’t give any indication of the company culture, reasons why someone would want to work there, or any impression that soft skills are valued by the company.

What troubles me more than the job postings themselves, which are bad enough, is the thinking (or lack thereof) behind the postings. These postings perpetuate the notion that if you just put enough people on a project, somehow it will get done. While there are some heads-down coding and other individual contributions that must be completed, this is not the 1990s when you had only one platform, no mobile devices, and a single version that came out annually. We need thinkers in IT.

So before you write your next job posting (or even your next job description, which is where many of the postings come from), here are three things to think about.

  1. Put the “it” before the technology. What is it about your company that makes it tick? What does it take to be successful at your company? Describe your culture and the things that define who you are and where you are going as an organization. Tell job seekers how much they will have to communicate, collaborate, and innovate, and make sure they can easily see how much those skills mean to your company.

  2. Think about tomorrow’s leaders, not just about filling one position. IT is about technology, but it is also about leadership, innovation, strategy, and collaboration. IT staffing is about building a talent pipeline. The more people you have on your team that can lead projects or take risks when necessary, the better your chances of finding and developing leaders for your next project or company expansion. This helps on many fronts, including retention. When you hire someone with limited ability to grow within your company, you limit the growth potential of your company as well.

  3. Think about the person who already has a job. Chances are the people that you want to fill your in-demand job positions already have jobs. Would you leave your current job to go to another company just to do the same thing? There has to be a compelling reason for job seekers to even take the time to read your posting or talk to you about your open position. A long list of skill requirements isn’t going to do it.

Lastly, in addition to job postings, social media offers another avenue by which to advertise your open positions and expand your IT staffing reach. A coordinated effort that is consistent with your employment brand (or the one you are trying to build) can be a powerful, one-two punch for finding IT professionals. Our eBook, “5 Key Steps to Create a Social Media Recruiting Strategy,” can help get you started.

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