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IT Sourcing: How to Attract, Evaluate and Retain Top Talent

In today’s competitive hiring environment, the ability to draw the best and brightest individuals to the company can give any organization a significant competitive advantage.

Finding talented individuals across all job functions capable of making a positive impact from day one is difficult enough; yet, sourcing for IT candidates is perhaps the most challenging area to recruit.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among technology professionals was 3.3 percent in the last quarter of 2012, compared to the overall unemployment rate of 7.8 for the same period. 

Mark Newman, CEO of HireVue, with so many talented IT professionals already employed, finding qualified individuals to fill open positions can be particularly difficult. Not only must the company find individuals who have the technological know-how to be successful, but it must also identify those who show the potential to fit in well with the company.

Newman argues current methods organizations commonly use to find IT talent don’t always ensure the best candidates are selected. Without a focused approach to finding promising individuals, and an objective method for assessing their technical skills, the company will likely let the best candidates fall through the cracks.

Moreover, typical recruiting methods are time intensive for both the company and candidate. Passive candidates, who are not actively looking for opportunities, have even less time or patience for outdated recruiting and interviewing tactics.

Newman says “fortunately, there’s a range of new solutions companies can leverage to enhance the way they connect both active and passive candidates. This allows them to engage with IT talent like never before, assess their skills and keep them engaged and bring about increased opportunities to fill their talent pool and vacant IT positions.”

Here are Newman’s thoughts on this vital HR function:

The Keys to Attracting Talent: Technical professionals are in constant high demand, and the low unemployment rate makes finding candidates, particularly passive ones, even more complicated. Therefore, companies must differentiate themselves to show that they can offer candidates a unique, challenging and rewarding work environment. Holding a “hackathon,” in which the company calls on candidates to solve a particular technical problem or challenge, will position the company as a fun and creative place to work and allow recruiters to gauge participants’ technical prowess. In addition, having such events can enhance a company’s reputation, as each event will create buzz and garner greater attention.

Social media is also a valuable tool in garnering attention for the company and its jobs, and in turn, attracting a high level of IT talent. In addition to posting jobs and building connections with select individuals, the depth and breadth of social networks enable companies to expand their reach exponentially, as individuals can easily share job ads with their friends and connections.

With Facebook’s recently enhanced search feature, recruiters can more easily find talent by searching for particular skills and work history to find and target candidates with the right background. Facebook can also be used to find candidates in the employer’s immediate area, enabling the company to find qualified individuals in close proximity. Taking it a step further, there a few available solutions that monitor candidates’ social media activity to predict when particular individuals are looking to leave their current positions. This way, employers can target IT talent with the right qualifications when they are mostly like to consider a new role.

Looking Beyond the Resume: Once the company identifies and attracts talent, the next challenge is to evaluate them to be sure candidates have the skills listed on their resume or social media profiles and will be able to perform their job responsibilities. Yet, this can be difficult if recruiters and hiring managers don’t have strong coding and software knowledge themselves. Typically, they would have to rely on a technical manager or engineer to screen candidates for them, which leads to more time and resources being needed for the interview stage. Considering the fact that not all candidates will have the necessary qualifications, having high-level team members involved in the recruiting and interview process is frustrating and costs valuable time in productivity and product delivery, which ultimately has a negative impact on sales.

A better, and more objective strategy for gauging candidates’ technical abilities is to administer pre-employment testing and challenges to gain further insight into their qualifications. Existing assessment solutions offer such testing in a variety of programming languages and automatically score their results, eliminating this burden from recruiters. When such testing is used in conjunction with a digital interviewing solution, candidates can record video of themselves explaining how they arrived at their solutions, providing the company with additional insight into their thought process and problem-solving techniques.

Still, a candidate’s coding skills shouldn’t be the only reason they are hired. The company also needs to ensure it brings on talented individuals who also show potential to be a good fit for its unique corporate culture. Traditional job-fit assessments can then be used to determine if a candidate’s personality, temperament and values align with those of the company.

Keeping Talent Engaged: After attracting, evaluating and hiring IT talent, the next challenge – and most important one – is keeping them engaged so they remain with the company. By fostering a culture of innovation, and actively soliciting ideas from all employees, the company can benefit from its team’s creativity and ensure it constantly improves operations. At the same, employees will appreciate that the company listens to them and welcomes their ideas. To further spur creativity, the company can hold hackathons for its current staff, which also works to keep employees engaged and committed to coming up with new ideas that benefit the entire company.

Another key to retaining the best IT talent is to allow flexibility in terms of working remotely. As some employees may be more productive working from home, without the typical distractions of an office environment, enabling them the freedom to choose where – and even when – they work can further keep IT staff engaged.

Building a Pipeline of IT Talent: With qualified IT candidates in such high demand for a low number of open positions, sourcing talented individuals remains a challenge. No longer can companies simply post ads on job boards and wait to be found, and then just consider talent based on what they put on their resumes. Instead, recruiters and hiring managers can benefit from the growing power of social networking in finding candidates with the required skills and personality that will make them successful.

When passive and active candidates alike see that their friends or former colleagues in the IT field are working for a fun and challenging company, they will likely want to join them.  By leveraging its current employees’ networks and being more proactive in identifying and targeting such individuals, the company will be better positioned to attract top IT talent.

Companies are embracing new technologies that facilitate the way they assess the skills that candidates can bring to the organization ensuring its ability to create a strong and high performing team of talented IT professionals who can preserve the company competitive and innovative culture.

© 2018, Information Strategies, Inc.
P.O. Box 315, Ridgefield, NJ 07657