Recruiting for IT success, by SearchBI’s Chris Boyle

As hundreds of thousands of businesses ramp up their recruitment in the face of continuing economic growth, Chris Boyle, senior consultant at SearchBI, offers his tips for successful IT recruitment in the tricky world of technology talent.

It’s critical from a leadership perspective – as firms gear-up their investments in technology to drive growth – that you to start to think strategically about recruitment to secure your future skills needs. After all, recruiting for IT can be a minefield for the unwary and unprepared, so it requires careful thought and a clear vision to steer a successful course.

Relevant job description

Start by losing the generic job specification and ensure that the new one is relevant to your business needs and specific to the role in question. Ensure the targets that need to be achieved by employing this new person are promoted through the specification, and be realistic about what is essential and what is desirable – emphasise the ‘musts’ and be clear about the ‘wants’. You’re unlikely to find an IT candidate who ticks every single box, so remember which skills are a prerequisite from the start and those that can be developed over time.


Pose the question

What are the base IT skills you require? Does the applicant possess written and verbal communication skills? Are they a team player? Is it about the business or them? They need to be both motivated and driven; do they really want your job or just any job? Do not change your mind about what you’re looking for in a candidate during the interview but do take time to review your processes to ensure you do not make any rash decisions.


Fair and consistent

You should use the same interview process for each applicant. This might include telephone screening, psychometric test, first interview, second interview, and include a related test for that role – a technology presentation on how BI can deliver benefits, for instance. An informal first interview should start the process and filter the applicants down before a second, more formal interview to see how the applicant reacts under pressure.


Don’t forget references

During each interview, ask plenty of competency-based questions. What has the applicant achieved in their current role? What do they consider to be their career highlights so far? Establish their weaknesses and what they have done to overcome these. Before making an appointment, secure a minimum of two written references. One must be the last and most recent employer. Ask for character references if the role involves a lot of trust. Try to gain a full understanding of that person; will they fit in with the team and can they fulfil the role in the long term? What are their interests outside the world of work?


Don’t delay, act today

Do not be put off making decisions to see what else is on the market, or wait for budget sign off before making an offer.  With demand high and a dearth of quality people, if you feel someone fits the bill then you will have to move quickly to secure the right skills. The mantra is to be prepared: moving quickly can be defined as shorter/fewer interview processes (but still thorough and efficient), having budgets signed-off, and appreciating the short supply of talent in the candidate pool.


The outsourcing option?

Recruiting can be a difficult and time consuming process at the best of times but finding the right people for the right roles in the dynamic IT world requires a deft touch and deep understanding. So it may pay to work with a specialist recruitment firm and build a strong relationship with them. You will need to understand the current recruitment market and source advice from the human resource departments within businesses in your network if necessary.