How to attract top IT talent - and avoid recruitment headaches!

06 May 2017

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recruitment headache

Following on from my previous blog, I wanted to consider Be-IT’s perspective on the job market and highlight the challenges currently experienced by hiring managers and HR in key areas of IT recruitment. 

Our recent salary survey noted that the number of people leaving their current employers had fallen by 17% year on year.  With that in mind, does this mean that line managers can breath a sigh of relief that it’s business as usual and rejoice that there’s no need to spend time going through a rigorous recruitment process?  In a recent technology survey for Scotland, 66% of businesses expect employment to increase.  This figure is down from 83% in 2015; however this is still a significant number and will also now be affected by the decrease in the number of people looking to change employers.  All of which means that two-thirds of those managing an IT team will have a potential recruitment headache at some point this year.  

How might these IT managers avoid such a headache?  More specifically, what can you do to attract the top talent to your team and make sure that your days are focused more on the job at hand than worrying about the job(s) you need filled?

Firstly, consider the message you want your target audience to hear/see.  Write a job description for the ideal candidate and be conscious how the target audience might respond to it.  If you ask any candidate you will find they all have a common complaint about job descriptions:  either they are generic, written by another department and with insufficient tech information, or they are asking for the sun the moon and the stars, yet still not entirely clear on the key skills and experience needed to do the job.   

When writing the job description consider the personal/psychological motives of the candidate.  Ask yourself, why did I join?  What continues to motivate me in my role?  Why do I enjoy getting up and coming into work?   Answers to questions like these can then be highlighted in a well-crafted advert which genuinely allows potential candidates correctly to know whether this is the right role for them.  They will truly understand the key benefits, the requirements of working for the team, the organisation and the technical challenges involved.   All of which means you will be speaking to people more likely to match your team’s ambitions and aligned to your professional and personal requirements. 

Not only would we recommend considering how the job advert will engage your audience, we’d also recommend your company’s website as an excellent channel to educate candidates by marketing your business in an intelligent, positive manner.   Ensuring consistency of message and working hard to get the job and person spec right first time make a huge difference in the process.  It’s something that can be easily overlooked when your immediate thought it to get the job advertised and candidates across the door.   Well-constructed advertising and web copy will highlight to any individual the precise work they will be doing, the environment and team they will be working in and the tools and technology they will have at their disposal. 

Videos are becoming more widely used to promote and advertise why your company is a great place to work and they allow candidates to get a feel for your firm before they get to interview.  It’s not surprising that Mark Zuckerberg has declared that 2017 is the year of video for Facebook as it’s consistently shown to increase engagement in ways that mere words (important as they are) cannot. 

As technology continues to evolve so does the way we attract great talent.  The days when the opening line at an interview was ”tell me why you want to work here” are going and now you’re far more likely to be told, “let me tell you what we are doing here and what you will be involved in”.  Some 74% of businesses in Scotland are now sourcing graduates directly to meet their IT needs, and, with less reliance on the European market due to Brexit-related uncertainty, it’s now even more important than ever to have as many options available as possible to attract the right talent via a message that resonates with the right people in the right marketplace.    

How you market the role and the company is even more important when you are recruiting in a restricted, small market; for example for a Java developer with Scala experience or someone with a Qlikview development background.   In these hard-to-fill markets, getting your message right first time is imperative.   In these circumstances, you should also review the current resources within the team to see if this helps - do you have enough experience within the team to hire someone who meets only, say, 75% of your spec, but who an experienced member of your team could then train up?  It might actually be cheaper and better to hire someone less experienced and then bring their skill set up to the required level rather than hold out for several months waiting for the right candidate to apply for your role. 

Of course you should also build a relationship with a recruiter who understands and will intelligently promote your vacancy to the market. Of course I’m going to say this as I work for an agency; however, I firmly believe that partnering with a professional IT recruitment company that develops an in-depth understanding of your organisation and its proposition to candidates will not only complement your recruitment process but will help you find more passive candidates than you can do on your own.   A good agency will not send you copious CVs from people who don’t fit your personal and professional profiles.  Good agencies offer numerous tools such as candidate screening, creating interactive CVs and candidate attraction packs, branded advertising and even bespoke recruitment videos which further deepen candidates’ knowledge of your firm and your jobs.  Crucially, they should not constantly contact you unless they need to, thus allowing you to get on with your day job.

Naturally, there are lots of other ways to promote your team and your company and you may already be doing many of them. However, we know that many hiring managers don’t have the time for this.  I would respectfully suggest that they need to make the time.  We know that the firms who are currently securing the best talent are already providing clear, informative recruitment marketing messages that make them the “go to” companies to work for in Scotland.  There are some large, household name tech companies in central Scotland whose perks, benefits and outstanding technology are a byword in the marketplace.  If you haven’t the internal resources to match them then you certainly do need to work with an agency that understands the IT market and the marketing options available.   I will cover more of these options in future blogs.

Graeme Harper, Be-IT Resourcing

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