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How To Get IT Recruitment Right

IT recruitment can be a tricky business, but how can you make sure you get the right talent first time round?

For years there has been talk of a global digital skills shortage that will make it difficult for organisations to attract the talent they need for important projects. Combined with budgetary constraints, this puts extra pressure on recruitment as companies don’t want to make expensive mistakes. 

Here, IT recruitment specialists Cathcart Associates offer some tips on how to get the right talent.

Before you hire

Above anything else, employers must be clear on what the job is that they are trying to find someone to fill! It might sound obvious, but as recruitment consultants we often find ourselves in a scenario where the client says “just another X please”, when it turns out after further investigation that in fact they want something slightly different.

In many circumstances, it’s only after many CVs have been reviewed and candidates interviewed that employers start to think about what they really want.

In this scenario, when a business is recruiting for their next IT role such a protracted and costly approach is needless and can be avoided by the employer asking themselves what are the REALLY essential skills they need their new recruit to bring to the role.

jobs employment staff skills © Filipe Frazao Shutterstock

Quite often we see a shopping list of the technical skills required for a position with no particular order of importance.

This usually puts off candidates who like to specialise in certain areas of technology, or those who may be overwhelmed by the formidable list of necessary skills and attributes apparently required for the role.

Furthermore, employers should ask themselves: What is more important, the person or the skills?

The answer will of course be both, but we would urge employers to carefully consider the question because we usually find that someone with the right attitude, who understands the business goals and is dedicated to working hard and achieving career success but who lacks the right technical skills will beat a candidate with a high skill set but who is not engaged in the position and/or the company.

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Maximise the benefit to your business

The attitude possessed by a candidate is the main attribute that will define their success within the company. Someone who understands just what their employer is trying to achieve, the tools that are available to them and who is driven to succeed will always find the best solutions.

Business-savvy candidates who understand how commerce works tend to fare much better, even in IT and digital driven roles, and as professional recruiters we always find ourselves recommending those candidates over their competitors.

In technical terms, there is little difference in the skill set required for a position in a startup as compared to a business that is scaling up, depending on the goals, products and services of the business.

However, when it comes to personality and approach, those candidates looking to work for a startup need to be more flexible with regards to the hours they are willing to work and more resilient in the face of the pressure or stress that accompanies the role. It helps if they demonstrate buy-in to the short-term objectives of the company and without a doubt they must have a ‘get-the-job-done’ attitude.

Employment, Jobs © Luna Vandoorne Shutterstock 2012

Attracting talent

Think about and then make sure you share why you are a good company to work for. Unfortunately a beer fridge and a pool table really doesn’t cut it anymore.

Do you have clear business objectives? Do you understand what differentiates your products and services from your competition? What are your long-term goals?

If you know all this, make sure the world knows it. Then think about how the job you are offering will be a career for someone rather than just a way to make a living. Why did the last few recruits join your company? Do you offer the opportunity for flexible working and working from home?

Offering this won’t really make you stand out anymore, but not offering it will! Most candidates working in technology these days don’t rank job security as high as those of previous generations. The chance to stand out, make your mark and be able to clearly see the results of your work are generally viewed as much more important, so make sure you highlight what you can offer in this regard.

Effective interviewing and finding the right fit

When it comes to conducting the interviews themselves, employers should ensure they focus on the individual. Pay attention to what they want to do. What drives them? Where do they want their career to go? How do they like to work?

Essentially, work out their motivators and drivers. If they match yours then you could be onto a winner.

From a technical perspective, we would recommend utilising general problem solving and aptitude assessments rather than specific technical tests.

Tests can be flawed, and we know most employers would rather have a sharp-thinking and capable problem solver who’s bought into the business than someone who has passed the test but given little illustration of what they want from, and what else they bring to, the role.

Gordon Kaye and Sam Wason, are co-founders and directors of Cathcart Associates