How to Work With IT Recruiters to Find Top Tech Talent

Searching for the best IT talent can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack, but using a headhunter can help swing the odds in your favor. Learn what it takes to get the most out of this symbiotic relationship.

Tue, March 19, 2013

CIO — The tech job market--especially within certain areas such as big data, application development and cloud computing--is a competitive environment.

As more companies get on the bandwagon of these technologies and as the pool of talent gets smaller, many experts warn of a shortage of IT talent and skills in the pipeline. Companies are wondering where and how to acquire the top tech talent. Working With IT Recruiters

If you're willing to lay out the money, partnering with an IT recruiter could be the answer to your problem. Most experts agree that the biggest drawback of using an IT recruiter is the cost. A standard contingency search is typically between 15-30 percent of the annual pay for the position you're filling. There are less expensive routes but buyers beware. "You get what you pay for," says Rob Byron, principal consultant of IT search group at WinterWyman.

To help make the tough decision of whether or not to use a search firm to find your next employee, talked to both hiring managers and recruiters to get the facts on how employers can get the most out of an IT recruiter relationship.

Why Would I Want to Use an IT Recruiter?

The first question to ask, of course, is "Why? Maybe you're a smaller company that doesn't have time or the HR resources to hunt for new talent or maybe you're filling a mission critical position like CIO or vice president and time is of the essence. In either case, the top talent isn't necessarily the persons you'll find on job boards or through online applications. Often times the best candidates are already hard at work somewhere and not looking for a new position.

Two years ago when TrainSignal, a Chicago-based company that makes computer training for IT professionals had to make some decisions, CEO and founder Scott Skinger wanted to transition from being a content provider that shipped DVDs to a digital media or SaaS provider. The senior guys at TrainSignal knew they needed a great CTO and turned to an IT recruiter.

They knew they wanted someone who had been there and done that before. With that in mind, they started working with a recruiter and began to look at the local tech job market to identify individuals who they felt fit the bill.

"You have to put in the time to find that great CTO, of course--someone who is super-technical but also fits into the company culture. That's something we put a lot of emphasis on at TrainSignal. You can't skimp on either the amount of money you have to pay or amount of time it takes to find the right person," says Skinger.

"After we realized that we needed someone with heavy development skills and experience, we looked hard at people in the Chicago tech community to see who is doing this, as well as who has done this. We took the approach of trying to find someone who wasn't actively looking for another job. With how hot IT and tech is right now, people who are really good are probably not actively seeking a job or looking on," says Iman Jalali, president of TrainSignal.

So how do you reach those individuals? "In today's world of social media, Monster, CareerBuilder or Dice you can find those active candidates out there and start the search yourself. The real advantage of a good solid search firm, however, is that you're identifying those passive candidates," says Byron.

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