Hot Jobs: Head of IT HR

Job description: The head of IT HR handles the recruiting, screening and interviewing of job candidates for an IT department. Executives in this position need to report to the CIO while maintaining a relationship with human resources, says Andy Zaleta, partner and coleader of the technology practice in the Americas for executive search firm Battalia Winston International. Although this job requires a presence in both departments, heads of IT HR are "doomed to fail" if they straddle the line between IT and HR, says Zaleta. This person is ultimately responsible for handling IT's staffing needs and should maintain a focus in that realm, he says. Large companies that value employees who truly understand a firm's technology often hire for this position.

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Why you need one: Companies have become specialized in the types of technology they use and develop, says Zaleta. This specialization often requires new hires who can use or support an organization's key applications and IT systems. Traditional HR personnel may not recognize that a candidate's experience with a technology may not translate to their own organization, which may use different products. For instance, a candidate's past familiarity with SAP's business-intelligence software may not be relevant at a company that uses Oracle BI products.

Desired skills: Strong knowledge of IT. Undergraduate degree with technology or HR focus is a must. A head of IT HR is "not going to write code, but knows what makes someone successful in that function," says Zaleta. Good sales and communication skills are also key to help sell candidates on a company and its jobs.

How to find them: This is a burgeoning position, according to Zaleta, so finding a qualified candidate may prove challenging. Try regional IT professional organizations since people in certain fields tend to cluster geographically. For example, IT workers with financial services or retail experience tend to congregate in New York. Look also for candidates with less formal titles such as director of talent or head of talent acquisitions, especially at technology companies.

What to look for: Candidates must blend methodical, detail-oriented traits with innovative and creative skills. A person who is a total techie may lack the social skills that recruiting demands. However, a smooth personality without an IT background isn't the right match either, Zaleta says. A person in this job must also be comfortable with transitioning between two distinct roles.

Salary range: $75,000 to $150,000 plus bonus, depending on level

Elimination round: Ask a candidate how she would handle a job that needs to be sensitive to corporate politics. People who don't realize that they need to maintain equanimity and stay above the fray won't work out well.

Growing your own: Look for technologists on staff who understand the company's IT structure but who also have an outgoing personality that lends itself to sales and marketing. They'll need to learn about human resources, but those skills are easier to teach than IT.

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