It’s a good – no, make that great – time to become an IT recruiter. With an escalating tech talent war, businesses are scrambling to find recruiters to fill vacant positions, says Sara Ferraioli, partner and general manager at WinterWyman, a Boston-based recruitment and contract staffing firm.
Finding the Talent to Find Talent
“Recruiters are in really high demand right now,” says Ferraioli. “Companies are looking to hire more as their own businesses grow, but in the midst of this IT talent war, finding talent to find talent is increasingly difficult,” she says.
The recruiter profession is unique in that there’s no formal schooling or degree, says Ferraioli. Most recruiters land in the position after performing HR roles or administrative support functions for recruiters and finding they have the drive and skills to attract talent themselves.
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“Many times, we’ll be looking at a candidate for a completely different role, but they have that ‘certain something’ that might make them a great recruiter, so we switch our tactics and try to hire them internally. To be a recruiter is a lot like being a salesperson; you have to be high-energy, you have to be able to multi-task, shift gears often and you also have to have likability – you’re the face of the company when you’re presenting your opportunities to candidates, so you have to be likeable,” she says. In addition, she says, you must also have an internal drive to succeed, be self-motivated and willing to be flexible.
IT Recruiters in High Demand
But finding IT recruiters adds another layer of complexity, says Ferraioli, and firms like WinterWyman must get just as creative as the businesses they serve when hiring to make sure they’re attracting the right talent, themselves.
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“Technical recruiters are especially in high demand. We are seeing a huge need everywhere, but it gets that much harder when we’re talking about IT, because the market is so tight right now,” Ferraioli says.
“Just like businesses who are trying to hire for IT roles, we’re having to find creative ways to get folks interested – whether that means higher pay, offering them flexible work hours, the ability to work from home, or other perks to get them to come join us instead of going elsewhere,” she says.
A June 2014 hiring survey from Dice.com highlights the challenges faced by businesses looking to fill vacant or newly created IT positions, as well as the shortage of skilled recruiters to assist in a talent search. While the unemployment rate in the IT space is at a historically low 2.8 percent, candidates seem to be waiting to find the perfect job with the ‘right’ pay level, and that can make a recruiter’s job difficult.
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Of the more than 700 hiring managers and recruiters surveyed by Dice.com, 70 percent intend to hire more IT pros in the second half of 2014, but 32 percent of those surveyed said tech candidates are rejecting offers, with the majority (61 percent) citing salary as the reason offers were rejected.
“Employers have been dealing with a tight recruiting market for about the last four years,” says Dice.com president Shravan Goli. “However, right now, they have to ‘wake up’ to the new reality and be willing to make better, more competitive offers, or risk losing out on talent,” he says.
Can’t Find IT Talent? Who You Gonna Call?
When businesses can’t find the right candidates to meet their needs, it can create bottlenecks and headaches for internal hiring managers and HR departments as they struggle to fill vacant or new roles, says Ferraioli.
“What’s happening is there are so many requests and requirements, positions to fill, that they can’t do it all internally,” Ferraioli says. “It becomes a bottleneck of open positions and then it gets further jammed up by the lack of people to vet candidates and hire folks to fill those roles. So, what we see, then is that less specialized folks, like HR generalists and internal hiring managers are under additional pressure to do the job that should be done by recruiters,” she says.
Having experienced, skilled recruiters can be a major boon to hiring companies, but finding these professionals can be just as difficult, says Ferraioli, because they’re often already at full capacity and aren’t necessarily looking for a new position.
Recruiter Shortage Exacerbates IT Talent Shortage
“A talented recruiter is already working, and they’re always in very high demand,” she says. “They may already have numerous jobs, contracts, positions to fill, so trying to lure them to work for your organization is just going to be more difficult – they aren’t lacking in opportunities right now,” Ferraioli says.
One way to address the recruiter shortage is to embrace flexibility, says Ferraioli, especially when considering recruiter candidates who might be reentering the workforce, or who are newer entries to the workforce. Many of these folks are tech-savvy, skilled, experienced and are willing to work at a lower rate than their peers, she says, and that can be an advantage.
“We work hard to educate our clients on why it’s a great idea to work with someone who, for instance, is reentering the workforce after an absence,” Ferraioli says. “Maybe this recruiter took time off to raise their family, or had an illness, or another reason – but they have the skills, they have the experience and they’re just as effective; and you won’t have to pay them an exorbitant rate.”