by Rona Borre

How to Bridge the Gap Between HR and IT

Mar 21, 20143 mins
CareersCIOEnterprise Applications

A poor IT-HR relationship can lead to bad IT hires. IT managers need to provide HR with sharp questions about applicants' technical skills. And HR pros need to do their homework about IT.

Ask your HR director to hire five new IT analysts skilled in hypervisor and server virtualization infrastructure and you’ll likely get a quizzical look back. The fact is that technology in the workplace is advancing too fast for HR professionals (and really any non-IT personnel) to keep up with.

This widening knowledge gap between IT professionals and the HR managers who are tasked with filling positions causes real problems in hiring the right workers. The problem occurs most frequently when IT managers need to find an employee that has a very specific set of IT skills.

While HR professionals can find broadly qualified technologists and network administrators, highly specialized skills such as cloud computing, DevOps software development, NoSQL databases and big-data analytics are often beyond HR’s ability to evaluate.

Left unmanaged, HR’s misunderstanding of new technology concepts and keywords can result in poor hires and unmet expectations.

Ask the Right Questions

To bridge the knowledge gap between IT professionals and hiring managers, the first step should be developing a partnership between HR and the IT hiring manager. The IT hiring manager should develop a set of questions for each technology discipline the company is seeking. IT can provide qualifying questions for candidates seeking cloud computing jobs, for example, or virtualization jobs.

HR can then meet IT halfway by augmenting this slate of questions with its own queries that will reveal a candidate’s nontechnical competencies, such as their communication skills or whether they are a cultural match.

The second step should be for HR professionals to work to understand the scope of the new IT project or initiative. That way, rather than just scanning resumes for keywords and acronyms, the recruiter can look for similarities in project responsibilities that will yield a closer talent match by identifying professionals who have already accomplished goals similar to the ones in the job description.

Someone with extensive database experience would be an attractive prospect for a project that will include a great deal of back-end work, for example. This approach will help minimize time wasted on evaluating candidates who claim to have specialized skills and certifications but haven’t worked on actual projects that use the technology.

Finally, HR professionals have to do their part to keep abreast of the latest IT developments. Vendor websites, YouTube and even Wikipedia provide a wealth of resources for learning about new technologies and how they’re used in the enterprise.

HR should also communicate with the IT team regularly. Even a monthly meeting will help keep the HR team up-to-date on what kind of projects the company is working on and what IT skills those projects require. And knowing which previous hires have excelled–and which hires have fared poorly–will help HR fine-tune its ability to identify successful candidates.

The knowledge gap between HR managers and IT professionals will continue to grow as today’s technologies become more complex. And as these technologies become a competitive differentiator for companies, closing this gap and finding the right technical talent is more urgent than ever.

Closer cooperation between HR and IT will yield more on-target job candidates, and those candidates will also notice your company’s dedication to the latest technological advances, making it more likely that you’ll lure top talent.

Rona Borre is CEO and founder of IT hiring and recruiting firm Instant Technology.

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