In my last blog entry, "IT Hiring: Creative Ways to Find the Best Employees," I suggested a few ways IT hiring managers could find the exceptional workers they need. I also alluded to the many challenges, idiosyncrasies and paradoxes that make IT hiring so hard.\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\n\tThe blog elicited one response in particular, from a real estate CIO, that I want to share. In an email to me, the CIO articulated what he believes makes IT hiring so difficult. He wrote:\u00a0\n\t\n\t\t\u2026it's been my experience that people [in a position to hire] focus on the wrong things and therefore are missing great talent. They don't know what they need AND they don\u2019t know how to assess talent.\u00a0\n\t\n\t\tPeople in the "hiring industrial complex" seem to constantly get hung up on the same things: Specific industry experience and skills that just don't matter. In 25 years of IT I have yet to find how industry experience has truly made a difference. The main things to look for [in prospective employees] are being a good analyst, solving problems (all the way through), and having a penchant for being constantly unsatisfied.\u00a0\n\n\tThis reader's point is two-fold: 1) that hiring managers overemphasize criteria that, in his opinion, ultimately do not matter, and 2) that in the process of overemphasizing factors like industry experience and specific skills, they weed out potentially great talent. These ideas are worth noting.\u00a0\n\tThe other aspect of hiring that this CIO argues is so critical to finding exceptional employees is having a clear picture of what you need from the position you're trying to fill, both now and in the future. In his words\u2026\u00a0\n\t\n\t\tOne of the traps is hiring for today versus the future\u2014for both the person and the organization. The hiring should be for what a person may become or contribute toward in a few years. The job to fill today\u2014while an important need\u2014is not the ultimate job that you really want someone to do. At least that's the way I approach it, even if I don't know what that future job is. I just want good talent\u2014and figure out how to take advantage of it.\u00a0\n\n\tI have my own take on the importance of zeroing in on what you need from the position you're trying to fill. By "what you need from the position you're trying to fill," I mean the short- and long-term goals you as a manager are responsible for achieving, as well as the short- and long-term business goals your employer is trying to achieve. Hiring managers need to home in one those goals, then consider how the opportunity to bring someone on board will help them achieve those goals. From there, they can identify more precisely what they need, write a more accurate job description for the position, and hopefully establish criteria that will help them identify, rather than filter out, the people they need.\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\n\tWhat's your take on what makes hiring so difficult? Do you think hiring managers focus on the wrong qualifications, and in the process miss out on candidates who could be exceptional employees?