by Meridith Levinson

IT Hiring: Creative Ways to Find the Best Employees

Dec 09, 20113 mins
IT JobsIT LeadershipIT Skills

IT leaders seeking to hire "the best and the brightest" need to employ much more aggressive, creative and progressive recruiting practices than simply posting job ads online.

As I report stories on the IT job market for 2012 and talk with staffing industry executives, the refrain I repeatedly hear from them is: “Companies are having a really hard time finding the qualified IT talent they need.”

I do get tired of hearing how hard it is to find good IT professionals, but I understand where staffing representatives and IT hiring managers are coming from. There are so many reasons why IT hiring is difficult that I can’t even begin to list them. But the fundamental reason why it’s so hard is that most employers just don’t care about staffing.

If employers truly cared about talent acquisition, they’d help their hiring managers recruit in a much more active, creative way. They wouldn’t rely on passive recruiting–posting a job ad online and then wondering why they’re not getting applications from the best and brightest–to source candidates.  

Don’t Wait Until You’re Hiring to Start Networking

Consider this one aggressive way to identify exceptional IT workers: Attend as many conferences as you can and network like crazy. Even if you don’t currently have any open positions, everyone you meet at the event is someone new to add to your network who may one day be looking for a job or who may know incredible IT professionals who may be looking when you’re hiring. 

If you need to hire, say, Android developers or information security administrators, attend a conference for Android developers or an event such as RSA.  Make sure you meet as many conference speakers as you can (in addition to attendees) and ask the speakers who they’d hire.

Another idea: Attend events where credible awards are given out to industry professionals, and meet as many people as you can who’ve either won awards or been nominated. After all, isn’t that the caliber of professional you’re trying to hire, the creme de la creme?  

How You Can Sell Your Organization

In organizations that truly value talent acquisition, there’s money in the budget to attend events to do this sort of networking and recruiting. There’s also money in the budget to offer competitive salaries to extraordinary IT professionals. You can’t expect “top IT talent” to accept sub-par compensation. It’s beyond me how any employer thinks it can get away with low balling talented candidates.

Employers that understand the importance of talent acquisition find other progressive ways to recruit the best people: They let them telecommute, and in so doing are able to get a bigger pool of better applicants because they’re not restrained by zip codes. They also offer other flexible work arrangements that respect good candidates’ ability to self-manage and self-motivate. And they recruit based on the strength of the existing team that the candidate would be joining.

In other words, if they can’t offer an HTML5 developer a gajillion dollars, they can try to lure that individual with the opportunity to work with a team of equally talented, down-to-earth, hardworking, dedicated, enthusiastic individuals. They can also sell the candidate on a corporate culture that truly respects and compensates for the contributions of its employees.

What methods are you using to recruit IT professionals?