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6 Hiring Strategies for a Competitive IT Labor Market

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To say we’re experiencing a tight IT labor market is an understatement. The current unemployment rate for IT professionals in the U.S. is hovering around two percent, while the rate for certain IT skillsets is even lower. In response, employers are honing their hiring practices with an eye on any action they can take to increase their competitive advantage.

I often talk to hiring managers about the “shelf life” of candidates, which is now about as short as it can get. Any technology professional with a bit of experience can find three to five viable career options in a few days. Many employers are finding that qualified candidates who had expressed an interest in their firm are gone by the time they finish their normal, sometimes slow-paced hiring process.

BravoTECH has worked with hundreds of clients to help them expedite and improve their hiring and onboarding processes to secure elusive candidates. Some areas that should be evaluated and can often be improved are summarized here.

  1. Reduce the number of required interviews. Consider condensing the interview process by scheduling group interviews. If numerous people are needed for a hiring decision, schedule multiple interviews on the same day. Schedule Skype interviews for managers who are out of town rather than waiting for them to return to the office – or find an associate to take their place.
  2. Don’t wait too long for background checks. It’s important to perform a background check before an employee’s start date, but don’t delay a hiring decision while waiting days or weeks for the results. If you’ve found the right candidate, make an offer that is contingent on receiving positive background check and drug testing results.
  3. Spot departmental inefficiencies and eliminate them. If other departments are involved in the screening and interviewing process, make sure they understand your sense of urgency in making a hiring decision. Send a memo to managers of those departments stating your deadline for filling the position and summarizing how the new hire will contribute to the organization. Work directly with any individuals (or their supervisors) who aren’t responding in a timely manner.
  4. Stay on top of process and quality control. Many organizations have partially or totally automated the applicant screening and selection process. It’s up to you to make sure your system is optimizing your candidate search. If it rejects qualified individuals for incorrect formatting or if it isn’t searching the right key words, you might be losing ideal candidates. Make sure you know how your firm is screening and identifying potential candidates and address any process that might cause qualified candidates to be overlooked. Ask an employee to test and evaluate your system by applying for one of your openings through your website.
  5. Focus on the candidate experience. The biggest complaint candidates have about the recruiting process is the lack of feedback they get from recruiters and hiring managers. These complaints have grown louder as more companies have automated their sourcing processes. “Did a human actually see my resume?” “When will I hear back from the recruiter?” Whether you have recruiters or machines communicating with candidates, make sure you are providing timely, compassionate feedback. If you’re interested in a candidate, pick up the phone and call them yourself rather than delegating the task. Keep in mind that candidates talk to each other and post online reviews of their experiences with your company!
  6. Drop any unproductive, old school beliefs. One such belief is that you must interview three applicants before making an offer. In today’s environment, by the time you interview a third applicant the first candidate may have accepted another position. When you find the right candidate, make an offer.

Finally, it’s always a good reminder that applicants are individuals who have expressed an interest in, not made a commitment to your firm. The candidates you interview are talking to other firms and their career options are growing by the day. Don’t let an outdated or inefficient process keep you from securing the talented professionals you need to achieve your goals.