3 mistakes that lead to bad IT hires

IT departments are growing as companies are finding new funding available to hire technology professionals. When organizations add IT staff, it’s critical to make the right hire the first time. 

In 2013, IT departments grew more than was originally expected, according to a recent survey conducted by the Society for Information Management (SIM). For the year, the average IT budget was 4.95% of the company’s total revenue. That was up just a slight notch from 4.94% in 2013, but a significant increase compared to the average of 3.96% over the previous nine years.

A lot of that extra funding is going toward staffing. Close to half (47%) of respondents said their internal IT staff grew in 2013, while 23% downsized. The growth will only accelerate next year, as 55% expect to add staff in 2014, while just 18% anticipate a decrease in staffing.

It isn’t just increasing the headcount that’s added to the money spent on hiring. As more opportunities become available, more IT professionals are leaving their organizations for others. In 2013, the average rate of IT staff turnover was 6.5%, up from 5.2% in 2012.

Long story short: A lot of companies are looking to hire IT pros right now.

Making great hires is critical

The fact that budgets are increasing doesn’t mean companies have unlimited funds to put into landing the top people they need. In fact, a growing shortage of talent means that it could be difficult to beat out the competition for new employees — and that the margin for error in hiring decisions will be smaller than ever.

To avoid missing out on top candidates and having to start the process all over again due to bringing in the wrong person, here are some of the IT hiring mistakes to look out for:

1. Failing to communicate with HR

Recruiters, HR managers and others in the HR department typically provide the first step in filtering out candidates for jobs. Unfortunately, IT jobs are often difficult for non-technical people to understand, and HR staff don’t always know what to look for.

Before filling any tech position, IT should provide a written list of all the key words to look for, including the acronyms that may appear on IT resumes. Also, it may help to lend an IT staff member to HR during the hiring process so there’s a tech-savvy person looking at resumes.

It’s also important for IT managers to make sure job descriptions are up to date. In IT the work is also changing, so what the company needs from a new hire will evolve as well.

2. Hiring only based on technical skills

Since IT jobs are always changing, it’s important to look beyond a candidate’s purely technical skills and experience. Of course, there will be some technical requirements for most IT jobs, but it’s also important to look for people who fit the company culture and can grow with the business.

Some of the attributes to look for when hiring:

  • a desire to learn and acquire new skills
  • a basic understanding of business
  • good communication skills
  • strong teamwork skills, and
  • a dedication to good customer service.

3. Recruiting only when a hire is needed

With such a shallow pool of IT talent, only looking for candidates when a specific need opens up could mean missing out on the best available hires.

To get the best, companies should always be looking for people who can be contacted when the need arises. One good strategy is to ask current IT staffers for referrals. It’s also a a good idea to a lot of networking to make contacts to add to the pipeline.

In addition, many firms have success working with colleges to set up internship programs to establish a relationship with people who will be looking for jobs in the future.

For more help, read out ultimate IT hiring guide.

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