Hire the best IT pros out there: 4 key strategies

With competition for IT pros heating up, it’s even more important that companies hire the best tech employees the first time. Here are some tips that can help companies do that. 

Hiring the wrong candidate is costly for companies. At best, the company wastes a lot of money bringing someone on board only to have to do it all again shortly after.

And at worst, productivity might suffer greatly while all the problems are sorted out.

Unfortunately, 66% of U.S. firms say they’ve been hurt by a bad hire at least once in the past year, according to a CareerBuilder survey. And 27% of firms reported that a single hiring mistake has cost them more than $50,000.

Things may be even worse in IT, where competition for technology employees means it’s critical to find the right person before another employer does.

Here are some steps IT managers can take to avoid bad hires and hire the best talent sooner:

Dig deeper and verify

One obstacle getting in the way of smart IT hiring: Candidates aren’t always completely truthful when talking about their qualifications.

While some flat-out lie on a resume, a more common occurrence is that experience and credentials are exaggerated. In fact, 77% of IT leaders say that most IT resumes exaggerate the candidate’s qualifications, according to a survey from TEKsystems. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of IT workers said the same.

Meanwhile, 35% of IT leaders and 39% of IT employees said most tech resumes contain blatant lies.

What can IT managers do to make sure they’re only hiring the candidates who are actually qualified for the job? One step is to beef up the applicant screening process. That includes checking with previous employers to verify the candidate’s claims, as well as conducting technical assessments during the interview process to see real evidence of applicants’ skills.

Look at behavior and cultural fit

While verifying candidates’ skills is key, it’s also important that IT hiring managers don’t get too focused on candidates’ technical abilities. Those are necessary, of course, but given how quickly the IT field changes, many experts recommend companies look for candidates that fit the organization’s culture and can be trained to develop new skills in the future.

That’s especially the case when companies need IT pros to work in rapidly growing areas like cloud computing, mobile development and Big Data. Finding candidates with those skills may be especially difficult, so finding someone who is generally talented and eager to learn new things may be the best bet.

Work closely with HR

Typically, the HR department is the first stop in the applicant screening process. That can be a challenge when hiring for tech positions, since often those jobs are difficult for non-IT people to understand. It’s especially difficult for recruiters all the complex terminology involved in the IT world.

The end result, unfortunately, is the resumes that get passed to IT don’t represent the group of applicants most qualified for the role. Great resumes may be tossed before the IT manager even sees them, and the manager may have to sort through a less than ideal pile.

To solve those problems, some larger companies hire recruiters that specialize in IT hiring. But for businesses with smaller HR departments, it’s up to the IT manager to offer as much guidance as possible when looking to fill a tech position.

That means being specific about the job’s requirements. For each open position, it may be helpful to give a written document with a list of everything the department is looking for, including full terms and the acronyms that might be used instead.

In addition, an IT staffer can step in to help HR during the recruiting process to look at resumes and perform other tasks.

Start on the right foot

Sometimes, trouble with a new employee isn’t completely caused by a wrong hire — the way the person was brought into the company can also be to blame.

Onboarding is critical for a new IT employee’s success, according to the leaders polled in another recent TEKsystems survey.

Among the survey respondents:

  • 63% said an onboarding program is highly valuable for new employees
  • 53% agreed it creates better cohesion among co-workers, and
  • 47% say effective onboarding is important for the long-term success of the company.

However, only 12% of IT pros said their organization’s onboarding was “extremely effective.” To improve things, experts recommend companies:

  1. Make sure everything is ready logistically for the employee’s first day — if that day feels disorganized, it can give the new hire a lasting bad impression.
  2. Focus on the employee’s specific position — general information about the company is important, but new hires also want to know about their particular role fits into the big picture.
  3. Don’t front-load with paperwork — companies often try to get all of the boring forms out of the way when a new person first arrives, but some experts warn that might kill the person’s enthusiasm for joining the company.

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