For years, the IT department was perceived as the people who merely made sure that computers worked and that the network stayed up and running. Those in the know, however, knew that IT had a much more strategic role. In fact, over the past 10 years, IT has rightly been given a seat at the table where key business decisions are made.
But with higher respect comes increased competition for the best technical talent. Companies understand that they’re only as strong as their IT staff. That’s why recruiting requires a lot more than posting a job listing on LinkedIn. To attract the best you need to convey why they should even consider talking to you in the first place.
Consider that perception is reality. If a prospect knows about your staff’s stellar reputation, they’ll pay a lot more attention to your offer. It’s not just that they want to work with the best, they want to be associated with the best. To develop this reputation, promote your current IT employees and the work they do. Tweets, LinkedIn articles, and videos on YouTube can do a great job of sharing these stories, and it’s easy for these pieces of content to go viral.
Remember that excellence comes in many forms. While you may have a standard checklist of job requirements, there are many superstar IT pros who don’t have a traditional background, training, or work history. Look at your criteria and try to broaden them so they don’t filter out candidates based on trivial requirements. Your department shouldn’t be homogenous – you want diversity in background, as well as in perspective.
No matter who you target, be sure to sell more than the job. Sell the organization – what you stand for, your values, how you make the world a better place. The best IT pros, since their skills are in such demand, are often looking for more than a paycheck.
Let them know why they’ll fit in on a human level. This is otherwise known as “culture”. And keep in mind that “culture” has nothing to do with ping-pong tables and free lunch. It’s about people being around others with shared values.
Despite the potential ways you have to attract talent, don’t forget that you probably have some of those people already on the payroll. That’s right – think how you can recruit internally. How can you develop current employees with new skills? Often all one needs is the opportunity, and all of a sudden you have exactly the person you need for an open role. In turn, they’re more likely to continue their career path with you rather than take the next offer they get from a competitor.
Whether you’re recruiting internally or externally, be sure to highlight the strategic opportunities of the role, rather than simply the functional aspects of the job. Those at the top of their field want to be involved in projects from the beginning, discussing how and why to pursue a specific course of action. Being a mere order-taker isn’t something these people want to do with their days. They want to learn, they want to be challenged, they want to be part of groundbreaking projects.
Perhaps most importantly, when you’re interested in a candidate, take action immediately. Again, the best people get offers constantly, and you have no time to waste. A delay of even a few days and could cause you to miss out on someone special. Make an offer as fast as possible and cut out the obligatory negotiations. Unless the prospect is being unrealistic in their compensation requirements, avoid the game playing that often occurs with negotiations. Good talent is hard to find. Make it as easy as possible for them to choose you.