As a manager who has both staffed and run technology teams, and a job interviewee who has interacted with hundreds of recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers, I can say with confidence that the recruiting and hiring process in many companies is in serious need of review and overhaul.
The stories I see and hear are ubiquitous, regardless of company size or industry – a several months long interview processes; dozens of phone, virtual and in-person meetings; candidates being dropped without notice or limited response after months of interviewing; job requirements that go on for pages that no one person could ever meet; applicant tracking systems (ATS) that block the most qualified candidates; hiring professionals who do not understand the nuances of a technical job role, but nevertheless are the gatekeepers to a candidate getting seen by the hiring manager.
In a low-unemployment market where candidates with marketable tech skills are in high demand, companies need to get creative and think outside the box when it comes to attracting the best and brightest talent.
The recruitment process that has made its way into all organizations over the past ten years is stifling hiring, and can be the most detrimental for companies that rely on highly skilled and specialized technology talent. Let’s face it, if you work in an insurance company and HR is hiring for a claims adjuster, they are pretty skilled in that area and know the questions to ask and the things to look for. But is the same HR professional able to recruit a data scientist for your IT department? Besides going through a list of qualifications and matching them against keywords on the employees resume, are those recruiters really helping to get the right person to the hiring manager quickly, or just providing another level of interference and bureaucracy in the process?
If CIOs and senior IT leaders want to get the best tech talent in the door as quickly as possible, try out these strategies for recruiting and hiring top tech talent for your company.
Strategy #1: Assume the Lead
Even though in a specialized field you may have some HR professionals that are plugged into specialized tech skills, it is the hiring manager who really understands those skills and how they would apply to a real-life job role in their department. A smart hiring manager takes the recruiting process seriously and dedicates a good portion of their time during the week to always seeking out the right candidates for the company. And they are not hesitant to create a role for a superstar candidate who may not quite fit the role as advertised. Don’t lose a top person because they did not fit neatly into a rigid set of criteria for a particular role; be flexible enough to adjust where necessary to get the right person for your company and the future.
Strategy #2: Shorten the Hiring Process
The typical hiring process for many companies now extends into a multi-month of commitment for all involved. This extended process was developed in part to help reduce risk for companies to bring in the right talent for the company, but instead has grown into a system that does the opposite, stopping qualified candidates from getting to the hiring manager. Keep a top talent tech employee on the hook for three months, and there is a good chance they will jump ship mid-process for a more lucrative, or just plain faster offer.
Some companies have responded to this, as reported by sources inside one of our country’s biggest banks, by implementing ‘exploding offers,’ or offers that expire within 48 hours, even after an extended recruitment period. This is the wrong reaction to a self-created situation. The appropriate approach here should be for companies to identify why the process is taking so long, how it may be streamlines, and how they may fast track superstar candidates before they are poached by the competition. Don’t put all candidates into the same box and push them all through the same hoops at the same time. If someone looks good and exceptional, make exceptions to get them talking to the right people immediately and make that candidate feel like they are not just another corporate commodity being brought through procurement.
Strategy #3: Show Respect to Candidates
With a months-long, grueling recruitment processes in which every candidate is treated as a commodity to be run through a series of checks and hurdles for them to jump through, candidates can come through not feeling like they are a special asset being considered by the business. In modern recruitment, people are filtered based on keyword criteria, and all are treated the same until they make it through the filters to the hiring manager.
Whether you are able or not to redirect some of the process from your HR team, it is critical that high quality candidates are flagged early on so they can be led through the process with a whiter glove treatment. Make each candidate feel like they matter to the company, that you have respect for them by returning their calls in a reasonable period, and if they do not get the position, let them know directly. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen companies, dismiss without follow-up, candidates because they didn’t fit an exact role, potential damaging a potential future relationship and perception of the company’s brand.
Recruitment filtering processes in which software and keyword criteria are being used to vet and sort candidates are not fulfilling their designed purpose. These processes can hinder, not enable, the recruitment of qualified candidates for position, and need to be addressed at a systemic level. Until that time comes, as a hiring manager you need to bring skilled tech talent on board now, and the quickest and most efficient way is to assist your HR team and review resumes personally assisting in the filtering process. And, when good people do come through, you need to have a way to flag them early on as a potential superstar and treat them with the respect that is warranted for their time and commitment to your process.