Recruiting IT Talent: What You Keep Forgetting to Promote

By Miriam Groom

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Filling an IT position can be challenging at the best of times. Whether there’s a shortage of positions, a shortage of qualified talent, or a global pandemic that has disrupted the industry, recruiting IT talent always requires considerable dedication. In addition to a recruitment strategy that gets continually reviewed and updated, what IT professionals look for in a job, changes over time.

All too often, hiring managers and recruiters lose sight of what makes a role attractive. They place too much emphasis on the salary or on the company’s growth and success. Worse, they focus on assessing the candidate and forget that selling the role is also part of the recruitment process

Promoting a position, from drafting the job description to preliminary and secondary interviews requires some creativity on the recruiter’s part. Holding the candidate's attention and making good first impressions is a must, and how you go about it should evolve along with the industry and the current state of IT talent.

Instead of exclusively discussing the most fundamental aspects of a role such as salary, work hours, and perks, promote these variables to win over more quality IT candidates.

Reinforce meaningfulness of the project

Gone are the days when people see their job simply as a way of paying bills. Over the past few decades, people have started to express their profound need to feel that their work matters. For example, consider a cybersecurity specialist who will work to protect the company’s data. This might be important because that company data also comprises information from millions of customers – people whose lives could potentially be devastated by an insidious hacker. For this reason, the role of a cybersecurity specialist is crucial for the safety of both the company and the lives of their customers. When recruiting, reinforce the value of the role and how it impacts society or the environment to better connect with candidates.

Showcase pathways to career growth

Some IT professionals are looking for stability exclusively, but many others seek career advancement opportunities. Describing a role might be the obvious part of any interview, but don’t forget to give examples of employees who started in a similar position, and have since advanced in the company. Many candidates aspire to be team leaders or to oversee departments and complex projects. Forget to communicate this possibility, and you might fail to attract some of the more ambitious candidates. 

Support physical and mental health

Basic health care benefits are an essential offering, but it’s important to emphasize how much the company values both physical and mental wellbeing. According to the Canadian government, 1 in 5 Canadians experience a psychological health problem or illness in any given year. Moreover, a study revealed that only 23% of Canadian workers would feel comfortable talking to their employer about a psychological health issue. Candidates should be made aware of the employer’s position on mental health support during the recruitment process.

In our increasingly digital world, employers also have the responsibility to recognize that most jobs are 100% sedentary and take place in front of a screen. Don’t forget to acknowledge the impact this has on health, and what the employer is doing to combat associated illnesses. Do they promote screen breaks at the office, and encourage exercise by teaming up with local fitness centers or instructors? This should all be a part of the initial job pitch, even if it sounds trivial.

Communicate Company values

While IT professionals such as back-end developers or software engineers might spend most of their time analyzing systems and code, don’t underestimate the value they place on their employer’s ethical practices. Hiring managers and recruiters should absolutely promote the company’s corporate responsibility and ethical values. Not only does it help gauge whether or not the candidate’s values align with those of the organization, but it reinforces messages of transparency, fairness, and accountability; something many IT professionals seek in an employer of choice. 

Promote work/life balance policies

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that many employees work well from home; they might even be more productive when telecommuting. While many IT specialists are known for their extreme focus and ability to work on time-consuming projects, like everyone else, they need a healthy personal life in order to bring their best to the workplace. When recruiting IT experts, don’t forget to discuss flexible remote work options, as well as your parental leave policy and support for parents. Employers might be looking for candidates who will spend as much time as possible at the office, but keep in mind that healthy and satisfied IT professionals will have a more favorable view of their employer if they have enough time to enjoy their personal life. Communicate the respect for work/life balance, and you’ll likely forge a better connection with candidates.

 

It’s important to recruit IT professionals with the long-term in mind. Part of a retention strategy should begin with the initial phase of recruitment. It might be straightforward to fill a vacancy with an IT professional with the right qualifications, but don’t forget to ask: do they have the right attitude for this role and this team? Do they fit with the company culture? Will they have an intellectual and emotional connection to the job, or are they looking for a short term solution to their current work situation? By promoting the societal impact of the job, showcasing company culture and commitment to ethical work, and providing examples of growth, IT candidates will likely be more engaged in the conversation. 

Companies in just about every sector benefit from having strong tech specialists on their team; get hiring right the first time, and they have a greater chance of staying loyal in the long run.

 

This article was written by Miriam Groom, VP of Sales and Marketing at Groom and Associates, a Canadian recruitment agency specialized in IT recruiting.

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