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Beyond the job boards: Creative IT recruitment

The IT talent shortage poses challenges, but hiring managers are using new practices to attract top-tier candidates with a little ingenuity and some help from HR.

If there was ever a carpe diem moment for IT, that time is now. New technologies are enabling brilliant innovations, which presents unprecedented opportunities for IT. But a major stumbling block is in the way: a shortage of talent that shows no signs of abating.

The overwhelming majority of larger IT organizations (91 percent) are struggling to fill open IT positions, according to an exclusive study on hiring and the IT workforce, conducted by IDG and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Of the 101 IT executives surveyed, 57 percent cited increased demand for complex technical skills as part of the problem, while 28 percent cited a shrinking pool of available IT applicants.

Combine the need for highly specialized skills with a limited pool of candidates and you’ve got the makings for hiring indigestion. Nearly half of respondents (49 percent) grapple with attracting top talent, calling into question the viability of long-standing recruitment tactics.

IT hiring managers in the largest organizations might call in the HR department to help source and court high-caliber hires. But when the talent pool is small, the in-demand technologies are best described as “emerging,” and the stakes are high, traditional hiring practices are no longer enough to find and attract top-tier IT talent.

That isn’t to say that every IT hiring manager ignores the established HR department. HR can be used in several ways. For example, it can drive the process, taking charge of defining the job requisition with the manager’s input and presenting the manager with already-vetted, diversity-checked, and ready-to-interview candidates. HR can collaborate with the hiring manager during the hiring process, or the hiring manager can drive the candidate search, calling on HR for assistance in processing resumes, for instance, or scheduling interviews.

In more than two-thirds of companies surveyed (68 percent), HR is a central or equal player in the IT talent recruitment process. At more than half of the companies surveyed (51 percent), HR was an equal collaborator with the manager during the hiring process. This was even more likely (61 percent) at companies with younger hiring managers (ages 25 to 44), compared with 42 percent of companies with older IT execs.

Online job boards? That’s so 2010

IT hiring managers who actively collaborate with HR—rather than letting the department run the show—seem to have an easier time with recruitment. That’s in part because they are open to trying new approaches instead of relying solely on the tried-and-true mix of HR-driven practices. A small sampling of survey respondents seems to confirm this observation, finding that it is much more taxing to fill open positions in companies where HR controls the hiring process. In addition, the frequency of job offer rejections was higher among this segment over the past three years.

The research also found that when HR steers the IT recruitment process, the emphasis tends to be on traditional methods such as job boards like Monster.com and popular social media sites. By letting HR steer the course in this direction, IT hiring managers run the risk of overlooking a highly prized stream of potential candidates. These sources are not as well trafficked by younger, more digitally savvy workers, which means the most-desired techies are less likely to come across the job listings.

The most effective ways to find qualified job candidates 
Traditional job boards (Monster, Dice, etc.) and applicant-tracking systems 33%
Converting temporary or contract workers to full-time employment 33%
External recruiters 27%
Word of mouth 26%
Professional social media sites (e.g., LinkedIn) 25%
Deliberate outreach (e.g., searching GitHub to find contributors to open source projects companies are using) 18%
Skill-testing platforms and AI-based analysis (e.g., Interviewing.io) 15%
General social media sites (e.g., Facebook) 14%
I don’t know; someone else, perhaps HR, takes care of that 14%
Other 2%
Source: IDG-HPE survey of 101 IT executives, June 2018. Multiple answers accepted.  

Conversely, IT hiring managers who raise expectations for HR and collaborate on the process hold more sway over candidate recruitment methods and tools. For larger organizations, traditional approaches—such as job boards and converting contract workers to full-time employees—remain the most common tools used and are certainly effective to a point.

“We use plenty of online channels, and our HR team is well connected in the scene of IT,” said an IT director at a large enterprise company.

However, companies are finding it’s worthwhile to introduce alternative options into the hiring mix. For example, they may turn to newer practices, such as professional social media sites (used by 25 percent of respondents) and deliberate outreach to candidates with specialized skills through targeted venues like GitHub (18 percent).

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Sometimes, it’s HR adopting the new technology. Applicant-tracking systems have been an important HR tool for many years. These systems automate posts to job boards, schedule interviews, measure diversity goals, send offers, and ultimately serve as a multistage, orderly workflow from “We got the resume” to “Kim is hired!” Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and analytics are having a notable impact on that process, affecting how IT hiring managers and their HR counterparts get the job done. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of organizations are leveraging AI to aid in the hiring process for everything from optimizing job postings (36 percent of respondents) to narrowing the applicant pool, cited by 28 percent of respondents. Ten percent are using new AI-based tools to make interview scheduling more efficient.

The bottom line

The IT talent crunch is challenging, but it isn’t insurmountable. By exploring new venues, calling on HR for where its expertise lies, and experimenting with alternative recruitment tactics, IT hiring managers can keep their pipelines flush and attract the best candidates.

This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.