6 biggest IT talent recruitment mistakes

Attracting and retaining IT talent couldn’t be any more important to IT leaders. Stop making these six avoidable IT talent recruitment mistakes
443 readers like this.
Harvard Business Review How to Keep Your Top Talent CIO

As the digital skills gap looms over virtually every industry imaginable, organizations in a range of different sectors have come to understand that changing their recruitment strategy can pay off.

The traditional approach is, for the most part, ingrained in outdated methods and cultural settings leftover from technology’s infancy. The plus side: Companies willing to adapt can get themselves in pole position to attract the best workers. 

Here are the six areas where we as recruiters see organizations making the biggest mistakes:

1. Unintentional bias in the recruiting process

There’s a huge battle to attract the best talent, and that fight can give the industry an unintentionally masculine undertone, which deters talented, experienced female professionals from applying for jobs.

Think twice about job ads that ask for the very best “coding ninjas” and “warriors.”

For instance, ads that ask for the very best “coding ninjas“ and “warriors“ are trying to appeal to those who like a challenge, but we’ve found that using more gender-neutral descriptors like “creative thinker“ and “problem-solver“ will also entice high caliber talent without putting off female applicants.

In an industry that struggles massively with underrepresentation, it’s an oft-repeated mistake. If you can make your recruitment process as fair and open as possible, you’ll likely draw a bigger number of applicants, which will give you access to a far deeper and more diverse pool of talent.

[ Read also: Why diverse IT teams have a competitive edge. ]

2. Stale benefits packages

More and more industries are embracing the digital revolution, meaning that talent is in more demand across a wider variety of sectors than ever before. Companies unfamiliar with tech recruitment are having to get creative in order to attract the right professionals, while others have been unwilling to adapt and change the benefits packages they offer.

Instead of throwing money at the situation, look at the benefits you’re able to offer and try to tailor them to market demands. It’s not unusual for industries new to hiring tech professionals to try and offer a greater degree of flexibility on things like working from home, for example. The more time an employee can avoid commuting to and from work may play a significant role in their decision to join a company.

Within our own organization, we have tried to create a strong culture within the business that we invest heavily in to appeal as an employer. That means monthly business meetings with an open bar, with every employee invited. This encourages employees to form bonds and helps create an atmosphere that people want to be, and remain, a part of.

3. Limited learning opportunities

It’s not just about tailoring your benefits package, of course. Attracting and retaining quality talent requires ongoing investment. The pace at which technology is evolving means that constant professional development is essential; fail to provide learning opportunities and you’ll be left with an expensive platform that’s gathering dust or damaging ROI because nobody knows how to use it effectively. Not only is training necessary, but the best workers will expect it.

The initial cost involved with a new hire is minimal compared to the constant development to ensure your staff is able to get the very best out of your digital solutions. Instead, it’s an ongoing commitment that many companies fail to heed, and they may find their turnover rate higher than they would like.

[ Read also: 7 ways to foster a culture of learning in IT. ]

4. Outdated technology

Nobody wants to go back to a stack that they were working on years ago.

Tech people love playing with stuff and getting their hands dirty, and if you’re working on new and exciting products that they can learn and figure out, it’ll make you an infinitely more enticing proposition. Nobody wants to go back to a stack that they were working on years ago. Ensuring you have the most up-to-date products may cost money, but it will pay for itself when it comes to attracting the most ambitious and dedicated professionals.

It’s also worth noting that for this reason, someone with a record of moving to new companies on a frequent basis may be doing so to keep up to date with current trends rather than having a natural tendency to move on.

Within IT recruitment, we regularly speak with candidates who are struggling to find their next job because potential employers have misconceived them as a quit-risk. It’s a big error that many organizations make, and it causes them to miss out on supremely ambitious and talented candidates. 

5. Skipping the technical interview

In a candidate-scarce market, the power is with the professionals you are trying to attract. Beware of resumes that are massaged and embellished. In the desperate scramble to attract what scarce talent is available, it’s easy to fall for that dream candidate who interviews perfectly and has a long list of skills and experience that you want. Make sure you test their technical capabilities in advance.

It sounds like a basic requirement of any hiring process, but the pressure of tech recruiting causes businesses to skim over this step too frequently. There’s a plethora of online tools out there to help with this during the hiring process. Having to get rid of a bad hire, or upskilling one to the standard you require because you didn’t do due diligence, is an embarrassing and expensive process.

6. Ignoring trends

Many other factors can influence someone's next career move, and that means keeping up to date with the trends impacting the talent you’re looking to hire. We conduct market research on an annual basis with professionals working across the technologies for which we recruit. It gives us a greater in-depth knowledge of the job market and what employees really look for in their next great role. Doing your own research and reading through these reports will also give you the insights you need to make the right changes to your processes.

Spending time immersed in the market itself has re-enforced the approach we take to recruitment. There’s a perception of recruiters promising the earth and failing to deliver, even on something as simple as returning a call. For us, we know that being a trustworthy part of the ecosystem goes a long way when tech professionals are looking to make a move. As a hiring manager, make sure you treat candidates well. You never know when you may be recruiting again, and selling someone on your organization now is easier than trying to win them around after a bad first experience.

Your digital talent needs won’t wait

Recruiting the best tech talent costs money. The best workers are in demand and hold the advantage, meaning it’s not an area where you have much room for negotiation. Trying to wait it out or get the best deal for yourself will rarely work out in your favor. Instead, you’ll be left empty-handed and facing a longer wait to plug the gaps you desperately need to fill.

Many companies slip up and make simple, avoidable mistakes when it comes to recruiting the staff to push their digital transformation forward. It’s not particularly difficult to get it right, and the benefits you will reap from some proactive planning and forethought will benefit your organization for a lifetime.

[ Read our related article, How to build more diverse IT teams: 3 strategies. ]

Ian Clark is Head of Americas at Frank Recruitment Group, having first joined the industry as a trainee recruitment consultant. Having initially moved to the US in 2016 to oversee the launch of offices in Philadelphia and Tampa, he is now managing more than 600 employees across eight locations.