IT careers: 3 recruiting factors to rethink now

Hiring during the pandemic? You might want to reconsider how you use some traditional application filters, especially when it comes to new grads
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As COVID-19 has ravaged the global economy, many graduates of the class of 2020 have seen job offers vanish overnight.

This future workforce will recalibrate in the coming months, but many young job seekers may feel the sting of burnout as they look for opportunities in an unstable economy. Meanwhile, on the other end of the hiring process, HR feels the stress of doing more with less (and likely while remote).

During this crisis, organizations should take a fresh look at the top of the recruiting funnel and at how they can effectively bring in new talent. The way we work has changed tremendously, ushering in a new work model that’s here to stay. We need to talk more about what it takes to build a more inclusive, winning workforce – and that starts with how we recruit the Class of 2020.

Job requirements that were important five months ago may no longer be necessary today. What are the real needs for entry-level talent? Does location matter when the entire team is working remotely? How do you evaluate job experience when spring internships were canceled?

[ Want more on today's IT job market? Read: 5 flourishing and 5 fading IT careers. ]

HR and IT can focus on those new requirements to create a more empathetic, realistic application experience for both entry-level candidates and stretched-thin talent teams.

Here are three application filters for IT and HR to reconsider when recruiting new grads.

1. Location

Employers across industries are wrestling with back-to-the-office plans amidst murky phased approaches to state re-openings. Many big tech companies are leaping over the confusion by extending remote work for their employees into 2021. Twitter was quick to tell employees that they can continue to work from home permanently.

It begs the question: If we don’t need to rush back to HQ, why are we still including location as a qualifier? Employers can cast a wider net and find top talent, regardless of location.

If we don’t need to rush back to HQ, why are we still including location as a qualifier?

2. Knock-out questions

Application “knock-out” questions ask the applicant a yes/no question or 1-10 self-rating as the first level of screening. When these questions are based on hard skills, it deters applicants from moving forward – women specifically tend to rule themselves out at higher rates than men.

Don’t forget that spring internships and work experiences were canceled or cut short this year, leaving a gap on student resumes. Removing skill-based knock-out questions result in a more diverse applicant pool and avoids entry-level job seekers feeling like they need to check all the boxes to apply.

3. Education requirements

This is a big one. New-collar jobs – roles that require applicants to have experience in technical skills rather than a degree – are gaining momentum. Application systems that ask for a graduation date in order to move forward can bring the process to a grinding halt for many job seekers.

A job description for a techno-dextrous experience designer at Apple reads, “There are no specific educational requirements, but curiosity and knowledge around building, making, and storytelling is a must.” It’s an organizational shift to hire more for competencies and culture fit and to bring in entry-level talent that can offer new ideas to grow your business.

It’s an organizational shift to hire more for competencies and culture fit and to bring in entry-level talent that can offer new ideas to grow your business.

Keep in mind that the more strategic you are about which application filters you remove and include in your hiring process, the higher volume of candidates you can attract. If your talent teams are worried about too much volume, they can deploy AI/ML recruiting tools and assessments that screen for both hard skills and soft skills at scale rather than restricting applicant flow. AI makes for a better experience on the candidate side, with easy applications, virtual hiring processes, and recommendations for tailor-fit job openings.

Why should IT and HR prioritize the application experience? Because those new grads are full of energy, new skills, and innovative thoughts. They may not yet have the grit to withstand the onerous process of getting hired in a pandemic, but wouldn’t it be a shame to lose their potential for a lack of innovation on your part?

People are the heartbeat of every organization. Let’s welcome the opportunity to show more empathy for today’s job seekers and transform things for the better.

[ Want more on trends in IT talent? Read the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report: IT Talent Strategy: New Tactics for a New Era. ]

Amy Warner is the Director of Talent Acquisition at iCIMS, where she is responsible for developing and executing the company’s recruitment strategy. Amy started her career in finance at Goldman Sachs, and has held talent acquisition leadership roles at Johnson & Johnson and Cigna before joining iCIMS in 2016.