6 IT hiring pitfalls to address now

Candidates largely call the shots in today's IT job market. Avoid these six common pitfalls to boost your odds of attracting and hiring top IT talent
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In terms of IT jobs, it’s largely a candidate’s market. If the predicted post-pandemic turnover tsunami hasn’t hit your organization yet, it may soon. The hybrid work options that the pandemic created means that as an IT leader, you may have more open roles – and a tougher time filling them.

That points to the need to step up retention efforts. But there are also IT hiring practices that need rethinking. Fine-tuning your recruiting approach can improve your ability to attract and retain top IT talent.

6 IT hiring moves to avoid

Consider these six areas as you strive to improve your IT hiring processes during this critical year.

1. Too many cooks

Inexperienced, untrained, or unprepared interviewers can sink a company’s chances of winning over a recruit. But that’s just the part of the problem with many corporate IT job interviews, according to Paul Wallenberg, director at technology staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network. “Another element that can negatively impact interviews is a lack of alignment in organizations about the purpose of each step in an interview process,” says Wallenberg, who advises that hiring managers need to be clear about the purpose of each interview with both their hiring team and the candidates.

“Many candidates are dropping the interview process due to having too many interviews as part of the process,” Wallenberg adds. Any more than three interviews or seven interviewers is too many, Wallenberg says.

2. The 'my way or the highway' offer

"Now more than ever before, I’m seeing candidates opt out of interviewing for good positions because the situation doesn’t meet their work-life balance or location needs," says Kelly Doyle, managing director at IT executive recruiting firm Heller Search Associates. “It’s a candidate’s market today.”

[ Want more advice on IT hiring? Read IT hiring: 5 tips to move past the "ideal candidate" trap. ]

Brian Abrahamson, CIO and the associate laboratory director for communications and IT at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Labrecently told us that embracing a hybrid workplace model that gives employees flexibility in how and where they work helps to attract new hires. “Many candidates have been very successfully working remote for the past year and a half and are being selective about what works best for them and their families,” Doyle says.

IT leaders may also need to get more creative and flexible with compensation to get a yes from their top choices for critical roles.

3. Lack of role clarity

Hiring managers should be clear long before interviews are scheduled about the appropriate skills profile for a position. It’s the best way to ensure that the IT group focuses its efforts on candidates who are likely to succeed. Of course, being too inflexible with the desired candidate profile can be a problem as well. “Hiring managers should not have inflexible requirements for targeted skills and qualifications, but more product-level agnosticism for hands-on skills, so they can find more qualified candidates,” Wallenberg says. “The more time invested up front leads to requiring less time later in identifying the best candidates.”

4. Take-home assessments or timed tests

In-demand IT professionals will have less patience for companies that drag out the hiring process. One way to streamline it is to integrate technical assessments into the interview steps rather than requiring take-home assessments or timed exercises. “This will lower the candidate drop-off rates,” says Wallenberg.

5. One-off approaches

Have a lot of roles to fill? Seek out efficiencies. “If leaders are hiring in bulk, they should create a tech hiring committee and let high-performing or high-potential team members lead it and guide the hiring roadmap,” Wallenberg says. “Along with having this team, companies should also educate HR teams on what to look for and which qualification requirements have flexibility, so they do not have too much of a magnifying glass while screening resumes.”

6. Delays in decision-making

“It’s a busy IT market, with a lot of openings and high demand for good people,” Doyle says, “so slow decision-making by hiring committees can cost them their best candidates.”

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Stephanie Overby is an award-winning reporter and editor with more than twenty years of professional journalism experience. For the last decade, her work has focused on the intersection of business and technology. She lives in Boston, Mass.

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