IT hiring: 4 ways to keep it human

Digital recruiting tools are essential these days, but don't forget that you're hiring people, not digital profiles. Keep these four tips in mind
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Companies have been using technology to recruit and hire employees for many years, but COVID has made digital recruiting indispensable. It is the only option when in-person interaction is limited, and it enables recruiters to search more broadly and efficiently as remote work becomes more standard.

Meanwhile, today’s red-hot job market is forcing organizations to be even more proactive and specific in finding the people they need to meet near-term business objectives, address cultural diversity, and prepare for long-term success. Furthermore, we have entered a new phase of digital recruiting by using artificial intelligence to find and assess candidates before a human even enters the process.

The result is that the hiring process is quickly becoming almost entirely digital. From recruiting to interviewing to onboarding, a company and a prospective or new employee may never see each other in person.

This may offer advantages in terms of speed, efficiency, cost, and business resilience. But it also risks making the process more transactional and less human. Candidates should always feel that there is a real person they can trust behind their interactions.

[ Want more advice on IT hiring? Read 6 hiring pitfalls to address now. ]

As an IT leader, it’s important to remember that you are hiring people. To avoid letting digitization take over the human side of recruiting and onboarding, keep these four key points in mind:

1. Don't just recruit a candidate – nurture them

You found an ideal candidate on LinkedIn – great! But you’re looking to hire a person, not a LinkedIn profile, so it’s important to define how you want that candidate to see your company and to build the foundation for a delightful, long-term fit.

Now more than ever, organizations need to have an Employer Value Proposition (EVP) that includes not only pay, benefits, and perks, but all the details – such as a non-political culture, opportunity for growth, commitment to employee well-being, and work-life balance – that come with working at the company. You aren’t selling a quick hiring process; you are selling a great place to work. What does yours look like?

You aren't selling a quick hiring process; you are selling a great place to work. What does yours look like?

Why should the candidate want to join your company over another – and stay? This is a human question that can get lost in online interactions unless the organization is intentional in focusing on it.

2. Get to know the candidate as a colleague

Video conferencing apps are great for lots of things, but getting a deep sense of a prospective employee is not one of them. It’s critical to learn as much as possible about what a candidate is like to work with, how they work with customers, and how they solve problems. What are their career goals and aspirations, and do they coincide with what you are looking for?

You may need to get creative here, whether it’s asking the right questions during interviews, searching for clues in the candidate’s social media feeds, having them present their thoughts on a subject, or getting information during reference checks. And consider whether it is worth the risk to meet in person for a face-to-face conversation.

[ Where is your team's digital transformation work stalling? Get the eBook: What's slowing down your Digital Transformation? 8 questions to ask. ]

3. Get to know the candidate as a person

Do you have a sense of who the candidate is as a person? Recruiters should screen for the prospective employee’s personality, style, and interests. These qualities are important, as they often speak to a person’s creativity and curiosity – key characteristics that carry over into their jobs – and what they’re like to work with.

We may live in a digital world, but cultural fit and team chemistry still matter. Letting the candidate know that they aren’t just a resume and that you want to work with the whole person will make for a winning relationship. If your company can act as a “concierge” for each employee’s experience, you can achieve a much higher sense of belonging.

4. Think long-term

Does the candidate show signs of future growth and contributing to the company for years to come? If people return to the office, would they want to share space with this person?

These kinds of questions speak to the long term, and recruiters should view candidates through that lens rather than simply filling an immediate need. Sometimes, the best fit can be someone with a non-standard profile – an up-and-comer, for example, or someone from another industry. These folks often have great enthusiasm and may be inclined to stay longer.

Addressing the human aspects of recruiting and hiring with these four points will put your organization at an advantage in today’s increasingly digital environment.

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

Carol Mackinlay is the Chief People Officer of UserTesting. She has held CHRO positions at several high-profile/high potential companies such as Xero, Plantronics, Jawbone, Borland, and Coverity. Carol brings a broad perspective to her role, having spent many years as a strategic, financial, compensation, and operations consultant.

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