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Buying a home is the most significant financial commitment a person can make. The prospect of home ownership brings a sense of pride, stability and security. Compared to renting, ownership also means complete control over the property and freedom to make customizations and improvements without having to seek permission from a landlord.

However, the home-buying process can be time-intensive and overwhelming—from saving for a down payment, to getting preapproval for a mortgage, to finding a real estate agent and navigating the housing market, to finally making an offer and closing the deal. It’s a big decision, but with patience, diligent research, persistence, some good luck and the right real estate agent to assist in your search, finding your dream home that matches your family and lifestyle needs is possible.

Like buying a house, the job search process can be overwhelming. More so than ever before, job seekers and employers have access to a wealth of information through countless channels. The breadth of resources available—to both job seekers and employers—makes it difficult to navigate through the noise and find the right-fit job or candidate. In the current economic climate, demand for quality candidates outweighs the supply, and even those gainfully employed are constantly evaluating the job market, what’s available and what their skills are worth. This is especially true in IT, where technology changes demand new skills and there are more open positions than there are candidates with the niche skills needed. Employers struggle to find the most qualified and best-fit candidates; meanwhile, job seekers, including those currently employed, are proactively looking for opportunities to further their position.

TEKsystems surveyed nearly 1,000 IT professionals and more than 400 IT leaders, including CIOs, IT vice presidents, IT directors and IT hiring managers across North America. The survey takes a look at the job search process, from both IT professionals’ and IT leaders’ perspectives. This paper explores the survey’s findings and provides recommendations and best practices for efficiently and effectively making the best match for your next IT job and your next IT candidate.

More Than Just HGTV: The State of the IT Job Market

In the search for quality IT professionals, competition is fierce and this creates a sense of stress and anxiety among IT employers, given the volume of solicitations their people are receiving each week. Organizations that lack a strong retention strategy may find their top performers leaving for better opportunities. Because IT is constantly changing, a focus on professional development is especially important to retaining the right people. Consider skill sets that were in high demand in the past, such as COBOL or Adobe Flash; COBOL has been replaced by the likes of Java, C# and C++, while HTML5 is more sought after than Flash. Many of the aging technologies that previously required high-demand skill sets have become obsolete, making those skills irrelevant. IT employers can never get complacent about their workforces.

A direct challenge to retaining IT talent is the fact that so many IT professionals are willing to learn about open positions. In fact, a staggering 81 percent report they are open to new job opportunities, even when they are happily employed and not actively looking. Nearly 8 out of 10 (77 percent) say they submit their resumes to more than 10 job openings each week. IT professionals are willing to entertain the prospect of a new job by exploring what is available, and IT employers are just as eager: IT professionals reportedly receive an average of 34 solicitations in a given week. IT professionals are receiving these frequent solicitations from many different sources, but traditional mediums like phone and email account for the majority (65 percent) of weekly solicitations. Meanwhile, more than half of the job opportunities they hear about are deemed irrelevant because they do not match their skills, goals and interests.

Just as IT employers feel the stress of retaining their IT teams, IT professionals feel the pressure to stay relevant to the IT job market by being well-versed and skilled in the latest IT trends. Their peers are chasing job opportunities by submitting their resumes on a daily basis, and ensuring their skills are up to par is critical to standing out from the pack. While 73 percent of IT leaders report receiving 10 or more resumes for every open position, the majority (56 percent) say that more than half of the resumes they receive are from candidates who are unqualified for the position.

Partner With a Professional: Recommendations for Improvement

Checking the Real Estate Listings: Searching for the Best Match

When searching for a home, prospective home buyers have access to numerous tools for perusing the housing market. House-hunting websites such as Zillow or Trulia make browsing easy; realty companies offer the expertise needed to navigate the market and make sure you find the right match, and real estate agents themselves provide insight that goes above and beyond what you can find online. Similarly, in the IT job market, there are resources available for both hiring managers and candidates to find their match, such as using social media, leveraging personal or professional networking connections, partnering with a recruiting or staffing firm, tapping employer career sites, checking third-party online job boards, or checking rating and review websites.

Social media resources in particular have dramatically changed the way the job search process works compared to decades past. Both IT leaders and job seekers use social media extensively. The majority of IT leaders report that they use social media to source (68 percent) and screen (82 percent) candidates. Meanwhile, IT professionals are also heavy social media users when it comes to sourcing job opportunities (75 percent) and learning more about potential employers (85 percent).

  • Why use social media?
    IT leaders and IT professionals rely on social media outlets for different reasons. According to IT leaders, social media is helpful for screening candidates, validating resume claims and sourcing candidates. Alternatively, IT professionals say social media is most useful for learning about the company, culture and products/services it provides, viewing job descriptions and potential openings, checking the validity of the company and reviewing comments others have made about the company.
  • Which social media channels are being used most?
    IT leaders and IT professionals are in agreement on the most effective social media for sourcing candidates/job openings. LinkedIn is ranked No.1 with 64 percent and 67 percent of leaders and professionals, respectively. Each group also reports Facebook, Google+ and Twitter usage, underlining the fact that social media platforms cannot be ignored.
  • What is the impact?
    With heavy social media usage among both parties, it is important that employers and job seekers alike think strategically when it comes to developing their social media footprint and understand the potential negative implications that can emerge. While all IT professionals would agree that a potential employer with a negative online presence could impact their decision to work at that company, the pain threshold varies. But the majority, (55 percent), report that it would only require one negative post about a potential employer to cause them to eliminate the employer from consideration. On the other hand, job candidates should also be wary of the trail they leave behind on social media, as 68 percent of IT leaders report that they would remove a candidate from consideration if they had made even one negative comment online about their current employer.

Although job and candidate search resources like social media share similar goals of helping people establish connections and matching qualified IT professionals to companies in need of their skills, the two audiences are misaligned when it comes to which resources they believe are most effective. IT leaders think networking (81 percent) or recruiting firms (80 percent) are the top resources for finding qualified IT candidates; meanwhile, IT professionals believe third-party online job boards (70 percent) are best for finding job opportunities that match their skills, goals and interests.

Interestingly, job boards are reported to be one of the least effective resources from the perspective of IT leaders. In fact, more than half (52 percent) report that by the time they post a job to an external job board, they have already started the process of finding and reaching out to candidates. Thirty-four percent of those leaders take it a step further and claim to have already initiated discussions with their most preferred candidates. This clear misalignment—between what resources IT leaders place value in and what resources IT professionals trust to find the right match—indicates that IT professionals should refocus their energy away from job boards in favor of networking and recruiting alternatives. Consider the recruiter’s role in comparison to that of a real estate agent. Compared to house-hunting websites, real estate agents are able to offer firsthand insight on specific aspects of a property, such as the neighborhood, the school district, and the level of urgency and/or desperation of the buyer/ seller. Similarly, recruiters offer industry knowledge, local market expertise and effective, proven talent management strategies. They understand what IT professionals are looking for and can guide employers in developing an employee value proposition that attracts the right candidates.

Considering School Districts and Neighborhood Amenities: Narrowing the Search

With IT professionals submitting resumes so frequently—10 or more times per week for most—IT leaders must screen carefully to find the right candidates. Seventy-six percent of IT leaders believe many IT resumes include exaggerations and buzzwords that may impress at first glance. Just as house-hunting websites may show a misleading photo of the size of a backyard, employers may realize these resumes don’t accurately reflect a candidate’s true experience. The high volume of resume submissions is often due to the automated recruitment processes many companies have in place. Employers use these electronic Web submission programs to minimize the time dedicated to sourcing qualified candidates, enabling hiring managers to input requirements needed for open positions and filter for resumes that contain certain verbiage. Candidates use targeted language in their resumes in order to ensure their resume is filtered into the search results and considered for the position.

This introduces another challenge in the IT hiring process. The volume of IT job titles is vast and lacks standardization. Roles and responsibilities for a specific skill at Company A may not directly correspond to the responsibilities for the very same skill at Company B. Therefore, the titles aren’t directly comparable. This inconsistency provides IT professionals with some flexibility when listing their skill sets, while also burdening employers who receive resumes that don’t meet the qualifications they need for the open position.

Similar to a real estate agent’s ability to provide human insight to help eliminate poorly matched properties from your search, recruiting firms can offer unique expertise, unmatched by websites. For IT professionals, recruiters can provide knowledge of the skill sets and how they translate from company to company, which allows them to point candidates in the right direction of positions that fit their skills and career goals. For IT employers, recruitment firms are able to leverage their intimate knowledge of the industry to help employers hone the laundry list of skill requirements, limiting it to only those skills that are most valuable and critical to the available position.

Completing the Inspection: Verifying Claims

Before you sign on the dotted line, you want to be sure that you’re making a sound investment. Real estate agents can help homebuyers navigate the necessary steps before settlement, such as walk-throughs and inspections. In the candidate search process, employers can safeguard against hiring the wrong person by validating references—a critical step in the process, considering the volume of resumes and the reported use of exaggerations found in resumes. Yet, only 31 percent of IT leaders report that they always validate references, and only 11 percent of IT professionals perceive that to be the case.

Considering the specific job requirements listed for any open IT position, and the reality that IT jobs and skill sets are not standardized, a job title at one company does not perfectly translate to the same job title at another company. Employers will be better positioned to find the right match by following consistent screening practices, validating a candidate’s previous work history and ensuring the resume accurately describes the candidate’s skills. In fact, by taking this precautionary step, employers can save themselves from potential pains down the line; for example, a candidate is selected for the job but then quits after just a short period of time. Perhaps their lack of commitment could have been revealed through a previous reference. Overall, references provide tremendous value and insight to employers because they not only can speak to the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses on the job, but they can also offer insight into soft skills (e.g., social graces, communications, personal habits).

Just as references aid an employer when making a hiring decision, fact checking and due diligence can offer additional insight for the IT professional. Once you’ve found a home that you like, you hire a home inspector to canvass the home and scrutinize every nook and cranny. They inspect the home from attic to basement to ensure it is structurally sound. IT professionals should go to the same lengths when trying to find the right job. While a job description and review of the role and responsibilities is important, gaining deeper knowledge about a potential employer is equally important. IT professionals can leverage social media channels to gather information about the company structure, philanthropy projects and to read reviews. IT professionals can also consult with a recruiter to gain insight into the company culture, team dynamics and managerial styles. Whatever the resource, it’s important for IT professionals to gather intelligence on a potential employer.

Many employers neglect to check references thoroughly and are thus unable to benefit from valuable first-hand insight into the candidate. This is another example where the recruitment firm stands out. Recruiters can take on the due diligence requirements for a hiring manager. They take the time to check references and confirm the candidate’s skills match what’s on paper, and their soft skills fit the culture of the company.

Closing the Contract: Conclusion

Realtors and real estate agents provide professional knowledge and credentials, industry expertise and experience to facilitate the home-buying process and ensure you land the right home. In the job search process, staffing and recruiting firms offer similar benefits to job seekers and hiring managers. A trusted recruitment and talent management partner can help cut through the noise and provide the best chance of finding the next job or candidate. Like real estate agents—who can communicate with both buying and selling parties to find a common ground—recruiters are in a unique position that allows them to take information from both parties to arrive at an effective match. They can help candidates funnel through the 34 average weekly solicitations to identify only the best-fit positions, and they can also save employers time by steering them away from unqualified candidates.

Recruiters also have local knowledge of salary norms, high-demand skill sets, and the qualities IT candidates are looking for in a job and employer. Similarly, by partnering with clients to find the right candidates for open positions, recruiters also have a firm grasp on what employers are looking for in candidates and the required technical and soft skills. Familiarity with both sides of the equation enables recruiters to play the role of “Realtor,” helping job seekers land positions that align with their skills, goals and interests, and helping IT leaders fill open positions with qualified candidates who are also culturally a good fit.

About TEKsystems®

People are at the heart of every successful business initiative. At TEKsystems, we understand people. Every year we deploy over 80,000 IT professionals at 6,000 client sites across North America, Europe and Asia. Our deep insights into IT human capital management enable us to help our clients achieve their business goals – while optimizing their IT workforce strategies. We provide IT staffing solutions, IT talent management expertise and IT services to help our clients plan, build and run their critical business initiatives. Through our range of quality-focused delivery models, we meet our clients where they are, and take them where they want to go, the way they want to get there.

TEKsystems. Our people make IT possible.