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To optimize how organizations attract, develop and retain great IT people, it is critical to evaluate what happens at the line levels of IT and how organizations source, screen, onboard and manage their workforce. TEKsystems’ IT Talent Management Survey series provides insight into what’s on the mind of  IT leaders and IT workers alike.

Great IT is essential to business success. If IT skills remained inert, it might be easy for employers to build a strong team of IT professionals and grow from there. But IT skills are in constant evolution. Thus, the best companies invest significant time into building a competitive sourcing strategy that allows them to keep pace with change.

TEKsystems surveyed more than 2,000 IT professionals and more than 1,500 IT leaders. IT professionals provided specific insight from the employee’s perspective, and the leaders who responded provided their insight from the employer’s perspective. We asked each group to share insights on the job search and sourcing process, including where and how candidates look for jobs and what factors drive decisions around a career move. This paper explores the survey’s findings.

Need an Effective IT Sourcing Strategy

Building an effective IT sourcing strategy involves more than posting a job description online and hoping the dream candidate finds it, attaches his or her resume and hits send. To build an effective sourcing strategy, IT leaders need to understand the steps IT professionals take when they’re considering a job or career change: they reassess their skills, goals and interests; search for jobs on job boards and company websites; network with their professional peers; and research industries with a high demand for IT professionals. With this insight, IT leaders can design a sourcing strategy that keeps the employer brand visible and attractive to top IT talent.

When IT professionals look for jobs, they want to know as much as possible about each position. And they’re interested in more than a written job description and a salary range—they want details. IT job seekers want to talk with someone who takes the time to understand the kinds of positions they’re looking for, can address their questions about opportunities and help to effectively position them for their next career move.

But what busy IT hiring manager has the time to dialogue with every potential IT job seeker to this degree? Very few, if any, do. As a result, the role of the “go-between”—the recruiter—can make or break an organization’s ability to attract top professionals. Smart employers ensure they partner with smart recruiters. What’s more, they arm those recruiters with the information and insight required to attract great talent and make placements that move their business forward.

Want to Source Top IT Talent? Align with Their Process and Be Where They’re Looking

Getting to Know Me: The Importance of Self-Assessment.

The number one ranked activity IT professionals say they do when considering a job or career change is to reassess their skills, goals and interests. Organizations that want to attract the best IT professionals should follow suit. By creating a profile of the target IT employees needed—including information about job requirements and expectations, as well as values and personal qualities that are a good fit for an organization’s business and culture—IT hiring managers will improve their chances of attracting people that meet the desired mold. Candidates will also appreciate gaining insight into the culture of the organization they’re applying to, as this component plays a large role in their ultimate job satisfaction.

Getting Tactical: The Online Job Search.

IT professionals report that the second step they take when considering a job or career change is to start searching for opportunities on job boards and company websites. In fact, online job boards reportedly have the highest likelihood of use among the IT professional community, with 76 percent saying it is “extremely likely” that they will utilize this resource. Why? Because going online is one of the quickest ways for IT job seekers to feel as though they are “getting out there” and taking action.

There is a downside, though. Since so many people take this route, it is difficult for any one candidate to get noticed. It is also hard for an employer to sift through resumes to find the best fit, and only 35 percent of IT leaders agree that it is extremely likely they will use job boards when searching for candidates for an open position. Despite the fact that job boards are not the most effective recruiting channel nor the most widely used, employers should still post their job listings online. Doing so increases employers’ brand power by increasing visibility into their organization’s opportunities.

Getting Smart: Networking for Success.

Once IT professionals have reaffirmed their own goals and values, started searching online for which companies are hiring and which opportunities look most appealing, they begin searching smarter. Networking is the next step IT professionals say they take in their job search process. In addition to researching industries with a high demand for IT professionals, 84 percent of IT job searchers start reaching out to their professional networking community and the recruiters they know.

84% of IT job searchers start reaching out to their professional networking community and the recruiters they know.

To be a relevant part of this process for job seekers, employers should make a concerted effort to put brand-building efforts in place that leverage word-of-mouth referrals to identify talent. Employers can monitor word-of-mouth referrals through various branding tools. Employers can also proactively work to shape the brand-building experience through exit interviews and employee feedback that help to define and bolster their employee value proposition. Finally, employers should have a mechanism in place to build referrals—whether through recognition or rewards.

When IT Professionals Start Searching, Employers Should Engage Smart Recruiters to Find Them

When the right IT candidates come along, employers looking to fill open IT positions need to be prepared to find the best match. The majority of IT professionals say they are actively searching for new jobs on a daily or weekly basis; however, only 26 percent of IT leaders believe professionals are searching so frequently. Employers should take proper action to ensure strong candidates do not pass them by.

Recruiters are the number one relationship today’s IT professional relies on when searching for jobs. Almost 60 percent of the IT professionals we surveyed said that they consulted with recruiters the most throughout the job search, followed by friends, colleagues and their networking community.

Why are recruiters so important? A great recruiter is the ultimate matchmaker. They make it their business to intimately understand both the candidates they speak to as well as the employers who need support. The more information the recruiter seeks and discovers about both parties, the better positioned he or she is to make the perfect match. This deep access to detailed information and personal insight is very important as it helps to mitigate job seekers’ biggest challenges during the job search process.

Job Seeker Challenge #1: Inside Information About a Position/Company.

When they’re looking for their next career opportunity, IT professionals don’t just read and believe—they want to talk to someone who can give them detailed, insider information about the corporate culture and the position they’re interested in. Ninety-one percent of IT professionals say that the most helpful job resources provide a clear and realistic view of a job opportunity’s roles and responsibilities. Eighty-six percent of IT professionals say that they want the ability to have an actual dialogue about an opportunity rather than just reading about it. Great recruiters meet both needs. By engaging in detailed conversations with the hiring managers about their open positions—the business needs, the IT environment, the culture, the team dynamics—recruiters can share insight and converse with potential candidates about these positions.

86% of IT professionals say that they want the ability to have an actual dialogue about an opportunity rather than just reading about it. Great recruiters meet both needs.

Job Seeker Challenge #2: Insight into the Hiring Manager’s Priorities.

Often, IT hiring managers fall into one of two categories. Either their job descriptions are too high level and generic or they list every desired attribute and skill sought in their ideal candidate—including the kitchen sink. Nearly 80 percent of IT professionals say that a top challenge they face during the job search process is knowing exactly what the hiring company’s most important criteria are when considering candidates. A great recruiter helps alleviate this concern. By working directly with hiring managers to identify their top priorities and “must haves,” they can clearly communicate with job seekers and narrow down the candidates to a short list of the best fits.

Job Seeker Challenge #3: Getting Noticed.

With so many people using online job boards and website portals to apply to open positions, IT professionals say a top challenge is getting their resume to stand out in a crowd. Employers, too, are disadvantaged by the abundance of job applicants, as they face the difficulty of sifting through resumes to identify the best of the bunch. Since a great recruiter really knows what the hiring manager is looking for in a candidate, he or she can help the best candidates’ applications rise to the top of the pile. By performing due diligence—screening every resume for relevance, interviewing candidates face-to-face, conducting technical assessments and performing detailed, supervisory reference checks—great recruiters can come to their hiring managers with tangible proof and conviction that their candidates are indeed a perfect match.

Job Seeker Challenge #4: Feedback.

Eighty-six percent of IT professionals say obtaining feedback on their candidacy is a top difficulty during the job search process. Yet just 4 percent of IT leaders strongly believe that their companies provide feedback to candidates, validating this challenge professionals reported.

Without feedback, candidates often feel that their resumes go into a black hole, which is defeating and demoralizing—and reflects poorly on an employer’s brand. Great recruiters look out for their clients and their job applicants by working with hiring managers to set expectations about receiving feedback upfront and then by consistently gathering feedback on the candidates they submit. This step respects the candidate’s experience in the hiring process—thereby protecting the employer’s brand. It also helps to ensure the recruiter really understands what the employer is looking for.

86% of IT professionals say obtaining feedback on their candidacy is a top difficulty during the job search process.

Job Seeker Challenge #5: Sharing Relevant Opportunities.

Seventy-two percent of IT professionals report that they are challenged by the number of irrelevant solicitations they receive. They are also frustrated by the number of interviews they go through only to find out that a job is not what they thought originally. By first taking the time to get to know candidates’ skills, goals and interests, great recruiters are sure to present only those opportunities that match what IT job seekers are looking for. IT professionals see the value in having a recruiter do this for them, as 83 percent say they count on their recruiters to help them weed out irrelevant opportunities. A recruiter who treats job seekers like valued individuals and takes the time to get to know them before sharing potential opportunities, assures job seekers that recruiters are truly working in their best interests.

Recruiters and Agencies: Separating the Cream from the Crop

There are tons of recruiters and agencies out there. So how do employers select one that can help them source the best in IT? Read on for tips on how to select a recruiter who will help create a powerful sourcing strategy that attracts the best IT professionals.

Partner with Recruiters Who Share Information that Compels Job Candidates to Call Them Back.

On average, IT professionals receive 23 recruiter solicitations per week—a smart recruiter knows how to cut through the noise. Eighty-eight percent of the IT professionals we surveyed say they will return calls from recruiters if the recruiter leaves a message that includes detailed information about the job, including work roles, responsibilities and who the company stakeholders are. It’s imperative that employers partner with a recruiter who asks great questions—and many of them—so he or she can effectively present detailed information to the candidates sourced.

Partner with Recruiters Who Do Their Homework.

A smart recruiter understands the importance of doing homework on candidates before calling them. Sixty-one percent of the IT professionals we surveyed say it’s important that recruiters include details about their skills when they reach out to them. Doing so shows candidates that the recruiter cares about them and is committed to placing them in roles that fit. It also ensures that employers won’t waste time and money interviewing candidates who aren’t qualified for the positions they want to fill. Employers should pay close attention to how well their recruiter knows his or her candidates. An effective recruiter should be able to confidently articulate each candidate’s experience, previous workplaces, salary range, personality and career aspirations.

61% of IT professionals say its important that recruiters include details about their skills when they reach out to them.

Partner with Recruiters Who Work for Organizations that Have Name-Brand Recognition.

Sixty-five percent of the IT professionals we surveyed say they’ll return calls from a recruiter if the recruiter works for a high-profile, respected company. Before partnering with a recruiter, employers should make sure the recruiter works for an agency that has a proven track record. Employers should take the time to look up the potential recruiter’s agency on websites, look at the advertising they do and look for direct feedback from other clients and candidates who have worked with their agency.

Partner with Recruiters Who Know that Referrals Are the Best Source for Great Candidates.

Research shows that referrals are the number one source of successful placements, and 87 percent of IT leaders reported that they are likely to source from referrals when searching for candidates. Interestingly, IT professionals report that, on average, they have 10 people in their personal networks who 1) share their skill set and 2) they would recommend for a job. Great recruiters know how to tap into referral networks and leverage trusted or proven IT talent to gain access to other credible contacts. They also understand that in order to get referrals from candidates, they need to demonstrate that they care about the consultant experience as much as the client’s. Employers should always be asking their recruiters about their sourcing strategies and how they tap into IT job seekers’ networks for referrals.

Partner with Recruiters Who Will Help Build a Quality EVP.

IT professionals report that the employee value propositions (EVP) they look for include a variety of attributes. By digging in and learning more about the organization, a great recruiter can identify the best and most dominant traits of the client’s EVP and work with them to help ensure they are at least competitive in other areas. Employers should gauge how deeply their recruiter probes into the factors that make the organization a great place to work. By asking the right questions, a recruiter will help employers to source candidates who understand their EVP and are committed to building careers in their organization.

What Areas of an EVP Stand Out the Most?

A powerful EVP helps organizations attract and appeal to the best candidates out there. Yet only 8 percent of IT leaders strongly agree that their company has a strong, well-defined employee value proposition. The following are several key factors that IT professionals look for and should thus be considered when crafting an EVP.

Opportunities for Career Development.

Eighty-one percent of IT professionals say that career development and advancement are their number one concerns that would impact their decision to stay with their current employer or look elsewhere. Yet, IT leaders believe compensation and benefits to be the biggest factors, placing career development and advancement lower on the list of candidate priorities. In order to retain great IT, employers also need to think about how they will supply training and development opportunities through formal courses and on-the-job projects and rotations. Additionally, since 80 percent of IT workers also say that they plan to advance within one to five years, a great recruiter will work with the employer to identify the skills built into given roles and how those skills will prepare candidates to assume new roles and more responsibilities.

Compensation.

Eighty percent of the IT professionals we surveyed say that compensation is top of mind when they’re applying for jobs. And the majority of them expect a six to 20 percent increase in pay when they make a move. That’s why it’s so important for employers to tap into recruiter expertise when they’re establishing salaries. The best recruiters don’t rely solely on rate cards, which are typically drastically different by location, tend to be based on self-reported data and can vary widely in terms of roles and responsibilities for the same titles at different companies. Instead, a great recruiter will help advise employers on what IT professionals in the local market are earning for certain skill sets and will be honest about how salaries compare.

Work/Life Balance.

Balancing work demands with personal obligations, goals and interests is not easy. According to our survey, 71 percent of IT professionals attempt to gain some equilibrium between work and life by considering commute and location when they’re searching for jobs. The majority say that they want to work within 40 minutes of their homes and 52 percent say that flexible schedules are important to them. Great recruiters, therefore, must have a robust local market network to source candidates in nearby areas.

71% of IT professionals consider commute and location when they’re searching for jobs.

Conclusion

Every competitive organization requires top IT talent—and fast—to keep up with the pace of business. Great recruiters know where the best IT professionals are, how to engage them and how to screen for a perfect fit in any organization. They also know that when it comes to making a quality match between an individual and an organization, employers can’t and shouldn’t fully automate the process. Skilled IT professionals want details, they want a dialogue and they want feedback that respects their time and effort in the job search process. By partnering with a great recruiter, organizations will not only ensure that they hire top IT talent but also ensure that the new hires will be a good technical, business and cultural fit—and will remain with the company long term.

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.