In Today’s IT Channel, Finding People with the Right Tech Skills is Just the Beginning

Recently, I was having lunch with the CEO of an IT security company, and we were talking about what she really needs in IT staff. “Let me tell you what I don’t need,” she said. “I don’t need somebody who will work 9:00 to 5:00 and go home thinking that his or her day is done. I don’t need somebody who is going to hide behind a computer. What I do need are people who will give everything they have to my company and my end clients.”

Every staffing client I talk to these days is trying to find people with more than technology skills. They need well-rounded team players, people with good attitudes, people who show initiative and take responsibility. Of course, they want people with the right technical experience, but they also are looking for people who are not afraid to take their IT skills to the next level.

At the same time, with the increasing amount of client interaction in the IT channel, communications skills have taken on tremendous importance.

Key Elements of a Successful IT Talent Search

Every IT project and program is different. This sets up the broad parameters of the talent search. First, the recruiter must find a candidate whose experience is the closest possible fit to the required technical skill. If the need is for someone who is an expert in data storage, for example, then there is no point in looking at a systems engineer.

But a successful IT talent search must also drill down deeper to find the right fit culturally as well as technically. In addition to “hard” technical skills, recruiters must also be on the lookout for critically important “soft” intangible skills, such as demonstrated initiative and willingness to take responsibility. For many IT companies, intangibles such as these are often just as important as tangible tech experience.

Meanwhile, technology is changing so rapidly that the employers are increasingly looking beyond hard technical skills to an employee’s attitude toward professional growth and technical advancement. In today’s IT channel, there is an increasing need for practitioners who not only have the requisite technology smarts, but also the willingness to learn more. These are the IT pros who know that the more they grow, the more valuable and indispensable they become.

The recruiter must also make sure that the person has the required security clearance or clearances for that particular work space. Often, a candidate with all the needed technical skills on his or her resume will not be a good fit because of issues related to background and security checks.

In the long run, attitude can be everything when it comes to finding the best IT talent fit. Tech firms really do need people who create a positive work environment for everyone around them.

Finding “The Best of the Best”

I talk to CEOs all the time who say, “We just can’t find good people.” Why is that? It’s because the best people are not on the Internet job boards; the A players are working.

The truth is, most companies can’t do this alone. To find the “best of the best” IT talent, most companies need a partnership with an experienced staffing company – a company that has the savvy and commitment to deliver not only what the client needs in IT talent but also what is desired.

Because external IT staffing firms are paid to find the A players, they make it their business to know who the top people are and how to find them. The best staffing companies have their own proprietary applicant tracking systems using specialized database software to harvest cream-of-the-crop talent from many different sources.

A top-flight recruiting firm also knows that while it is critically important to understand the client’s technical needs, it is also essential to conduct thorough face-to-face interviews with each candidate to ensure all the other intangibles match as closely as possible. In addition, an excellent staffing company will verify not only security clearances, but all other aspects of the candidate’s background. There is a huge difference between simply sending resumes and thoroughly vetting candidates.

What’s the bottom line on finding top tech talent? More often than not, a staffing company will find better quality candidates – and, in the long run, do it less expensively. Premier firms will even offer a “try before you buy” guarantee, so if an applicant does not work out within 30 days, he or she will be replaced.

The choice for IT executives is to pay now for the right tech talent solution, or pay later for talent that doesn’t pan out.