Finding and Losing the Perfect Candidate

attract talentThe Dow has surpassed 15,000 points, the housing industry seems to be on the rebound and economists are finally deciding to concur that it’s safe to say we’re coming out of the Great Recession. What’s wrong with saying all economic fronts are good? Companies are starting to hire but many of the methods utilized to source candidates in 2008 aren’t working as well today. There’s no concrete answer to complete this equation but there are several derivatives that negatively affect hiring and retaining top IT talent.

Let’s start with management. Many don’t realize that the unemployment rate for IT employees is hovering around 1 percent and think that hiring practices that worked five years ago will still work today. Nothing could be farther from the truth. An IT executive I’ve been dealing with for several years said recently that he had a recent mass exodus within his group. When I delved into why they left, the common theme was money. When he wanted to start looking for similar talent, I asked him what his compensation range was. It was $15,000-25,000 less than what comparable companies were willing to pay. Candidates are savvy and realizing that this is quickly turning into a sellers’ market.

To drive that point home, Staffing Industry Analysts recently conducted a survey and concluded that 74 percent of IT employees are either actively or passively engaged in a job search. The lack of fear of a home to go to and the lure of more income is incentive enough for many to realize that the grass could be greener on the other side.

Another mainstay for losing out on top candidates is a lax hiring process. Many companies have the mentality that they’ve been able to do more with less and have taken this reasoning over finding new employees to fill out their rosters. For instance, I can remember when a phone screen would suffice for a contract role. Those days are long gone, with many companies requiring an initial, technical phone screen; an in-person, committee interview; submitting technical documentation; having one more interview with the executive team and a reference check. In a perfect world, that’s great, but other companies are realizing that there’s a talent shortage and are proactively bringing that same candidate on board while their competitors are midway through their vetting process. The advice I got from a mentor when I first joined the staffing industry still holds true: Time kills all deals.

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A third reason that candidates are leaving positions they’ve been mired in for years are because they feel a lack of appreciation. For instance, several high-end technical resources were convinced they were lucky to have a job, going multiple years without a raise and taking on the responsibilities of discarded employees as well. Companies have to realize they have well-trained, productive employees working with them every day. How can they reinforce their appreciation? Some methods would include raising their incomes to competitive levels, raising head count to pre-recession levels (to take work stress off of overworked employees), providing promotions as well as asking valued employees for input on how to make their positions and the company’s direction move more positively would all be a good start.

These ideas aren’t designed to be an elixir to fix the problems that are being regularly encountered but a good starting point to initiate positive dialogue.

MORE: How to Lose a Candidate in 10 Days

Michael Barefoot
Michael Barefoot is senior account executive at Red Zone Resources. He can be reached at mikeb (at ) redzoneresources (dot) com.

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