4 tips for optimizing IT recruitment

Onboarding the right Infrastructure and Operations personnel is a critical component of IT staffing, as the quality of I&O staff can be an important competitive differentiator for companies, according to John Rivard, research director for Infrastructure and Operations at Gartner. As outlined in a piece for CIO.com by Sharon Florentine, Rivard presented a robust IT recruitment and retention strategy that companies should follow if they want to enjoy the benefits of having top talent within their organizations.

Don’t just hire to fill a gap
Rivard stated that organizations reduce recruitment to nothing more than numbers more often than they should. However, simply filling a gap does little to advance a firm’s long-term strategy, and taking this approach may ultimately prove detrimental to the IT department as a whole.

“Every organization we talk to is having these I&O turnover issues, and we have to make them understand that tactical hiring is shortsighted,” Rivard said, as quoted by Florentine. “You have to have a long-term plan, strategize for the next 18 or 24 months at least. Just saying, ‘OK, we lost an Oracle DBA, now we have to hire another Oracle DBA to replace them’ isn’t going to get you anywhere.”

As an alternative to merely reacting to churn, Rivard suggested that firms evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their current talent, assess what can be improved and come up with proactive plans to address upcoming vacancies. In some cases, outsourcing particular tasks to third parties might prove beneficial. According to Rivard, about two-thirds of the companies that work with Gartner choose to keep I&O in-house.

Additionally, it may be prudent to delegate the task of hiring to managers working on the front lines, as these individuals have a deeper familiarity with their teams’ strengths, drawbacks and needs.

Tips for attracting top IT talent
Aspiring to attract the cream of the crop is only the first step. What can firms do to differentiate themselves from the competition?

1) Widen the search
For starters, Rivard advised organizations to broaden where they look for talent. Is your company leveraging social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Glassdoor? If not, you’re at a disadvantage.

“Employees looking to make a career change are going to use these social networks as resources, so you should, too,” Rivard says. “Social networks like these already are being leveraged by the top talent, and it’s being used to ping your current employees.”

2) Prevent stagnation
Fending off stagnation is also critical, both in terms of keeping up with the latest strategic and technological developments within the sector and maintaining employee engagement. Many workers are naturally motivated to better themselves, and positions that don’t give them the opportunity to hone their existing skills or develop new ones may cultivate a sense of dissatisfaction within the IT department and across the workforce as a whole.

“Highly engaged employees are innovative, loyal and they’re far less likely to leave,” noted Rivard.

Moreover, organizations that place a focus on augmenting the non-tech skills of employees involved in I&O – for instance, by supplying financial management training – are tightening up their own operations in the process, paving the way for efficient, educated budgetary decision-making down the line.

3) Be transparent
Sometimes, a lack of clarity regarding a position can be a turnoff for candidates. To mitigate this, firms need to be as transparent as possible. What kind of technology will your IT staff be working with? How can potential employees put their technical skills to good use within your organizational setting? What technology do you hope to integrate or augment in the future?

“[Tech workers] tend to want to know that they’ll able to get their hands on cutting-edge technology even as they progress in their career,” noted Financial News contributor Anna Irrera in a post for the media outlet’s blog, The Tally. “It’s useful to give them a clear picture of what lies ahead.”

4) Get current workers involved
Nobody knows the ins and outs of a position better than those who experience it firsthand. Companies eager to bring in top talent should use the workers already on board to gain insight that may help with next steps. Consulting existing employees is likely to yield some viable suggestions that may otherwise have been overlooked, and it will also make staff members feel valued and appreciated.

Strategic IT staffing can help companies get ahead – particularly with regard to I&O, which composes more than half of the IT budget, according to Rivard. Firms that widen the scope of their searches, take steps to ward off stagnation, maximize transparency and enlist the help of current workers are well-positioned to secure top talent.