Hiring Plans Make all the Difference

Dec 17, 2004

Chris Egizi

The good news: as companies resume investing in technology, personnel budgets are being beefed up to allow IT departments to expand their staffs.

The bad news: IT managers, already struggling to keep up with additional demands on over-burdened teams, must figure out how to navigate the hiring maze quickly, effectively and efficiently.

One of two scenarios typically plays out when it's time to hire IT personnel: hiring managers post positions or place ads and launch blindly into the interview process, or they turn to a staffing firm with the idea that recruiters will do the heavy lifting and the right candidate will magically appear.

The problem with either scenario is that hiring managers risk missing out on the best candidates because they don't have a clear understanding of precisely what or who they need. Conversely, ideal candidates get frustrated because they either can't get a clear handle on what the hiring manager is looking for or because they are left cooling their heels while the hiring manager deals with more urgent day-to-day needs.

The solution is to develop a well-defined hiring plan before placing that first ad or approaching a staffing company. In fact, a hiring plan can help maximize internal resources by identifying under-utilized talent that already exists within a company.

The first, most critical, step is to define exactly what your team needs, look at strengths and weaknesses and define skill gaps that, if filled, would round out the team: Is your development team overwhelmed and are permanent personnel needed to ease the burden? If so, what specific skills should you add to maximize your team's abilities? Or do you really just need specific skills for a particular project; skills that will no longer be needed once that project is complete? And what kind of personality will mesh best with your existing team, whether on a temporary or permanent basis?

In other words, go beyond general definitions to identify what you need very specifically by skills, personality, etc.

Next, look at what internal resources, if any, are available.

Particularly in bigger companies, there are often multiple teams with the same skill sets. When one group gets busy, another may be slow enough to share some resources. Without a solid process to manage those internal resources, the busy team often winds up bringing in outside consultants when the talent they need is just one floor down.

Charging one person with managing internal resources -- knowing which team is busy and which is not -- can ultimately save money by eliminating the need for external consultants while at the same time filling team gaps more quickly by tapping resources that are already part of the company.

This sort of human capital management also results in higher employee satisfaction because it makes staff feel they are significant contributors to the overall team.

Once the decision is made to hire from the outside, it's important to brief everyone who will be involved in the process to ensure they are aware of their roles and the time frames. This applies whether you handle the process internally or choose to work with a staffing firm.

Consider this: You're a candidate who has passed the first interview with flying colors. The position and company appear to be an ideal fit, and the next step is to interview with the IT director. But the IT director is out of town or his or her calendar isn't accessible so the second interview can't be schedule anytime in the near future. What if you're entertaining other opportunities? How long would you wait?

Too often, good candidates may withdraw themselves from consideration because other companies they are talking with are able to move faster. They may also get frustrated when the process stalls and view that as an indication of a corporate culture that lacks a results orientation.

We've actually had companies come back four months after interviewing someone wanting to offer them a position, only to be surprised when that person is no longer available!

When it comes to the hiring process, perception on the part of the candidates is everything. If they don't think the company or department is in control of its own hiring processes, red flags will go up and it's unlikely they will wait around for the offer to be made.

Clearly defined needs, coordination with everyone involved in the hiring process and a set hiring date ensure that quality candidates will move efficiently through the system, ending the "ordeal" for both you and them as quickly as possible.

One additional note about the importance of a well-defined hiring plan: If you have opted to work with a staffing firm remember that the staffing firm must act as the intermediary between you and the potential hire.

To maximize the relationship, you should be prepared to present the recruiter with your hiring plan before the first candidate is ever considered. Good recruiters should also be willing and able to help you refine your hiring process and help you set realistic goals, such as salary and the availability of the skill sets you need.

The best recruiters have their fingers on the pulse of the local industry and talent pool. This expedites by pre-qualifying candidates, eliminating the need for you to interview individuals who aren't the right fit for any number of reasons.

Regardless of the path you take to expand your IT staff, an established process for identifying internal resources and a well-defined hiring plan can maximize efficiency and enhance your chances of making the right hire to fill your needs.

Chris Egizi is vice president, Technology Consulting Services with Kforce Technology Staffing, a division of Kforce, Inc..


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