Beyond the Classifieds

Aug 25, 2006

Katherine Spencer Lee

What a difference two years make. The last time Carol Chang sought additional personnel for her IT department, in 2004, the greatest challenge was finding the time to sort through the mound of resumes that arrived.

Now, she’s wondering where all the qualified candidates have gone.

Finding skilled IT talent—particularly those with specialized expertise—can require extra effort today due to increased hiring activity nationwide. Basic recruitment strategies, such as placing classified ads, don’t always yield the desired results.

To locate just the right people for your job openings, you may need to broaden your search. Following are some creative ways to do just that:

Seek specialized sources. Large job fairs based at local colleges or convention centers may be useful, but with so many other companies participating, yours could get lost in the crowd.

You may have better results attending specialized job fairs, such as those targeted to minorities, welfare-to-work program participants and industry association members. Smaller events frequently provide greater opportunities to meet one-on-one with attendees and promote your job openings.

Offer your knowledge. You don’t necessarily need to wave a “we’re hiring” sign every time you’re near potential candidates to attract them. Often, simply talking about your company and sharing your expertise at industry functions can build interest from prospective applicants.

For example, you might request to deliver a presentation about careers in IT to a local student group or talk about the challenges your firm has faced with a particular application at a user group meeting. Writing articles for local technology publications or associations also can generate inquiries from IT professionals.

Seek the spotlight. If your IT team is doing something noteworthy—sponsoring a charity’s upgrade of its computer network and managing the implementation, for instance—consider letting the media know.

Sometimes local newspapers and TV stations will cover stories about companies involved with unique projects, particularly efforts that make a difference in the community.

Sending announcements of new hires and promotions within your department to print media also may generate coverage in the business section and show prospective employees the advancement opportunities that exist within your firm.

The more people hear of your company, the more interest you may receive from candidates.

Stand out online. If you’re simply posting a list of job openings on your company website, you may leave prospective applicants with a “ho-hum” impression. Instead, you want to call attention to the IT department and stress the reasons a potential employee would want to work for your organization.

You might create an interesting link, such as “Ten Reasons to Join Our IT Team,” as a way to generate enthusiasm about applying for positions with your group.

Enlist existing employees. Your staff can be an excellent source for candidate referrals. Offering referral bonuses can prompt employees to think about contacts who would be a good fit for your openings.

If you’re trying to fill a position quickly or need to find an in-demand skill set, though, you may want to be more creative with incentives.

For instance, you might enter everyone who recommends an IT professional into a raffle for a weekend getaway or additional vacation days. Giving employees a compelling reason to think about candidate referrals can jump-start their efforts.

Take a look at your current recruitment strategies and consider whether there may be more creative ways to approach the process. Sometimes just one or two changes can make all the difference. By expanding your methods of locating IT talent, you increase your chances of finding the best professionals for your openings.

Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multi-platform systems integration to network engineering and technical support. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations in the North America and Europe, and offers online job search services at


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