Hiring: Smart Companies Get Aggressive
How many top IT positions do you plan to fill this week? (And, no, that is not a set-up for a joke.) Listen to Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, general manager at Learning@Cisco, the group responsible for professional development and certification: We intend to be aggressive about hiring. If anything we will be increasing our hiring. We believe this climate is very good for hiring top people.
Let that sink in and, while youre at it, know that Cisco is not alone in believing that the current marketplace is ideal for cherry-picking talent. Lali Dhingre, president of NIIT Technologies, an outsourcer with some 10,000 employees in 44 countries, said now is the right time to be hiring the right IT staff.
Isnt this crazy? Just about everywhere, IT hiring is entering a deep freeze and, in many companies, the coolest, cutting-edge projects are on hold because, quite simply, a stumbling economy encourages IT spending frugality. Thats right so far, but a profoundly counterintuitive message coming out of at least some companies is that this is a good time to be hiring IT talent, said Curt Sterling, a partner in IT staffing company Cydio Group.
There are three big reasons for this contrarian point of view and only the first has to do with finding gems among IT workers who have been laid off in the downturn. But lets start there anyway:
Good people are getting laid off and if you have openings, you will see many applicants, said Donna James, SVP of Accent Global System Architects, which lately has been hiring IT staff because the company won a sizable federal government contract. James added that it is easy to be picky now. We are interviewing 10 to 15 people for every position. She also adds a caveat: desperate candidates are stretching their resumes; perhaps claiming credentials they dont truly possess or wildly exaggerating job responsibilities. So thorough vetting is more necessary than ever. Do that, however, and James insists there are a lot of very talented people looking for work.
Sure, there is skepticism that quality performers can be found among ITs fired and, in that regard, it is true that we have not seen significant staff cuts in larger companies, said Michael Winwood, president of Technisource, an IT recruiting firm. But smaller companies have been making deeper, broader and more indiscriminate cuts and, for diligent hunters, there are indeed good hires to be had.
Bargain Hunting Prevails
Some candidates will even take a pay cut today, said
Top talent may particularly be restless. Take advantage of IT delays at other companies and know that every stalled project at other organizations gives you the chance to snag top talent, said Barbato. Picture an IT hotshot who is brought in to oversee a companys cloud computing initiative, which gets put on hold, and hes told he has been moved over to working on IT infrastructure. His first and immediate thought: how do I get out of here! They want to be involved in exciting IT projects and even people who arent job-hoppers now will think about moving for an exciting opportunity, said Barbato.
The bottom line is this is an ideal time to strengthen your staff. If you want to gain a competitive advantage, do the opposite of what everybody else is doing, said Ciscos Beliveau-Dunn. To us, a time like this is an ideal time to invest in people who are not ordinarily available.
Do that and what happens is this: viral marketing will kick in, youll get a reputation as the place to want to work, said Barbato. IT is a team activity and the best IT people want to surround themselves with other top performers. The more you do the right things, the more viral hiring becomes for you, the easier it gets to attract top candidates. Its really that simple.