The race to hire top IT talent hit a new level last year, and it’s about to get even more competitive. CareerBuilder’s 2015 job forecast found that 54 percent of employers surveyed plan to hire full-time permanent IT employees, up from 29 percent in 2014.
Although the competition for top talent may lead recruiters to snatch up the first interested programmer with vaguely relevant experience, finding the right candidate for the position is more important than ever.
Here are five unwritten rules for finding and retaining great programming talent:
1. Assess aptitude.
With the traditional resume and interview recruiting process, getting a clear indication of a candidate’s abilities can be challenging. Resumes can be misleading and bias can corrupt subjective analysis. In fact, the 2014 HireRight Employment Screening Benchmark Report of more than 3,000 talent management and security professionals revealed 88 percent of respondents who reported screening uncovered the person in question lied on their resume.
When recruiters do eventually hire a candidate after searching through hundreds of resumes, they sometimes find the employee isn’t a good fit for the position or the company culture. To find the best programming talent, incorporate objective assessment criteria into the recruitment process. At Andela, we work with Plum, a firm that moves beyond the resume to assess attitude and aptitude. Plum analyzes the top skills needed for an open position and then evaluates candidates for those qualities. The service assesses skills like communication, work ethic and problem solving to determine the candidates who best fit the job.
2. Establish a culture that embraces remote hiring.
Recruiting is no longer limited by location. Smartphones, tablets, and endless apps allow remote workers to connect and work with teams any time, any place. In their book Remote, 37Signals founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson explain that limiting hiring to one geographic region means recruiters are missing out on the best talent. They argue that employees and employers can successfully work together from any location.
Don’t limit the search for quality candidates to the local talent pool—the right programmer for the job may not live nearby. Use job-listing services like We Work Remotely to reach a larger hiring pool.
3. Look for talent in areas with a large amount of people but few opportunities.
Up and coming IT markets may be the best places to look for great programming talent. For example, we source much of our talent from the most populous countries in Africa. The growing IT industry combined with the vast population in these countries allows us to be selective with our aptitude and attitude criteria scores and still have many candidates to choose from. Look to fill positions in areas where the talent pool is large and hungry for new opportunities.
4. Don’t underestimate the value of junior hires.
Hiring IT positions is competitive, and finding experienced candidates with the right skills is challenging. So, look for aptitude and potential, not just experience. Programmers can often learn the specific skills needed for a position, complete on-the-job training and absorb lessons from peers and mentors. On the other hand, skills like leadership, teamwork and problem-solving are hard to teach, so keep an eye out for individuals who possess them. They are likely to grow into valuable team members, no matter how much experience they have.
5. Be mission-driven.
In the competitive market for IT talent, candidates have their pick of firms and positions. With similar salary and benefits offers, corporate cultures and missions are often bigger factors in a person’s job decision. To stand out from competitors jockeying for the same talent, highlight the company's mission and how the candidate will help contribute to it.
Hiring top technical talent will never be easy, but these rules will make it easier.