06 Mar 2013

6 tips on hiring the right IT staff

With IT budgets under pressure, you have to make every new hire count. How can you make sure you hire people with skills and traits that will give you the edge through 2013 and beyond, and keep the good staff you’ve already got? Look within Hiring is an expensive, time-consuming process that still delivers a relatively unknown quantity in the hired employee. If there’s someone within the company who can upskill and will thrive in the position that’s vacant, you should promote them. You’ll retain someone you know already works well within the business, earn their gratitude and loyalty, and increase morale in the rest of the workforce because you’re hired from within. Outsource the grunt work Using managed services or outsourcing basic systems maintenance and support means your in-house staff are free to concentrate on the meatier, more satisfying jobs that drive your business. Not only will this make your staff happier, more productive and more likely to stick around, it also means that the people with the best knowledge of your business (your staff) are contributing most to it, while highly-trained experts are taking care of your essential system maintenance. Do your homework Screen a large number of applicants with brief phone interviews so you’re not stuck with face-to-face interviews for days. Take an interest in applicants who contact you directly, as well as those that come through job-listing services and recruitment agencies. Try to get a feel for people’s personalities and strengths on the phone, as well as just checking your wish-list. Look outside IT It seems counter-intuitive that you’d look outside of IT for staff in your department, but if you’re hiring high-level data analysts, you want them to have more than IT skills. Consider looking at candidates who have backgrounds in statistics, actuarial skills or pure maths. They can be trained in IT, and the skills they already have are going to be increasingly in-demand as big data explodes over the next ten years. Be flexible Your wish-list for skills, certifications and experience is just that – a wish-list. Hiring is an expensive and disruptive process, and there’s little point dragging it out because you’re waiting for the super-candidate to appear. It’s fine to cast a wide net, but you have to work with the skills and people available in the market, so be ready to concede on some points if there’s someone with most of what you want who’ll fit in well with the company. Have a proper discussion Once you’re talking to the people you’re genuinely interested in – ideally, no more than two or three rounds into the process – make the interview count. Do your research on the person’s background and speak to the last person to interview them, if it wasn’t you. Have a substantial discussion – one that will enable you to tell not only if they’re right for the job description, but right for the company.