Posted by Neil Owen on 14 February 2017
The global technology sector continues to advance at an ever increasing rate. New innovative technologies, software programmes, platforms and apps that hold the potential to reshape the market are being announced every single day.
As the UK's technology sector continues to go from strength to strength, the demand for technology and digital professionals remains high. In fact, demand for specialist skills that help companies stay on top of the latest technology trends is growing faster than new talent is entering the labour market.
This has very real implications on the hiring process, with organisations in the technology space increasingly feeling like they need to make compromises in their hires. Recent research revealed that three out of four IT hires don't meet the technical skill-level expected by CIOs and IT directors.
As the war for talent rages on, employers who want to make meaningful hires will need to rethink their hiring approach and redefine their expectations. Rather than waiting for the perfect candidate with the perfect skill set, companies should look for IT professionals who showcase the propensity to succeed in the role and with the company over the long-term. For example, candidates who can show evidence of adapting-to and becoming adept in new technologies quickly.
However, this doesn't mean that the tried-and-tested ways of assessing candidates should go out the window completely. With an appreciation of current market dynamics it provides an opportunity to find an innovative way of screening for high-potential candidates.
Why the perfect candidate might not necessarily be the best candidate for your organisation
In our research CIOs and IT directors highlighted the criteria below in defining whether an IT professionals holds a desired skill set:
- Qualifications: The majority of CIOs and IT directors still find this a key benchmark for when reviewing applications. Formal qualifications by independent bodies, like university degrees or industry training courses, can ensure that candidate has the fundamental knowledge necessary for the role
- Tenure: Check how long a candidate has been in the industry and what jobs they've held before. Without the necessary skill set and technical knowledge, people won't be able to progress their careers. Look out for job hopping and extended periods of unemployment on their CV as a key indicator for long-term commitment issues and a wavering approach to skills development
- Portfolio: Experienced technology professionals will inevitably have built a work portfolio over the years. When interviewing candidates, ask for examples of past projects or campaigns which highlights their technical skills and proficiency with software language they've worked on as proof points of their skills.
- Standardised skills testing: Surprisingly, less than half of CIOs and IT directors rely on independent skills assessment when interviewing candidates. Especially for critical hires, these tests can be invaluable in ensuring the candidate has the desired skill-level and provide additional guidance on how suitable their skill set actually is for your organisation
While these criteria might help organisations quantify what tangible skills a candidate holds, they don't necessarily highlight whether or not the candidate has the right aptitude or would be a good fit for a company. In times of acute talent shortages, businesses should also keep the following soft skills in mind when interviewing a potential IT candidate:
- Willingness to develop: While a candidate might bring a particular skill set to the table that is relevant to your business right now, you wouldn't want your future employee to coast and simply rely on past accomplishments for the rest of their career. Find out how willing they are to develop new skill sets, some of which might even be outside their current remit. Strong candidates will be interested in continuous personal development, or at least be open to learning new skills
- Ability to learn: In addition to being open to developing new skills, candidates also need to be able to acquire these skills. Engage in a conversation with your candidate about what current skills they might have acquired in their past jobs and how quickly they got up to speed. Ask for specific examples of how they dealt with the challenges of learning new skills and the level of support they required.
- Cultural fit: Nearly as important as any form of qualification or past experience are a candidate's personality, emotional intelligence, relationship management and interpersonal skills. These will ultimately determine how well a future employee will fit into the current company culture. This goes both ways as the job on offer and the candidate need to be right for each other. Employees that are happy and feel their job is fulfilling are often more productive, which also helps boost staff motivation. While often overlooked, this is an important factor that should be an integral part of the hiring process right from the start.
Note: This article was originally published on Information Age