Tech & Work

Members sound off on the trials of working with HR

Many IT managers get frustrated when trying to work with the Human Resources department to find new talent. You don't have to write HR off completely, though. Here are some member takes on working with HR during the hiring process.

Is the Human Resources department the bane of IT? Many hiring managers seem to think so. Getting nontechnical people to understand and look for the work qualities that you need in a candidate can be very frustrating for an IT manager. Even worse, many HR departments are utilizing resume-filtering software that could inadvertently eliminate a good prospect, making finding the right person for a job an even tougher proposition.

In a recent NetNote, we asked TechRepublic members their thoughts on working with HR.

Member CharlieG has experienced frustration with HR from both sides of the process. "Early in my career, I was of the opinion that if I could make it past HR, I could get the job," CharlieG said. The filtering software some HR departments use "results in such a mish-mash of nonsense that a functional resume is nearly useless,unless you can get it in front of hiring managers who know what they are looking for."

As a hiring manager, CharlieG’s number one problem was fighting his own HR department. "I cannot think of a more difficult heuristic programming task than parsing English into meaningful data. And keying in buzzwords just doesn’t get it."

Over the course of her career, member kethry127 has been interviewed by HR for IT jobs, has been a hiring manager who used HR to do initial screenings, and has been a hiring manager who didn’t need to go through HR. As a whole, she has found "HR woefully inadequate at understanding both IT skill sets and jargon."

JohnHillen thinks the problem lies in the fact that "HR often tries to apply traditional restrictions on these positions that do not apply—years of experience, degrees, certifications. These are negotiable from my perspective, but HR is painfully inflexible."

Making the most of the HR situation
So should an IT manager try to circumvent HR? No, according to VRobbins. "HR departments are another IT customer,” said VRobbins. “Therefore, it's critical that we find ways to work with them that make us part of the process, so they'll be more willing to be part of our process." VRobbins does this by working with HR to "understand all of their rules and how to work them so we're both happy. Doing this, I was able to hire 22 people in 90 days. All but two of the hires were great."

Member Angelo suggests that, instead of trying to change HR, try to take charge of your own situation. Angelo’s offers these tips:
  • Make sure that your job requirements/description is well-written to the point that HR can turn it into the checklist they desire to use.
  • Offer to lend a hand in screening potential candidates.
  • See if you can get a single HR person to handle all your group/office/division IT hirings. Then that one person can build knowledge about IT and get comfortable with what he or she needs to do.
  • Don't think of each hiring situation as, "Well, here we go again." Think of it as another opportunity to get what you want and contribute to make it go more smoothly.

Instead of writing HR off completely when it comes to finding the right talent for your IT organization, you can take measures to guide the selection process your way. These tips should help get you started in the right direction.


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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