Tech & Work

Strategies for recruiting IT talent

The competition for talented IT employees is fierce. Here are some tips for getting the right people to join your team.


One of the toughest issues facing IT departments is recruiting talented technology professionals. In this article, we’ll look at some major points you should consider for your recruiting strategy.

How do you find top talent? Many organizations have different strategies. Some use local classified ads in the newspaper, while others believe their best investment is an online arena. Where you find your talent depends on your criteria. The same criteria will help drive the rest of your strategy.

To Web or not to Web?
If the question is whether you should advertise on the Web, the answer is maybe. If it’s free, then it can’t hurt. But, if you’re paying a premium, you should consider the pros and cons. While the Web is great for selling products the world over, it’s not the best device for hiring people for local jobs.

If you’re looking for the best candidate and are willing to fork over relocation fees or hire telecommuters, the Web can be a powerful recruiting tool. On the other hand, if you’re not going to pay relocation expenses but you want someone in the office every day, you’re probably better off hiring locally—which in most towns means using the newspaper classifieds.

This brings me to my next point. If you’re recruiting for someone in Poughkeepsie, New York, you probably shouldn’t build a criterion to look for someone in Argentina. In fact, you’d probably do better looking closer to home. Keep in mind the scope of your search and what you’d be willing to pay to help someone relocate.

Hire from within
With IT professionals moving so frequently, you should look internally to see who’s happy and who could be happier. Often, bored or burned out employees can be polished and renewed simply by promoting or migrating them to new positions. Plus, you’ll save advertising budget money.

Word of mouth
Tell everyone you know that you’re hiring. Not only will you gain free publicity for the company and for the position, but you’ll likely find good candidates. You’ll also get a more personal reference to help you decide if the candidate is right for the position.

Numbers speak louder than words
Include a salary range. This helps in two ways. First, it tells the candidate what you are willing to pay, which helps filter out anyone who is above your salary range. Second, it attracts people. I know I respond to an ad much more favorably if I know what it pays.

Require skills, but not every skill
Too many ads list too many required skills. If you’re overly verbose about the required skills, you run the risk of scaring away quality candidates. Most technology professionals want to be challenged in their new position. If you hire someone who has all the skills you need and they are not challenged to build new skills, chances are the person will leave within a short period of time. Instead, list the essential skills required to handle the position.

Don’t leggo the logo
Technology professionals often have a sensing preference. This means they prefer to gather information using their senses rather than their intuition. Put a logo or graphic in your ad to get their attention. If your ad looks like text and rambles on, it will be boring. Worse, it could talk them out of the position if it lists skills they don’t yet have.

Fewer options
Keep their options to a minimum. You want them to read the ad and send their resume to you. Don’t give them options to call, e-mail, fax, visit the Web site, and so on. Any technology professional who can’t e-mail his resume to you is probably not someone you want to hire. Plus, any worthwhile technologist can figure out that if your e-mail address is hr@wherever.com, then your Web site is probably www.wherever.com.

Space, the final frontier
If you look in any newspaper’s classified section, you’ll notice ads that have more space than text are increasingly prominent. Why? Because it’s not the norm. You don’t need to fill all the space you’ve bought with rambling prose about the merits of your company. Stick to simple bullet points, and use the space to draw attention to your ad.

Brian Schaffner is the director of Information Technology for Directec Corporation. Before assuming his current role, his career path included LAN Administrator, to Senior Developer, to Manager of Internet Services.

If you’d like to comment on this article or share your own advice for recruiting IT talent, please post a comment below or follow this link to write to Brian.

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