IT Employment optimize

What to do when you can't find qualified staff

How might you be able to go about meeting critical organizational needs when you're having trouble finding well-qualified staff? Here are five actions you might take, although there are pros and cons for each.

Recently, I wrote a post here at TechRepublic outlining the skills that are in demand as surveyed by the company eLance.  The unfortunate fact for CIOs facing skills challenges is this: Work still has to get done.  It's one thing if your company refuses to adequately fund staff positions to meet ongoing workload demands; in these situations, it's only reasonable to push back to ensure that the work that can get done gets done well.  However, when the company is willing to spend the money, CIOs may be hard pressed to push back even if the skills are tough to find.  So, how might you be able to go about meeting critical organizational needs when you're having trouble finding well-qualified staff?  Here are five actions you might take, although there are pros and cons for each.

Do a real market assessment

Most organizations have salary schedules that define how much each position or position classification will make.  In many places, these schedules are used to maintain salary equity between employees.  The honest truth, however, is that some jobs are worth more than others.  If you find yourself not able to attract reasonable talent to a position, reconsider your salary schedule to make sure that you're payment a reasonable market rate for that position.  Use sites like salary.com and glassdoor.com to help you determine what you should be paying.

Downside: You may have to pay more to get the skills you want.

Refine the necessary skills section of the job

I've seen job descriptions in ads in which the company is looking for a person that can be a one-man IT shop, requiring skills from decoding TCP/IP packets to being an expert in .NET development to having mastered every version of Exchange since 5.5 to having mastered every programming language under the sun including COBOL.  It's no wonder that these companies have trouble finding people that they feel are qualified for the position at hand.

If this is your company, scale it back! Focus on the essentials only.

I know that this seems like common sense, but it's still amazing how much some jobs try to cram into a single position.

Downside: You may not get all of the skills you want in a single position.

Look to your local college

So after adjusting your salary and ensuring that the job description is laser focused on the necessary skills, you might still really have difficulty finding help.  You might consider turning to your local college or university to help you.  There is a whole lot of raw talent in many computer science programs that can be tapped to help.  Further, you might consider setting up a formal program with the college so that students can work through your company as a part of their degree.  These kinds of practice-based initiatives can be incredibly powerful for students, too, as they get officially exposed to the real world.  This program could turn into an effective feeder for your company.

Downside: You will frequently have to "reset" the skill set as new students rotate through the program and each student will start at a very different skill level.  It could require significant effort to administer.

Consider offshoring

If you're willing to go international, you can probably find the skills that you need somewhere and at a price you can afford.  You might consider a site such as eLance or guru.com to help you identify resources that can be of assistance.

Downsides: People that are not a part of your team may not be as invested in the outcomes.  International coordination carries with it challenges related to time zones and possible language and cultural barriers, although many companies that provide these kinds of services have solved these issues over the years.

Further, any time you outsource, there needs to be more up front planning than you might otherwise have to worry about with an internal resource.  That said, this might be a good thing as it can help prevent project scope creep from dooming your efforts.

Consider onshoring

If you would rather stay a bit more local, but outsourcing is still something you would consider, take a look at some of the "onshoring" companies that have popped up in recent years.  Last year, I wrote about my own experience with a company called Rural Sourcing.  Onshoring companies can often provide services even in areas that require skills sets that are hard to find and these companies are often less expensive than consultants that provide similar services.  The reason: Many of these companies settle in smaller communities with lower costs of living, enabling them to pay people a bit less.  This savings is passed along in the form of lower service rates.

Downsides: Again, you need to carefully coordinate these external resources to make sure that the external team integrates well with your internal one and you will need to ensure that project specifications are tightly defined.

Summary

It can be really hard to find good people to fill open slots.  When your company needs to get something done, but the job market doesn't seem to be producing good candidates, make sure that salary and job descriptions aren't working against you and, if everything there is in order, consider various methods by which you might bring in internal resources to fill the gap.

Do you have other ideas that have worked for your company?

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

48 comments
duckboxxer
duckboxxer

A downside of hiring college students without a very structured mentoring environment is that they can learn skills and then take off. They build a nice resume and then leave for more lucrative waters. On the point of recruiters, one thing that irks me is that you might have all or more of the skills required but not industry knowledge so that sends your resume to the trash. You may be the best developer or PM they can find with 110% of the skills, education, certifications, within the price range, years of experience, location, fit in the culture, but without banking knowledge, you don't even get those 6 seconds for someone to look at your resume. When I was a web deveopler, content was content, resorts, insurance, hairdos, antiques. But today, you have to have specific industry experience for many IT jobs. And it would be nice to hear back when someone said 'no'.

Professor8
Professor8

Hire able and willing employees, instead. IOW, ditch your irrational and irrelevant "qualifications".

redux
redux

But remember -- and HR isn't the only group that often forgets this -- you want a person you can work with, who can learn and bend with the needs of the group and company. Your best candidate may never have written an SQL statement in his life, may hate Microsoft, may have only worked in Unix and Oracle environments, but still be the new hire that quickly fixes that dog of a database server by seeing the way past bottleneck processes that choke performance. The "Tools" a candidate has worked with should be meaningless (tell HR!! -- do you really care if the candidate has "Microsoft Word" on his resume??), but the "Skills", narrowly defined, should also be suspect. You should realize that an IT candidate with an aptitude for programming in a high-performance high transaction environment can apply his aptitude -- his generalized skills -- to another software environment, often without missing a beat. At the same time, a candidate that has worked with exactly your environment and has the skills using the tools and software your department uses, may not have the aptitude to transition to applying those skills to the problems that your organization is facing.

Brian.Buydens
Brian.Buydens

1. Your essay could be summed up by "figure out precisely what you want and look harder." 2. I'm glad you didn't suggest "Hire the best from the unqualified applicants and hope they grow." This might work in fast food where the person will probably be gone in 6 months anyway, but I have seen situations where unqualified people tend to bring down the whole team. Management spends extra resources trying to help them, and other qualified people might decide to leave to avoid them etc. 3. I wish you would have mentioned "promote from within." With a current employee you know what their strengths are, and it promotes loyalty for workers to see that they can achieve advancement. It may also be easier to hire at a lower level to replace the employee you are promoting.

macmanjim
macmanjim

I have seen employers look for unicorns in their search for someone. Even with the choices the author outlines, they won't find someone, not at the salary that is usually offered, if such a person exists. Another choice is to actually train staff that work at the company and know the culture, the business and are already a fit. What a novel concept? If they are coming from a lower position, this might be easier to fill. Unfortunately, a lot of companies are short sighted.

Woody Goode
Woody Goode

1. LIST YOUR DAMNED SALARY RANGE. Companies always think it's a good idea not to disclose how much they plan to pay. They figure this gives them the flexibility to make an offer to an exceptional candidate. But by making people guess, based on the duties and their experience, what to ask for. produces the following scenarios: A. Your salary range was 65-70K, and the person (who is worth 70-80, but would have been flexible) asked for 75. Automatic exclusion from the glorified secretaries who staff your Personnel department. They didn't even look at the resume before they pitched it. B. Same situation, but the employee has been out of work for 9 months and is desperate. Asks for 60K, hoping that will make him more attractive. Also an automatic roundfile. The people with 90 IQs-- whom, for some reason you've made gatekeepers-- figure that something must be wrong if a person offers to work for so much less than he seems to be worth. 2, FORBID PERSONNEL, ON PAIN OF DISMISSAL, TO DO KEYWORD SEARCHES. If your company wasted tens of thousands of dollars on a gussied-up database, don't make it worse by requiring candidates to use the precise buzzwords from your posting. The computer doesn't understand that there is no major difference between using Symantec and Trend Micro antivirus. If you specified Linux Ubuntu, you won't get people who listed Debian or Red Hat (much less Unix). You wanted an MCSE and the person has an MCSA? He won't be there either. There are lots of good people out there who don't understand how fouled-up hiring is and don't realize they need to do this sort of cutting and pasting. They foolishly assume that companies read what they send in, which is no longer true. 3. LOOK AT THE PEOPLE CURRENTLY IN DANTE'S REPOSITORY. Two months ago someone posted for a Quality Assurance Team Lead. A really gifted analyst applied, but wasn't lead-y enough for them, so they were just missed. Personnel sent them an e-mail saying "We will keep your resume on file for the next 10 years and we'll check it religiously." So now you need a person more junior, and that applicant would be ideal. But they haven't re-applied, because they didn't see your ad or didn't want to seem pushy. And nobody has ever looked in the file of People Who Didn't Work Out Once, because there couldn't possibly be anyone good in there. 4. ORDER PERSONNEL TO GIVE YOU EVERY SINGLE RESUME THEY RECEIVE. You'll need to do this twice, because they'll fight you, but it'll be worth it. The last time, when you didn't see any resumes you liked, your company actually received eight applications from people fully qualified to do the work. You don't know this, because you've let a bunch of people who have no skills other than typing, filing and talking on the phones winnow them down. You said bachelors or equivalent experience? To personnel that means "only 'include someone with no degree if NOBODY ELSE who graduated has applied." A candidate might have five years of experience-- doesn't matter. Here's what happens: A. Personnel makes a stack of folks with degrees. B. The put the folks with experience-- but not the degree you specified-- in a second pile. (everyone else gets pitched.) C. Once the number of resumes in the first stack reaches 10-20, the second stack gets pitched. Let's say you need a DBA and a candidate worked ten years as a DBA, go laid off and took a help desk position in desperation. Personnel won't send him to you, Personnel spends 5-10 seconds looking at a resume. They check (a) title of current position and length of tenure, (b) current salary and (c) name of school and major and (d) certifications. A really dedicated one might look at the bulleted summary and list of applications used. Most don't. What about the 10 years? If they see it at all, they assume the person must have been let go for cause, or couldn't get rehired because he was unqualified. Personnel departments. you see, never ever make mistakes. You really need a person that badly, read the resumes yourself. Spend 30 seconds on a resume and you can do 100 per hour. That's 800 a day, Get 2,500 resumes? Take your two top people. You think nothing of pulling people out of work for a day to do teambuilding exercises involving straws and marshmallows-- you can't spare two for important jobs? There is no shortage of skilled candidates. There is only a surplus of people who do not know how to hire.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

After finally realising the difference between skills and tools, you could hire for attitude and train for aptitude. Okay silly idea, offshoring will be far more popular, even though there's nothing inherrent in that solution that will address the "skills" deficiency.

dilipsrivastava88
dilipsrivastava88

Learned a lot of possibilities that may help us in sorting out our issues that we face in our own office. Thanks!

Woody Goode
Woody Goode

You just identified the second biggest copout about hiring-- right after 'lacks skills'. "Our industry is so complex and hard to learn that it would take too long to bring you up to speed." Unless you work in a highly regulated industry, and you need to hire someone to write business rules for an ERP application, industry-specific experience usually isn't required. Obviously you can't have people who are ignorant of HIPAA writing logic for a HMO's data transfer module... but if the task is "take the data from this bucket, validate it against these rules-- none of which you will write-- and move it to that bucket" how much knowledge do you need? Many industries use very similar processes. How would someone who has spent their entire career working in (say) logistics know how any other industry functions, much less while other industries are comparable? (These folks typically are the ones most willing to hire Deloitte or Booz Allen, paying $500/hour for a junior consultant who's never worked in the industry.) Given a choice between someone who has only worked in telecommunications and someone who's done manufacturing, retail and insurance, the first might have more expertise, but the other (assuming he hasn't been fired repeatedly) has shown a capacity to learn. Given the speed at which business rules change, that ability to adapt is likely to be more helpful. I remember one employer-- an electric utility company that needed an online trading module to buy and sell oil to run its generators-- that begged everyone in the building to try to find them someone. I agreed to bring a contractor in, on the condition that they would not ask for his resume and give him a three-day trial, where I would pick up the cost if they didn't like him. Two weeks later, after he'd found a way to improve the speed of the offer processing module about 40%, his boss asked me how he had developed such amazing skills. The guy nearly died when I told him his star programmer had not been working in the financial markets (as everyone imagined), but had written a Napster clone.

Woody Goode
Woody Goode

I would put it this way. For all too many people, "Skill" is a synonym for "keyword" or "certification" and it's a binary thing-- you either are an MCSE or you are not. A "capability" (you could use '"competence" or other things) means you can perform the work. The obvious example is SQL. If you understand how the language works and what the structure of a statement needs to look like, the tool you've been using to create it is trivial. I know a lot of people who have HP Test suite skills, who are totally inept as designing test cases. For some reason, companies love to hire those folks and shun the people who are capable of testing, Another good one. Candidate is not an MCSE because he doesn't really know Exchange, or couldn't afford the bucks for the certs. The candidate has worked in a multi-server environment, supporting about 300 users. Whether or not he has the SKILL, he is probably CAPABLE.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Those of us who have achieved competence our varied fields and environments can tell who's who very quick. We are lot more expensive than some one with a degree in general studies, an email address and a phone though. It's another one of those traps the business myopics just keep falling into. Hiring the right person is expensive, the cost of hring the wrong one, well who cares, that's next quarter....

Woody Goode
Woody Goode

If I had a dollar for every company that used approach two (hire the best person who didn't have the qualifications, hoping they'd grow) in the last five years.. I'd be able to buy a case of Keystone beer in a year or two. If I had a penny for every company that left the position unfilled and re-listed it, I''d be writing this from my villa in Cannes. The scenario you describe is rare. At least compared to the number of firms who limp along short-staffed for 18 months until a couple of their best people got tired of doing double-duty and quit. The reality is that making a bad hire hurts your career, but not hiring anyone doesn't penalize you in the slightest. And of course your underlying hypothesis-- that no one who applied was qualified-- is almost always false.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Attitude should be just as much (if not more) than valuable than aptitude. I've never seen a team brought down by someone with a good attitude, lots by a "qualified" one though.

smckenna
smckenna

Yes, I got a job one time that involved DB2/IMS/PL/1 and I had VSAM/CICS/Cobol resume, but they interviewed me and like my attitude and trained me. But that was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

JohnRomeis
JohnRomeis

I do agree with Woody's statements. In this economic climate there are a lot of good people looking for work, the fact that companies can't find them means there is a disjunct between those looking to hire and those looking to be hired. Unfortunately in this instance, if you need the job done properly, you need to do it yourself it appears. It's not easy and it takes time, reviewing paperwork, doing 1st, 2nd and even 3rd interviews but it's worth it in the end.

redux
redux

I have never worked with an HR department that had a clue how to screen resumes, let alone screen IT resumes, and your number one job should be finding good people. On the other hand, as Tom Marsh pointed out, the right recruiter will cut through the hundreds of resumes to screen, and the tens of potentials to call to find out what kind of person lurks behind the resume -- to save you a lot of wasted time before you start interviewing the 3 to 5 candidates where you will want to focus. Of course, and unfortunately, what you and Tony have both said about recruiters is also often true -- some recruiters are HR people out on their own and have no clue about IT. They will throw you every resume they can find in order to see what sticks. That is expensive and a waste. But that doesn't mean you should throw all recruiters under the bus. And by the way, your next real step-up in your career will probably come through a good recruiter that knows his job. Keep that attitude about recruiters and you will not be getting on that train.

lhAdmin
lhAdmin

Unfortunately I think this sad practice will continue until someone who actually worked in IT (i.e. actually possesses IT skills) moves into HR but I doubt that will ever happen. If you don't understand that someone well versed in Trendmicro Antivirus can port those skills over to Symantec Antivirus, how can you tell if that candidate is not qualified to do the job?

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

Somebody else who actually, really gets it. I wish I could vote you +1 million, man.

SKDTech
SKDTech

And if the company is worried about possible PII disclosure then strip names, contact information, etc... out of the resume and hand your people a stack of stripped resumes to browse through and select candidates. Personally, I think there are a large number of people like myself that are qualified to do the job but are not good at "effective" resume writing and/or don't have well developed interview skills. I spent three years in and out of short contracts (mostly out) after my last full time employer laid me off during a reduction in workforce (most junior/least irreplaceable, my fault I know) and it wasn't until I was submitted to a company where my potential manager was the one who went through the applications and interviewed the candidates that I "made it through" the hiring process. Hiring seems to me to be one of those areas where information technology still has a ways to go before it is a better alternative to having knowledgeable people reviewing each resume. Heck, IMHO HR isn't qualified to judge the qualifications of IT applicants in most companies.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

That for that first draft cut done by unqualified people (HR and recruiters), they'd spend less time and get better results, by turning the front page of your resume in to a paper aeroplane. Throw it and pick the twenty that flew the furthest. As yet I've seen nothing to disabuse me of this opinion...

TooOldToRemember
TooOldToRemember

Sometimes the attitude (I agree withTony about priority) is in another department that you work with everyday. My senior developer worked in HR, my best Business Analyst was in procurement and an engineer was one of my best security admins. Your staff knows who in other departments may be capable of doing some of the jobs you want to fill. Some of them are where they are because they took the first job they could over the past several years. The benefit is they already know the company and the lay of the land.

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

It is important to note there is not a "skills deficiency" in this country. With very few exceptions, companies claiming "worker shortages" in IT are just grandstanding for the political-goal of getting direct-handouts from our government to train their workers, or to import cheap-labor from overseas where some other government subsidized the training. This is actually an example of the existential crisis in American business that is defined by the confluence of two trends: Short-term thinking and massive entitlement on the part of powerful corporations. Specifically, that they're entitled to demand high-tech skills, pay a bargain-basement salary, and not spend a single nickel training anybody anything, and if they can't find an American willing to work for sub-standard wages they'll bribe all the congressmen they have to (with PAC money and direct campaign contributions) to get the government to important another million H1-B workers.

duckboxxer
duckboxxer

How I wish that could go on a billboard. Industry knowledge isn't important. You mention healthcare, that too. If not, you have a limited set ofpeople that can ever work in the industry. Complex yes, but people can learn that too. But you are right, if you don't have that specific domain, give it up. And I am learning, going from public sector (back) to private is a hurdle.

redux
redux

Completely agree, Tony. Attitude first. I think you have to want to do something before you can do it well.

Woody Goode
Woody Goode

That the Personnel department of the typical company is staffed by people who don't know what they're doing and either can't or won't learn, even if you offer to train them. I did that when I was a hiring manager and I also offer that as a service. I'll talk to the hiring manager, find out what the job requires and then sit down with Personnel and go through the resumes in batches. They pick the ones they like, I do the ones I like. A bright person who wants to learn can do it in 3 hours. Most members of Personnel get offended by the suggestion that they have anything to learn, even though most are as qualified to find the Higgs-Boson particle as they are candidates.

Woody Goode
Woody Goode

They do exist, I've met them. 1. They can read a resume closely and guess, with a high degree of accuracy, who the person behind the bullets is and what their story is.. 2, They can either remember the people they talk to-- or take good notes and file them in a way they can find things when they need them.. 3. They understand the corporate culture/candidate approach needs to match and try to do that. These people are worth their weight in gold-- as a result, they focus on the postings up the food chain. Why would you fill $60K postings, if you make double for filling a $120K job? The only time they go lower down the food chain if is a client who provide a substantial percentage of their income says "Can you please find us a junior programmer who knows COBOL? We really need to plan for this guy's retirement." Most of the people running around are headhunters-- they're only trying to fill THAT posting. They don't have the sense to say "Holy smokes, this person is really amazing. I should get to know them even though I don't have a position for them right now. I can see I will need them someday." The subset are the ones who do everything off keywords. They want SQL and .NET the way a pimp looks for a girl who is "busty" and "blonde" for his clients. Whether the person is good-- or doesn't have the skills but could learn-- doesn't matter. Those last two folks outnumber the good ones by an overwhelming percentage. It's not tough to differentiate them-- you can do it in 30 seconds by asking two questions (or just check their LinkedIn profile for two things). I don't want to make too many sweeping generalizations, but it is enormously frustrating to deal with people who won't submit you for a position that you know you;'re qualified for, but wants to push you to a marginal fit because he doesn't have anyone applying. And if you are a candidate who does a lot of contract work, you run into those guys far more often than the good ones.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Yeah right. This guy doesn't like us so even though they are really good candidate and could make my comission I won't put them forward, and I'll be totally safe doing this, because all my other candidates are better than everyone elses and I can trust my fellow recruiters to not put this person forward as well..... Can I interest you in a bridge?

Woody Goode
Woody Goode

If you got the interview and didn't get the job, that's you, Maybe some other candidate with awesome skills beat you. No interview and you don't know if (a) you're not qualified or (b) they couldn't tell PHP code from Shinola.

andrew232006
andrew232006

I'm thinking high gloss photo paper will give my resume the most distance.

Woody Goode
Woody Goode

Personnel can do a resume in 5 seconds (Toni Bowers posted something about this, if anyone doesn't believe me). It takes close to ten seconds to do a paper airplane. Other than that, you're right. Almost every time I've hired someone, it's been over the strong objections of Personnel By the way, why help them glorify what they do by going along with their desire to have fancy titles? Personnel and headhunters, I say. (And headhunter is only because some people object to 'pimp', which is really closer to it). I have a standing wager. Hire me for one day, show me the posting, let me talk for 15-30 minutes to (a) the hiring manager, (b) any other supervisor and , if possible, (c) at least one person who does the work. Then lead me to Dante's Repository and the pile of resumes that Personnel rejected. I'll find you at least five people-- one of whom will be better than ANYONE passed along by Personnel.

smckenna
smckenna

and buy their own devices, routers, pens, pencils, paper and pay for their own ISP.... Basically we're a nation of boot lickers now...

mikes
mikes

I currently work for a medium sized private company. Our MIS department currently has three positions and we are trying to add one more that can balance my own skill set. We need someone who can program, manage a database, and understand networking. That's only 25% of what I do, but it's the most essential. With the job posted for a week and a half, we have received exactly 8 resumes, only 2 of which have the necessary SQL skills (and neither of which is local, nor has the networking; but I'd make an offer if the SQL was as good as their resume claims). I'll be happy to link you to the Monster ad if you know anyone on the east coast (U.S.) who is looking for this type of work. Oh, and we aren't interested in insourcing or outsourcing because it's going to take at least 6 months for anyone coming in to get up to speed on half of what they need to know. I want someone who's willing to stay with us for 5 years. The colleges are our next step; but again, we're looking for a long-term solution. I'm still shaking my head, because I wouldn't have believed it until I saw it with my own eyes. Only 8 resumes for a job posting in this economy? What's up with that!?!

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Is ridiculous requirements for current certs in 20 disparate / conflicting technologies. If they knew/admitted the difference between skill and tool, their argument would be too specious even for a politician needing a campaign contribution. Well okay maybe the last bit was an exageration :(

Woody Goode
Woody Goode

I would never hire senior people-- who write rules for the company-- who don't understand the industry and aren't familiar with the laws. A local retail chain just had a major disaster because one of their new security people didn't know the ins and outs of PCI. The whole business runs on a vertical apps suite, you probably do need to know the industry, at least. That said, a local hospital chain just asked me to make sure all the people I brought over to apply a Windows 7 image to their new boxes had healthcare experience.

Woody Goode
Woody Goode

You sound like you're good at what you do, take pride in your work and realize that at least some of your peers have issues. I would not set a percentage, place blame or say that every area is identical (I like to think some area of the world can do this stuff well). The only point I will make (which isn't directed at you or anything you've said) is that unemployment has skyrocketed since 2008, and it is highly unlikely that it was all due to a skills shortage that suddenly materialized. Sweeping, systemic failures where both sides complain about the outcomes is almost always the sign that a process has become badly broken. Almost every change in hiring processes in the last 40 years has made it harder for people to hire or get hired.

redux
redux

other recruiters, it's hard to know what kind of percentage is out there; but then, there's a reason I generally don't work with other recruiters. When I did systems work, I did find some great gigs through recruiters I respected, and that, in part, is why I decided to start recruiting -- there really is very little real competition. Of course, the other reason I started is the flip side of the coin -- IT managers are generally horrible: either they don't know how to manage, or they don't know fluff from substance. In both cases, talented IT people (attitude and aptitude) get hurt, don't learn how to be good managers, or waste their time. So their attitude suffers and they become "damaged goods". Occasionally, it feels good to get past that and help someone in that situation start feeling productive again. And, to me, that's one reason you probably can find qualified staff, if you look. But it does involve fitting the job to the person, not the other way around.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Where did that come from? Attitude isn't arrogant. It's self confidence, self assertion, self knowledge. It's can do and will do. It's knowing your limits and wanting to exceed them. And when does someone like me (or the other 95%) even come to a headhunter's notice? I trust you to act in your own interest, and I trust that sometimes your and my interests might usefully intersect. To ask for more is unforgivable arrogance. You want us to start reeling off bad recruiter stories, we've done multiple threads on this site that ran into 100s. I can come with a double handful myself, and everyone of them asked for trust and told me some crap about them acting in my best interest. Try again, I sell bridges, I don't buy them.

redux
redux

Tony, sorry -- you really don't understand what a headhunter is doing. I, for one, will never proceed with a candidate that doesn't trust me or that I don't trust. No, it's true that he doesn't need to "like" me, nor I him. However, if the candidate doesn't care that I believe that the best fit for the company or candidate is only a good fit if it is in the best interests of the candidate, then I will be wasting my time. It is extremely unlikely, in my experience, that the arrogant attitude of that candidate will remain hidden for long, and when it shows up, his career potential and prospects won't be all that rosy. Oh, by the way. I assume that recruiters that don't do a good job WILL, in fact, put that candidate forward. Remember, there are also bad companies to work for. Let them hire this supposedly "really good" candidate. Life is too short to spend time shoveling garbage.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Do an extra copy of your front sheet and make your own plane ready for them. Shows your helpful side and a bit of initiative. :p

Professor8
Professor8

The other poster made a good point -- there is an on-going talent glut and the HR people are acting dysfunctionally. Because they don't know the right things they're discarding or burying information about able and willing candidates while passing along many people who are not actually able or willing, but who seem to be by their misguided standards. Meanwhile, more and more hiring managers are deferring more of the job of finding talent to these dysfunctional HR people. I tend to hold the title "head-hunter" in very high esteem, and "recruiter" as toxic waste. To me, a head-hunter is someone who knows the field, has built up contacts with good STEM workers and hiring managers through years of good placements, and who actively places good candidates rather than filing information about them away in the hope that a key-word search may happen to turn them up for an appropriate position... or not. Another thing going on is that good people have exhausted their A list, their B list... and they simply do not care much for the rest. Sure, we want good work, but we don't see much good work being offered. (And now my thinking has come back around to Cappelli's new book _Why Good People Can't Get Jobs_ and wondering whether he has gotten it right this time, either.)

sissy sue
sissy sue

"Basically we're a nation of boot lickers now... " That's been apparent to me for the past three decades or so. Employee rights in the USA....That's an oxymoron.

Woody Goode
Woody Goode

It was posted, he says, on Monster, so they handle submissions. And since he's located in Bucks County, PA, the most likely reason for not getting responses is "it was a bad ad." I don't agree with the notion that no candidate will know networking, database and programming (anyone who's ever had to build an Access app for a small business network will have learned). But it depends on the skill level requested and compensation offered. If the ad wants an MCSE, Oracle DBA and .NET and it offers $35K, that's why. Since I haven't seen the address, I assume the commenter knows what the problem is. Else why not share?

Professor8
Professor8

SQL is a widely-available skill. It's easy to develop, and easy to adapt to the many variants. As tom.marsh points out, you should not be seeking one person with such a wide variety of skills. I have such skills, and many others do, too. None of them take all that long to develop. But a team with overlapping skills is often better than trying to hire one jack of all trades.

Professor8
Professor8

4. you did not offer to fly the most promising candidates in for interviews 5. you did not offer to relocate capable candidates 6. you did not offer to train capable candidates

Woody Goode
Woody Goode

I'd love to see the ad. Two most common issues when an ad doesn't get at least 100 responses are: 1. It's in some off-the-beaten track spot (e.g., Wolfeboro NH. Schoendient, MT). 2. The job site screwed you up when they assigned it. I had a client in Westlake Ohio post a job and it would up in the site's Westlake, California silo. (Someone chose the wrong entry on the auto-complete). I do, as a matter of fact, have friends who do this in the East Coast (although that's a big place, so they might not be within 500 miles of you). But let's see what went up. It's possible you just need a couple of simple changes/

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Start looking at domain knowledge or particular subset of tools/ certs/ platforms, you narrow the possibilities enormously, add in current, we you get the idea. You need to prioritise, pick a strong networking guy who can (and wants to !) program a bit, or a programmer who doesn't mind the doing end to end stuff. If it was me I'd go get someone who wanted a start and to learn and let them grow into the role. Off the shelf, unrealistic in the extreme.

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

I understand why a programmer would need database skills, but why networking? You're looking for a very-unusual combination of skills in one-person. The problem is that few people have networking on top of programming and database, so you're really sabotaging your recruiting efforts to demand networking out of this person too. Additionally, if I were such a person I would be extremely hesitant to bring my incredibly valuable skill-set to a 4-7 man IT shop where I'm "wearing three hats." That sounds like a recipe for being over-worked (and likely underpaid if its a "Kitchen-Sink" IT shop.) As I see it you have several challenges (opportunities): 1. Weird combination of skills. If your company doesn't develop software for network devices or network computing you're sabotaging yourself and should seriously rethink requiring networking. 2, Size of your team combined with #1 may be turning off "skill-appropriate" people because of a perception of overwork. Might not want to mention how few people are on your team until they're in the interview. If you have two other postings open (not sure if you're saying you're a "three man team" or have "three posts to fill") but if you do have other posts, let him know you're growing the team to meet the workload, not grinding down the people to avoid spending the money. 3. How did you publicize it? Such a low number of applications makes me think the posting isn't very well publicized. Are you on LinkedIn? Post it to your local jobs groups, and to your local IT skillset groups. LinkedIn is also nice because serious, savvy job-seekers are always watching these boards. Don't just put it on Monster or CareerBuilder and wash your hands of the publicity: That's not enough. 4. SQL Server is a pretty common skill with tons and tons of variations. I understand the challenge of finding your specific SQL needs... Our organization looked for a SQL stud for a looong time, and now we have him and its great, but it was a real challenge before this. Perhaps reach out to your local MS user group, SQL Server user group, or other professional organization for a direct-referral. 5. Are the applications being "filtered" by somebody that isn't you? It is a chore, but I recommend that all IT shops conduct their own resume` reviews and tell HR whom are "acceptable" and not the other way around. Automated HR processes (or rigidly enforced "100% compliance" checkllsts) are goofing up recruiting for a lot of companies. Some of them are angling for political leverage, but there are a few that are simply getting shafted by incompetent/lazy/outsourced HR people who use an automated software program to sort resumes, rather than reading them. 6. Consider using a recruiter. There are fees, but they're worth it because these firms work. They filter the people you don't want to even waste your time talking to, and only send over the greats. Our previously mentioned SQL Stud? Found him through a recruiter. Ditto about half the people in here. The rest came from referrals. Zero of their positions were advertised--anywhere--yet we have a very effective system for recruiting talent.