If you have ever recruited for IT or tech-related job listings before, you’ll know how complicated it can actually be compared to recruiting in other industries.
Aside from the hard and soft skills each candidate must possess–which you have to assess yourself, even though you may not have come from an IT background–there is also the matter of finding the right cultural fit for each role.
And with global digitalization showing no signs of slowing down, it’s no wonder why the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics expects jobs in the IT sector to grow by more than 667,000 jobs by 2030.
However, according to research by Gartner, 64% of IT executives believe that “talent shortages” are the biggest factor preventing them from adopting new technology in their companies.
So as it stands, we have the possibility of having over 600,000 jobs to fill, but business owners are actually experiencing mass difficulties in finding people to fill these jobs.
This huge mismatch can be seen as an incredibly pressing problem for tech or IT recruiters. But take a look at it progressively, and it can be an opportunity to gain a competitive edge over recruiters who don’t know how to solve this so-called “IT talent shortage” yet.
The source of the issue is not a lack of IT or tech workers, as many may have assumed. Rather, it is about cracking the code on how recruiters can qualify candidates better, AKA the right people for the job.
And the solution starts with improving your recruitment system, to better fit the ever-changing world of technology recruitment.
So in this article, we will be exploring five key steps to help you qualify IT/tech candidates, to improve the way you recruit and stay ahead of the competition.
What does “qualifying candidates” actually mean?
Before getting into how to solve the problem, it is important to take a step back to understand what it actually means to qualify an IT or tech candidate for a job opening. Generally, you will need to qualify a candidate based on these two criteria:
- Skills - The primary way of qualifying IT or tech-based jobs is through their hard and soft skills, and whether the skills match with the job opening or not. Examples of skills-based qualifying include measuring the candidates’ ability to code in languages accepted by the company, proficiency in certain software, or in the maintenance of devices and servers.
- Cultural fit - A crucial part of ensuring whether a candidate will do well in a role is whether they fit with the company’s culture, particularly whether their personality and beliefs match with those of the company. Examples of cultural fit-based hiring include asking candidates about their life and career goals, what their past work experience was like, and what they think about the company’s vision and mission.
Both these factors play an integral part in shaping your best recruitment system, as they will help shape the ideal candidate to add to your shortlist for your clients. However, since job descriptions in the IT and tech industries are normally more skills-heavy than cultural fit-heavy, it can be easy to fall into the trap of hiring solely based on hard and soft skills.
This normally happens when recruiters (and even their clients) are unaware of the actual cost of hiring the wrong people for the job. This can be explained by exploring how much it sets a company back when an employee leaves the company, meaning they were not the right fit for the job.
The cost of hiring the wrong candidate for the job
The first thing to keep in mind about hiring the wrong employee is the Cost of Turnover, which refers to the average cost of replacing employees.
According to this Forbes article, it could cost up to two times an employee’s annual salary to replace them. The article raised an example of a 100-person company where employees were paid an average of $60,000 a year. The cost of turnover for such a company could potentially rise up to $3 million.
Even if you didn’t calculate the cost of turnover for all 100 employees, a single employee leaving in that scenario could set the company back around $120,000 in costs related to the employees' absence, as well as finding their replacement.
Aside from all the financial factors tied to hiring the wrong person, business owners also have to deal with a loss of progress.
Let’s say one or a few people were hired with the vision of going digital, or the ambition of reaching the top 10% of coding companies in the industry, for example. If some of them were to leave after just a few weeks or months, or if they don’t pass probation, the company will have to start the hiring process for the same positions they thought would be secure.
And without a solid recruitment system in place to find and qualify candidates, the damages could be larger the longer it takes to find a new employee.
Another global issue to keep in mind is changes in the average time a person stays at a company, called an employee’s company tenure. The same Forbes article mentioned that the average tenure for an employee in 2021 was 1.8 years at a company. From 1983-2018, the average was five years.
Granted, there are several factors that contribute to an employee leaving a company, much of which are internal. But we cannot deny that these developments are real issues for business owners, and this is exactly why any recruiter who can help contribute to a solution will be of higher value to clients.
Please keep in mind, though, that as IT and tech recruiters, you are not only hiring for tech companies (Saas, coding, cloud computing, etc.). There are also traditional companies who are aiming to go digital, be it by implementing modern HR managment systems, paystub maker software or a complete digital transformation.
So finding a way to constantly deliver high-quality candidates for both of these client groups’ needs will also help you stay ahead of your competitors.
Now that we have gone through the value of qualifying candidates, let’s move on to the five key steps to help you qualify your candidates in the IT industry and improve your recruitment system.
Five steps to qualifying candidates in the IT industry
1. Make the job description clear and engaging, based on desired skills and cultural fit.
Many job descriptions (namely in IT and tech) focus too much on the required skills for the role, and not much else. The issue here is that you may get candidates who do have the desired skills, but may not have the drive and motivation needed to fulfill the role well. Examples of this misalignment in cultural fit include:
- The life and career goals of the candidate might not align with that of the company.
- The candidate might assume that the job is just a regular nine-to-five gig, where in fact, the client needs someone who can help drive growth and work flexible hours.
- The candidate may come in with the expectation of quick growth opportunities, where the client wants someone to do maintenance work.
This is why a job description that clearly mentions required skills is crucial to achieving a good hire, and having a solid recruitment system in place for your clients.
So, in addition to mentioning hard skills and soft skills in job descriptions, like coding ability or proficiency in certain platforms, be sure to include culture-related details, such as:
- The company’s vision and mission (1-year, 3-year, or 5-year vision would also be great to include)
- Detailed information about the working culture and day-to-day life at the company
- Information about the founder or co-founders
- What the company supports and does not tolerate (supports diversity, does not tolerate disrespectfulness)
- Any external links about the company, like publications or marketing materials
2. Find and screen candidates with an applicant tracking system (ATS)
Screening, also known as vetting, is the process of filtering out the most suitable applicants for a job opening from those who are not suitable. Much of developing a candidate shortlist occurs in this step.
Normally, the screening process for recruiters involves manually reviewing job listings and selecting favorable candidates to call in for an interview.
However, to stay ahead of the competition, you will need to maximize your chances of getting the best candidates. And a good shortlist generally starts with ensuring that you have searched thoroughly enough for suitable candidates from all available sources.
This especially applies to IT or tech candidate sourcing, where you must pay attention to applicants who applied directly for the role, as well as passive candidates who are currently working somewhere else, but could potentially be a great fit for the role.
To ensure your clients don’t miss a chance at hiring the best fit for them, consider using an applicant tracking system (ATS) to improve your overall recruitment system, by managing thousands of job listings at once.
With an ATS like Manatal, for example, you can centralize all your job board applications inside one platform, instead of having to manually monitor applications from dozens of listings for the same job:
Manatal automatically creates profiles of all applicants who applied on each of the platforms you select, which makes it much simpler to keep track of applicants in each job opening.
In addition to automated candidate profiles, Manatal also improves the overall screening process with integrated candidate sourcing from multiple channels (LinkedIn, social media, job boards, as well as AI-driven candidate recommendations.
These features help make sure that you are not missing out on anyone who fits the candidate profile you are looking for. For example, the platform also gives candidates a score based on relevance to your customized criteria:
With these tools, your screening process will result in much higher-quality candidates, which will prepare you for the next step: sending assessments to candidates who have made the cut.
3. Send assessments to candidates to qualify their skills.
Typically, assessments are not needed with jobs outside of IT or tech, unless a company is really looking for someone with specific skills or beliefs. However, in the IT industry, assessments are practically mandatory for ensuring a good hire, as they can prove whether a candidate has the skills and abilities to carry out the key responsibilities of the role in question.
Examples of IT and Tech assessments include coding assessments and data science tests. However, highly-technical assessments can be hard to develop and grade yourself, particularly if you are a recruiter without a background in coding or software engineering.
Fortunately for recruiters, curated assessments now come as an integrated feature with an ATS. This means that once a candidate meets the job opening’s requirements, you can choose to send them a previously-created assessment to test their skills.
These assessments are a huge game-changer for recruiters because it eliminates all the guesswork of qualifying candidates, thus improving the quality of their shortlists.
Manatal’s recruitment system currently offers integration with Codility, a company that provides IT and tech assessment services for recruiters. Here is how it can make your life easier:
Once you have your list of candidates, you can simply choose to send them an assessment within the Manatal platform itself:
(SOURCE: https://support.manatal.com/docs/codility )
You can then easily select the type of assessment you want the candidate to complete, in a simple interface that eliminates the need for multiple emails:
(SOURCE: https://support.manatal.com/docs/codility )
All of this paves the way for the next step to be completed in a much faster and more accurate way: grading the assessments and counting scores.
4. Collect and compare scores to create your top candidate shortlist.
Codility’s integration with Manatal also includes automated scores and reports from each of the assessments, effectively taking out the need for recruiters to grade assessments that they don’t know how to, or don’t have the time to check.
Once the candidate has completed the assessment, you can see their actual score and reports on how they did, so you can compare them with your benchmarks and determine whether their skills made the cut:
(SOURCE: https://support.manatal.com/docs/codility )
This helps you compare the scores and reports of candidates within minutes, instead of hours or shuffling through assessments, one by one. And, of course, your shortlist will be based on clear, fresh data instead of something candidates wrote on their resumes or CVs.
5. Make final assessments of the highest scorers based on cultural fit as the deciding factor.
Once the data-backed shortlist has been made, it is much simpler for the client to choose their ideal candidate for the role, as they can just simply look at your reports to see who achieved the highest scores on the role’s assessment.
If there are multiple candidates who did well on the assessment, then the decision could very well come down to who is the better cultural fit for the company. And while there is no way of guaranteeing whether a hired candidate will stay with the company, this process will have already ensured that your client has found the best person for the role at a given time.
So with these five steps, you as a recruiter will have already played a part in solving some of the biggest hiring challenges IT executives face, namely proving skills without them having to devote any resources into doing it themselves, and finding candidates who are more likely to be a good cultural fit for the company.
With all the expected growth in the IT and tech job sector, and with more and more companies going digital, it does not look like assessment-based hiring is going anywhere soon.
Tools like Manatal and Codility’s integration aim to make life for an IT or tech recruiter easier, by taking all the guesswork out of grading assessments and maximizing the time taken into proving cultural fit. And the faster recruiters find ways to stay ahead of the competition, the more opportunities they have to become a frontrunner in the industry in the coming years.