It’s a claim made from coast to coast: we can’t find IT talent. Yet, at the same time, there is a lot of talent out in the market that can’t find work.

The past decade has seen credential and experience requirements rise, and job descriptions become ever more precise, in an attempt to manage the flow of resumes that pass the HR scan and hit our desks. Unfortunately, we’ve ended up over-specifying our positions, making it harder and harder to find the talent we want. Meanwhile, people with skills languish, because they lack a credential, or a keyword on their resume.

Look carefully at the contractors and consultants you have around your organization. How many of them could break through your HR scan if they applied? Yet, at the same time, are they unqualified? Often, they’re more than capable of filling a position in the firm.

Too many IT managers would prefer not to have to invest the time in scanning a large pile of resumes to get to a short list of candidates to interview, yet that’s precisely what now has to be done to find talent. The very few in each market that meet the credential requirements that have been placed on positions have been snapped up.

There’s another roadblock we put, unconsciously, on new candidates: people who’ve been spending their time as contractors or consultants are often automatically excluded from consideration.

Large organizations, public and private, also have a bias: they want to hire from other large organizations. There’s a myth (and it’s only a myth) that people who’ve been independent “just won’t fit in” if they take a job. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many who are independent never wanted that life — they took it up because of a downsizing, an outsourcing, or an employer closing its doors — and they’d very much like to return to regular work. Or their family circumstances have changed, or they’re basically tired of being lonely and want the regular human interaction of being back in a firm.

Yet these types of candidates, rich with experience, are often dismissed immediately, because they are considered “a flight risk”.

Companies, still, when surveyed, show an inability to think outside of other boxes of their own making. There are still enterprises that won’t interview unless a candidate is coming from their own industry, won’t interview if the candidate lives more than a certain distance from their offices, or won’t interview if the candidate shows “too many” or “too few” jobs.

If you’re short of talent, you need to be scanning for good candidates regularly, and that means looking at more than the small stack that passes your current HR scan. Lighten up your requirements a bit, look carefully to weed out preconceptions that are excluding people from your consideration, and think carefully about what you really need.

You may find that a few well-timed job offers to contractors fills your bill — and you know what you’re hiring. Otherwise, interview away.

The talent is out there, waiting for you.

5 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with everything you say here, Bruce. I think this is totally the situation we have today. And its equally true for consultants trying to get through the agency filter as well, even before the HR filter, and finally the direct manager.
    Its the old story of needing 10 years experience in a 5 year old subject/technology. Or 5+ years experience in all of 15 different topics.
    Perhaps managers need to add talent acquisition techniques to the list of training that they need for their jobs.

  2. Lovely piece. Reminds me of when I started from the lows, full of talent, ready to explode. I was 26+ and I had begun consulting professionally for large companies. I walked down Karimu Kotun Street, Victoria Island put my hand on the door to Mitsubishi’s Country Manager’s office in Lagos requesting to do business. He was so impressed with my ‘can-do spirit’ that he immediately introduced me to their Abuja Regional Manager who walked in three minutes after our first conversation. Talent is not going to find its way into your office if you close them out of your options. The world of today requires all the juices to get the finest of results on the bottom-line.

  3. Lovely piece. Reminds me of when I started from the lows, full of talent, ready to explode. I was 26+ and I had begun consulting professionally for large companies. I walked down Karimu Kotun Street, Victoria Island put my hand on the door to Mitsubishi’s Country Manager’s office in Lagos requesting to do business. He was so impressed with my ‘can-do spirit’ that he immediately introduced me to their Abuja Regional Manager who walked in three minutes after our first conversation. Talent is not going to find its way into your office if you close them out of your options. The world of today requires all the juices to get the finest of results on the bottom-line.

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