Finding and keeping technology talent is perhaps the most important activity leadership can focus on in an organization. As the needs of the larger organization grow, so do the demands for services. New compliance regulations? Find a technology solution to manage that. New field operation? Go get some technology to enable them to communicate and access their applications. Division director grand kids give him an iPad and BAM, having his email and calendar on the new device becomes an absolute priority.
Technology recruiting can be a brutal exercise, especially for government entities. Once upon a time the value equation of working for a government was very high and the sector attracted career professionals. Job security, pension benefits and a low stress level were all great reasons to enter government service. All of these have eroded over time, and it is a tougher sell now. Generation X and the Millennials value things in their careers and jobs that government sometimes struggles to deliver.
Perhaps the hardest aspect of recruiting for technology professionals is the very portable nature of the skill set. Technology professionals are needed in, and recruited by, all sectors, private and public. Non-government entities have more latitude with hiring salaries and other benefits. Competition can be very fierce for top talent and hot skill sets.
Fear not! Try some of these ideas to more effectively lead the recruiting in your organization. They have each helped me lead successful recruiting efforts, maintain staffing levels and find exceptional talent:
Hiring Plan – Managers sometime struggle to get approvals to fill positions. Leadership in organizations may not understand how the recruiting efforts support the overall mission of the organization. Construct a hiring plan that you can use as a communications vehicle. make sure it has all the positions you need to recruit, the budget impact, the justification, the strategy for the recruitment and the impact of not filling the position. Make sure the plan stays up to date as staff are hired, and other staff move on.
Start Early – The size of your organization will determine how many vacancies you can “carry” with a small operational impact. Resignations & retirements can be unpredictable and prone to spikes. Two vacancies today could be 4 in a couple of weeks, and falling behind can take many weeks to catch up. If a retirement is looming, try to get permission to recruit the position early. Try to keep one position in recruitment during each posting cycle.
Use Social Media – You have to go where people hang out if you want to get them to notice you, and technology people hang out in social media (among other places). LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and others allow you to reach people who may not already be looking for a job. Stay active in social media, and build your professional network so you have it when you need it.
Use Personal Networks – Some of your best networking opportunities will be via your personal network and your employees personal networks. Ask your friends and employees to get the word out! Talk to people! Get out of your office! One of the best personal networks I have ever seen is the alumni organization of a fast track executive MIS program at a university close to my work. They are very engaged and vested in seeing their former students apply for new opportunities.
Sell, Sell, Sell The Organization – Name three reasons why someone would be happy they came to work for you…. Go. If you can’t do that quickly, you need to work on your marketing skills. You have to entice people to work in your shop. Sell it! Practice your elevator speech for the organization. If you don’t seem excited about your organization during recruiting and interviewing, no one will want to work for you and neither would I.
Hire From Within – Your best potential pool of candidates is your internal staff. Encourage them to compete for the positions. Equip your staff to win the positions by developing them and preparing them. I have conducted interviewing skills seminars for my staff, held mock interviews and given resume writing advice. You will be amazed how much people appreciate this. Will they use the skills to perhaps leave and go someplace else? Possibly. The chances are greater that they will leave if you do nothing.
Barry Condrey is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.