The Right IT Recruiter Can Help Find Your Unicorn

How to Get The Talent You Need, When You Need It

Tim Duffy

In IT recruiting, a job description is just the tip of the iceberg.

Employers may say they want a data analyst, but what they really want is a data analyst with experience in healthcare – who is also an expert in security and compliance. Or maybe they want a mobile applications developer – one who really gets how interior designers think.

It’s not that employers mean to be picky. Usually, they’re looking to do one of two things. The first is filling an urgent need in the wake of a sudden vacancy (reactive hiring). In that case, they want someone who can step right into the departing employee’s shoes and do their job, with all the specific technical knowledge and industry expertise that implies.

The other reason is that they’re thinking ahead (strategic hiring), and they want someone with a knowledge base in line with their corporate growth strategy.

In either case, employers are increasingly leaning on recruiters to meet their specific, multi-faceted needs, and many are not up to the job.

Scarce to Begin With

Even taking industry-specific experience off the table, hot IT skills are scarce. A recent IDG survey found that 49% of CIOs expect to experience IT skills shortages in the next 12 months. For enterprise organizations, the number climbs to 54% – even higher than the 45% reported by small businesses.

The most sought-after skills are data analytics and business intelligence, security and risk management, application development and programming, and business-IT liaisons. Close behind are cloud services, enterprise architecture, mobile technologies, IT project management, IoT, and database administration.

That’s a lot of buckets to fill.

The problem is that business demands have increased in number and complexity, while staffing levels have not risen. The shortage of skilled workers is so acute that top-level managers sometimes have to wade into the weeds themselves to get the job done. The IDG study found the percentage of CIOs who say they’re spending time managing IT crises rose from 19% last year to 27% this year, a level not seen since 2008.

IT departments have an urgent need for help, but as we’ve seen, it has to be the right kind of help, or they won’t hire. After all, what’s the point of going to the trouble and expense of doing a search, interviewing, and finally onboarding someone who won’t last six months because they aren’t a good fit?

Finding the Right Recruiter

Faced with this conundrum, some employers are using big data to analyze competitor talent pools and pilfer workers with the right skills to join their own organizations, the Society for Human Resource Management says.

They wouldn’t have to go to such lengths if recruiters could meet their needs.

In some cases they can. Employers looking for specific IT skills will have better luck with a firm like Connection that deals solely with IT and has a solid track record of success.

Connection’s Staffing/Recruiting team, with 30+ years of experience, takes time to fully vet and understand customers’ positions and business needs to identify the best fit for their requirements.

Talk to a potential recruiter and ask if they sort talent not only by skill type and level, but by industry expertise. If so, you’re on the right track. Even if they don’t have a unicorn today, they’re in the best position to corral one for you when it comes along.