It’s no secret that the tech industry has been booming for years. From Google to small businesses, companies of all sizes have been embracing new technologies and innovation—and that’s led to a wealth of new opportunities in the field.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, employment in IT and IT-related industries grew at nearly twice the rate of total employment from 2006 to 2016.
As the Brookings Institution puts it in their report on “Trends in the IT Sector”:
“[..] The proliferation of digital technologies will continue to bring unprecedented structural changes to the US economy, cementing the IT industry’s position as a leading source of growth and employment.”
While this rapid growth in IT has been prosperous for the economy and STEM workers, it’s also created a growing need for highly-qualified employees in the US. However, with more demand than there is a supply of qualified STEM professionals, IT candidates aren’t readily available. However, with the country’s lagging STEM education, IT candidates aren’t readily available.
Forbes called the shortage of STEM talent in the US, “America’s High-Tech Stem Crisis.” Fewer candidates fighting for more spots means stiff competition for employers. This shortage is one of the many reasons why IT industry staffing has become so vital.
Curious about how to recruit in the IT industry? Follow along to find out more.
IT industry staffing, or IT recruitment, is the act of securing talent for information technology firms.
Often, IT recruiters may have an area of expertise or may recruit for specific roles, like cybersecurity experts or IoT professionals. This specialization allows recruiters to excel exponentially and help you find the best candidate.
The IT staffing recruiters act as the liaison between the candidate and the employer. IT recruiters leverage their industry knowledge to vet and interview each candidate, digging deep into qualifications, culture fit, and more to place the perfect candidate in each position.
Simply put, IT staffing is: evaluating business needs, connecting with the right candidates, and delivering talent—all in a timely fashion.
Let’s start with some quick facts about the IT industry because if you want to know how to recruit in IT, you need to know the industry inside and out.
- The global information technology industry is set to reach a market value of $5.2 trillion by 2020, according to the research firm IDC.
- The United States is the largest tech market on the planet, representing 32% of the total global market value of the industry.
- CompTIA projects the global information technology industry will grow at a rate of 3.7% in 2020. The topside forecast for growth is 5.4% and the downside floor of 1.9%.
- IT workers feel optimistic about their roles on average. In the US, 86% of IT professionals rate their outlook as very good or fairly good.
- The average annual salary of IT professionals in the US is $85,310 and 138,972 for IT executives.
- According to the 2019 Global Recruitment Insights and Data (GRID), the top IT staffing trend challenge cited by recruiters was talent shortages (73%).
The IT sector is not what it used to be. These days there are hundreds, if not thousands, of IT job titles and countless amazing opportunities for candidates.
For the non-techie recruiter, all of these IT sectors and job titles can get a bit confusing. So, here’s a brief list of common sectors and jobs in the IT industry to help clear things up:
- Cloud Computing Engineer
- Cloud Systems Administrator
- Cloud Architect
- Network Administrator
- IT Support Staff
- Network Engineer
Data Storage and Analytics
- Enterprise Data Architect
- IT Systems Administrator
- IT Data Governance Consultant
IT Customer Support
- IT Customer Support Associate
- IT Customer Service Representative
- IT Support Technician
- Cyber Security Analyst
- IT Security Consultant
- Cyber Security Management Officer
- C++ Programmer
- Software Developer
- Software Quality Assurance Engineer
- Web Developer
This list is by no means an exhaustive list of IT sectors and jobs. There are numerous ‘hybrid titles’ that combine an array of skills from different disciplines and industries to fit a specific talent need.
Not to mention, employees can cross boundaries into industries that use information technology. For example, IoT System Engineer jobs have exploded in popularity over previous years. Now even Johnson & Johnson, a multinational pharmaceutical, medical device, and consumer packaged goods company, is hiring IoT Systems positions regularly.
An in-depth understanding of IT sectors and the array of jobs within them is a prerequisite for any IT recruiter. After that, it’s all about developing an innovative, collaborative approach to each candidate search to find the best professional.
The value of human capital is immeasurable. That’s why, all around the world, so much effort is placed on recruiting top talent. In the US alone, the recruiting market size topped $153 billion in 2019. So if recruiting is so crucial to success in business, what are the options for companies who need IT recruiting?
Passive vs. Active Recruiting
There are two basic types of recruiting that both candidates and recruiters utilize.
Passive recruiting is a style of recruiting where companies broadcast open positions—on job boards, their website, or otherwise—to attract new talent. As the name suggests, few resources are put into passive recruiting as the employer waits for potential candidates to seek out their position. This tactic can work for some businesses, especially for smaller companies with limited hiring needs. Still, the reality is most companies need help recruiting—at least if they want the most qualified candidate for the job.
That’s when active recruiting comes into play. Active recruiting uses contingency firms, networking, database work, direct mail campaigns, and more to reach out to the best candidates. If human capital really is a crucial component of an organization, it’s understandable why so many employers choose active recruiting.
IT Recruiting Firms vs. In-House Recruiters
Once a business has begun active recruiting, there’s another choice to make. Do you hire an in-house recruiting team, or work with an IT recruiting firm?
Both opportunities are lucrative; however, depending on your unique needs, one option may be more advantageous over the other.
In-house recruiters have a finite understanding of the company’s culture, values, and mission, as well as knowledge of what qualities the candidate should have. This inside perspective is incomparable and of value to companies that seek greater control over the hiring process.
Nonetheless, in-house recruiting does have its downfalls. Companies that do not have the resources to allocate a dedicated, in-house IT recruiter may need outside help. Additionally, recruiters need a degree of technical knowledge to recruit for this position successfully. Again, if this is not available in-house, an IT recruiting firm may be a better option.
IT recruiting firms are especially advantageous if in-house recruiting resources fall short. IT recruiting firms have an extended network of potential candidates developed over many years. That’s an irreplaceable asset that can reduce time to hire significantly. Additionally, recruiting firms have market knowledge that takes time for in-house recruiters to acquire.
Just as in-house recruiting, IT recruiting firms do have their disadvantages. Depending on the recruiting firm, you may not have hands-on access to the recruiting process. In addition, you run the risk of hiring a potentially less-than-optimal candidate.
All in all, the choice is wholly based on the company’s requirements and resources. And the decision should not be taken lightly.
Recruiting is no easy task. These days recruiters face an ever-changing business landscape. Accordingly, recruiters must continuously develop both soft and hard skills to successfully recruit for IT staffing.
Hard skills are in-depth industry knowledge, language abilities, software capabilities, and other technical skills. They’re the bread and butter for recruiters and IT professionals alike. Still, soft skills like communication and leadership can’t be forgotten—IT recruiters need to have it all.
The following are just a few IT recruiting skills that IT staffers should master:
IT skills are not just a necessity for IT roles only. To successfully recruit for IT positions, recruiters should have a basic understanding of IT skills.
The recruiter doesn’t need an advanced degree to find the best candidate. However, a thorough comprehension of coding languages, information technology principles, and the position’s duties can go a long way in a one-on-one interview.
To elaborate, an IT recruiter should be able to intelligently discuss emerging technology and describe different processes as well as answer technical candidate questions.
Ultimately, this skill will allow recruiters to make educated decisions about the candidate’s qualifications and aptitude for the role.
Recruiters need to do deep dives into candidates’ history and technical abilities—especially when it comes to IT recruiting.
The best recruiters are willing to do more than just a little digging into candidates’ backgrounds. Verifying job and education histories, performing background checks, drug screenings, and more should all be just a start.
IT recruiters should also either perform or set up technical interviews with IT Coding Tests. These tests usually include sections on debugging, algorithms, and work style assessments. On top of that, an in-depth secondary interview that tests soft skills, organizational fit, and more will help lead recruiters to the right candidate.
There are several moving parts in the hiring process, including screening applicants, conducting interviews, running background checks, and more. All of these moving parts are happening simultaneously and with multiple candidates.
Accordingly, a great IT recruiter should have the appropriate multitasking skills to manage multiple candidates, and the stamina to maintain professional relationships with potential employees.
The tech industry is bustling with evolving technology and increasingly varied specializations. For this reason, commonplace interview questions aren’t going to cut it.
IT-specific interview questions will depend heavily on the position. When hiring a software engineer, for example, most of the interview will actually be technical exams. These usually include debugging problems using C++, C, and Java, as well as algorithm problems and work simulations.
Nonetheless, there are a few information technology interview questions that are universal and will give you a better idea of the candidate’s aptitude. Below are some IT recruiting questions that should be considered for almost any interview in the industry.
What are a couple of online resources you might use before turning to a colleague for help?
Problem-solving is one of the most important skills any IT candidate can bring to the table. That’s why it’s a great idea to ask a question that forces interviewees to go through some steps they would take in solving a problem—on their own.
Some possible answers here might include a reference to popular sites like StackExchange, GitHub, or LeetCode. Most IT professionals should be at least aware of these.
What are some current trends in the IT industry? How are things changing?
The goal of this question is twofold. One, you’re trying to see if they prepared for the interview by doing research beforehand. And two, this is a chance for a candidate to illustrate their genuine interest in their industry. Or, at least, their understanding that staying up-to-date is a necessity with tech changing as rapidly as it is.
What are the programming languages, operating systems, or software you like the most? Is there anything you really don’t like working on?
This is a great question to get an idea of the breadth of a candidate’s IT knowledge. It can also help you figure out what a candidate wants in a programming position.
For example, if you need a candidate to work on C++ and they mention their favorite language is the much loved C++ alternative Rust, you know you have some more digging to do to see if this is the right opportunity for them.
What was your worst project setback or failure, and how did you overcome it?
This is a classic interview question that, once again, goes back to problem-solving. IT recruiters have to be certain that IT candidates can think on their feet and solve complex problems. It’s important a candidate answers honestly and has an answer for how they learned from their setbacks.
Describe a time when you and a colleague or manager didn’t see eye-to-eye. How did you resolve the conflict?
Getting a glimpse into a candidate’s conflict resolution skills is a great idea before making a hire. Ideally, the candidate will have the chance to show their ability to learn from constructive criticism or from an unexpected conflict in the office.
With the IT Industry booming, learning how to hire for technology companies can be invaluable for recruiters’ career development. IT may be filled with frustrating jargon and confusing job titles, but it’s also where both recruiters and employees get paid the big bucks.
The fact is IT recruiters are among the highest-paid professionals in the recruiting industry. Hopefully, this quick guide on how to recruit for IT is just what you need to become one of those highly paid professionals and start a new rewarding career finding top tech talent.