Free snacks and on-site video games may help companies attract skilled IT workers, but speeding up the hiring cycle is also important. Drawn-out employee searches frustrate IT managers and prompt good candidates to accept jobs elsewhere.
Increased corporate IT investment and the technology industry's low unemployment rate have created a candidate-driven market, so companies need to streamline the recruitment process if they want to get their hands on the best IT pros available.
"The unemployment for technical jobs in most of our markets is a lower rate than the general unemployment rate," said Victor Gaines, vice president of talent acquisition at Fiserv, which provides financial services technology to banks, retailers and investment firms, among other clients. "Folks who have technical skill sets are finding jobs at a faster rate and they're staying at those jobs [longer] than perhaps some other skill sets."
Fiserv, which has offices in top technology markets including Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas, has found that other companies are courting the same IT workers they're looking to hire.
"We end up in situations with candidates with competing offers, which is great for the workforce but it's tough for us to manage," he said.
Jack Cullen, president of IT staffing firm Modis, offered a blunt assessment of the U.S. IT hiring process: "Managers that are hiring IT talent, they're pickier than ever and they're hurting themselves." Talented workers may have multiple job offers, he added, so slow and overly selective employers will lose their top choices.
IT job website Dice.com placed the U.S. technology industry's unemployment rate at 2.7 percent in 2014's first quarter, compared to an overall U.S. unemployment rate of 6.7 percent.
The need for technology workers isn't limited to the U.S., said Duncan Williamson, vice president of education at SAP, whose territory covers the Asia-Pacific region.
"The challenge out there is there just isn't enough talent to fill the jobs," he said of employers looking for people who have experience with SAP's ERP (enterprise resource planning) software.
And when positions stay open companies lose out.
"When we don't have that job filled, we're impacting the business because we're not able to devote the number of resources to the product or the service that we need to," Gaines said.
A protracted hiring process also works against a company. Managers begin to lose "a little bit of momentum" if the process extends for too long, said Gaines.
Decisive and assertive IT hiring managers will get the best talent, said Cullen. Because lengthy hiring cycles might cause candidates to lose interest and look for other opportunities, this can leave businesses with applicants who may be less qualified than their top choice, he said.
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