"You've got to sell your opportunity if you feel that this person might be a fit," he said. "You've got to start going for the jugular in the interview process to gain them."
Cullen partly attributes the selective IT hiring process to more cautious corporate spending.
Before the recession, "IT budgets were pretty expansive and managers would hire maybe more people than they needed. Today, every dollar is accounted for, timelines for projects are very tight, there's less of a budget to do the hiring."
Additionally, the recruitment process requires conversations between hiring managers, human resource staff and recruiters about all the skills a person needs to be successful. Vendor management software and other applications that scan resumes for keywords can overlook a role's essential skills, he said. An algorithm may not understand that a company wants a Java developer who can solve business problems and interact with clients, not just someone who can code.
"All these factors are so important and if they're not taking place at the inception that's where it really breaks down," Cullen said.
Receiving applicants that aren't right forces managers to conduct their own screening process, which adds another layer — and time — to the hiring process.
"Your mind starts ruling out rather than ruling in people," said Cullen.
A better scenario, he said, would allow the IT hiring manager to directly tell human resources and recruiters the specific technical and soft skills and cultural fit that the role requires.
At Fiserv, the human resources department works with IT to help managers better define a job's required and preferred skills. Getting managers to hone in on a candidate's necessary background helps recruiters better understand what type of person the business needs and allows them to identify the right people up front.
"There are some managers who really need to get in the thick of it and start interviewing candidates before they have that moment when they say 'I thought I need these five things, but now I only need three of those, but there's another piece I need instead," said Gaines.
Defining a job's vital skills before the talent search starts can avoid looking for an IT worker who may not exist, said Gaines. For instance, finding a Windows engineer who is a technical project manager and .Net expert would prove challenging, he said.
"When you start stacking those pieces together that creates somebody who can be a little bit of a purple squirrel for us."
By delivering quality candidates, human resources proves its credibility, he said.
Human resources can offer a perspective beyond what technology background a job requires, Williamson said. IT departments are "very often blind to other aspects of an individual which is going to determine whether they're going to be successful in the organization," Williamson said.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.