What advice would you give IT leaders struggling to recruit talent?

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Advisor | Investor | Former CIO in Services (non-Government), Self-employed
When you look at the actual recruiting process internally, consider how the Marines approach acquiring talent. The Marines have all these recruiting centers dotted all around the country for hiring, and one of the greatest accomplishments that a Marine can attain is to be asked to staff one of those locations, and to recruit. This is considered one of the greatest honors. It is not considered the punishment that many other organizations make of recruiting. In other words, put in the right reward mechanism internally to communicate that there's nothing more important than attracting, identifying, and onboarding talent. That is a way that we can help move the needle.

I've been in organizations where the recruiting was an absolute joke. And I've been in other organizations where it's been incredibly impressive and I've learned a lot from their recruiting process. And when you contrast those two organizations, the outcomes that they enjoy from the way they approach the recruiting process are dramatically different.

There are ways to improve the process. When you have a candidate coming in, there's not enough thought put into getting the recruiting team organized ahead of time, and making sure everybody is aware of how they'll approach the recruiting process, and then afterwards, doing the debrief in a timely fashion. In some organizations, the candidate says, "I was supposed to meet with this person. They never showed up." No one even bothered to tell that candidate that the interview wasn't going to be there. So it's a multi-layered issue and we have a responsibility to take the process seriously.
1 Reply
Senior Executive Advisor in Software, 10,001+ employees

Recruitment should be like an event planning exercise.

CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
In some cases, we're not looking close enough within our own four walls, especially those of us within academia or the EDU. We could be doing a better job of inheriting our own pipeline to give people those first opportunities, and train them up. We could get 1-2 years of experience out of them, learning from the skills they have that we don't, and giving them the skills that we have that they don't. But that still ends up being industry-specific.
CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees
I've been at Upwork since before the pandemic, and as an online marketplace where you get flexible talent, our situation was the other way around. When the pandemic hit and the need for flexible talent increased, we got extremely busy. So we've had almost zero turnover, because we needed so much more staff to support our growth. And the reason I give that context is that when I sit and think of talent, it's not about the amount of people, but whether you have the right talent you need, and how long you’ll need them.

Because skills and needs change as time progresses. Technology really has the shelf life of a banana. If you have a full-time hire sitting here now, what do you do with them if there's a new tool exploding in the marketplace? That's why I started thinking differently about staffing: Do I need full-time resources, or do I need the right resources on a continuing basis for the foreseeable future, and then the next set of talent? Trying to create a talent bench has become more of a focus for me.
2 2 Replies
Vice President for Information Technology in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

When you're talking about talent changes, it seems to me we're talking about a difference between tasks and talents. If you have a task that needs a particular skill set for a finite amount of time, that strikes me as an instance where you don't need the person, you just need the job done. Talent is getting somebody who can adapt to the jobs as they change, and I wonder if that's not an interesting dichotomy there—task versus talent.

CIO in Education, 1,001 - 5,000 employees

Great point. Getting a job done and looking at the long-term picture are two very different skill sets. But that's why I say that sometimes, you want to have a talent bench rather than creating deep pockets of skill sets within the team itself. If you create those skill sets in deep pockets, where you're able to motivate them and get them out of that cog in the machine type of role, that's when you’ll see the differences.


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