Taking a forensic approach to recruiting

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This article appeared in the April 2014 issue of CRN magazine.

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Taking a forensic approach to recruiting

With the skills shortage in the IT space, the search for quality talent is more important than ever. The problem is that with fewer students doing IT courses, the talent pool is getting shallower for resellers.

Generally, smaller companies are regarded as having certain advantages over the big end of town when it comes to recruiting the best and brightest. They’re usually less bureaucratic. Relationships between leaders and employees tend to be closer. Employees at smaller companies tend to cover more territory in their work compared with their counterparts at larger companies, who tend to be more specialised. Many small business owners treat their workforce as an extension of their family. Also, they tend to be in a better position to tailor jobs to individual’s needs. 

Some companies even get their younger managers to mentor Gen Ys, to almost act as big brother and big sister to them. They become their sounding boards, and also feed the information back to senior management about what needs to be done. It makes these firms more attractive places to work. 

But the biggest drawcard for attracting talent is flexibility. This means having initiatives such as job sharing, flexitime, work-at-home programs, shorter workdays for parents, compressed working weeks and phased retirement. Flexibility is no longer a “nice to have” program. It is now absolutely crucial, and not just for women balancing children and careers. It’s highly sought after by Gen Y employees who tend to blend work and life together.

To recruit effectively, companies need to look at their strategies. This forces them to assess how the recruit will help the business. That gives resellers the opportunity to identify their competitive strengths and examine ways of improving their firepower. By doing that, they can identify and examine the skills the company needs.

There should also be a due diligence process where the reseller checks the potential recruit’s background and asks the right questions in the interview to match the job being offered. It is important to remember that past performance points to future performance.  

Psychometric, personality and aptitude tests work well. And there are cost benefits. The expenses involved in these tests are minimal when compared with the costs of high turnover, under-performance or misemployment of staff.

Unless the business is just looking for someone who can fill in for the next six months, the employer needs to look at where they see the business in two to four years’ time. This is all part of the strategic thinking that goes into recruiting talent. The bottom line is that before you even start hiring, you have to look at where the business is going. You first need to identify the skills the company needs. Look at the skills you need to bring into the organisation and what skills you will need to beat your competition. Smart recruiting needs strategic thinking.

Leon Gettler is a senior business journalist who writes for a range of newspapers and journals

Case study: City Software Group

Lorenzo Coppa, founder and CEO of City Software Group, is a strategic recruiter. He hired former Telstra heavyweight Paul Humphrey as CSW’s (a division of City Software Group) group sales and marketing manager. He used a recruiter to get Humphrey, who was put through a rigorous process of personality profiling and aptitude testing to make sure he was the right fit.

“We look for people who are a strong cultural fit for the organisation,” says Coppa. “We look for how well they align to where we are heading as an organisation, and to that there are the underlying experiences and competencies they have to be able to deliver.”

By putting his resources into making sure the recruit is the right fit, Coppa saves the costs of turnover and retraining.

“When you are recruiting for talent, you get lots of people wanting to work for a successful organisation but actually only a few people want to help an organisation be successful,” he says. “We try to find out what are they attracted to in the organisation. Do they have what it takes to grow the organisation? There’s an aspect of science and judgment; there’s an art to it.”

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