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  • 1. TOO OvERwHELmED TO HIRE RIGHT? Hudson finds IT leaders are moving too fast to follow hiring best practices. Inside we offer 5 strategies to help see the light at the end of the tunnel.HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES
  • 2. ExEcUTIvE SUmmARY AT A GLANcE 4 Barriers to IT hiring (pg 4) 5 Strategies for improving talent acquisitions (pg 7) 15 Waysto improve results from your staff augmentation vendors (pg 10)Doing more with less. That seems to be To gain insight into this serious quandary, Hudson interviewed technology managers fromthe prevailing dilemna keeping today’s IT organizations all over the country and captured their thoughts about this troubling state ofhiring managers up at night. Less time, business. Here’s what we learned:less money, fewer resources…and tighterdeadlines. The pressure is relentless, and • imeisnottheonlyscarceresource. T • candidates are demanding moreIT departments are struggling to cope. Budget dollars and talent constraints control over their careers and are are also impeding many IT departments’ lesswillingtotoleratedelaysOn a positive note, budgets are finally ability to get things done. inthehiringprocess.unfreezing and allocations are beingmade for both contract and full-time • Despite all the press about high unemployment, • IT departments need help, but theyhires. Yet that may not be enough. toptechnicalprofessionalsremainscarce. have notimetoplanandnotime tohire.There is a pervasive sense among workersin general—and IT professionals inparticular—of being absolutely overloaded.Of barely keeping up with the tasks andprojects that need to be done. Technologyprofessionals feel that they “should”be able to complete tasks quickly andinstantly, and end up feeling inadequatethat they cannot.This is not the usual “too much to do andtoo little time to do it” archetype of recentyears—this is palpable despair of– being overwhelmed,– feeling incapable of meeting expectations and,– seeing no clear way out or solution for the problem. HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES
  • 3. ExEcUTIvE SUmmARYBased on this input from IT leaders, Hudson identified four primary barriers to hiring, along with five strategies for overcoming theconstraints, minimizing the stress and finding the time to hire right. The remainder of this paper confronts these issues and explains howsome managers are coping with the current state of affairs. Highlights of our recommended strategies are shown below. 5 STRATEGIES TO HIRE “RIGHT” 1 uildabetterbusinesscasefor B 4 sestaffaugmentationmore U hiring. strategically. Show executives how hiring full-time and Implement better workforce contract staff will directly correlate to planning to eliminate capacity improvements in efficiency, productivity constraints, shorten learning curves and profitability. and accelerate productivity. 2 treamlineyourhiringprocesses. S 5 topgoingitalone. S Become more proactive in your Invest time to train staffing vendors approach to candidate selection to to enable them to be more proactive accelerate decision-making and and accurate in providing the talent improve your access to top talent. you need. 3 tartwiththe“BigRocks.” S Approach task management more intelligently by better matching people to tasks. Use contractors to backfill your need to complete lower level work and routine maintenance activities. HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES
  • 4. 4 BARRIERS TO HIRING “RIGHT”when it comes to the success of technology projects, the three most critical elements are planning, process and people. But if you don’t hireright, or staff sufficiently, no amount of planning or process can compensate for your talent deficiencies.while no organization sets out to hire wrong, the challenges of any fast-paced—and budget constrained—IT department often preclude bestpractices in hiring and staffing. consider the following issues: BARRIER1:Managershavelittletimeandnoaccommodationsaremadeforhiring. Tight deadlines abound. Expectations for getting things done “yesterday” are rampant. IT managers must deal with huge project backlogs (backlogs possibly created because departments don’t have enough IT talent to complete them—an ironic feedback loop if ever there was one). But hiring is a time-intensive process. Even with the assistance of the human resources department, hiring places a significant burden on IT managers. consider the steps in the hiring process: • Hiringrequirementsmustbedefined. Often job descriptions are little more than a list of duties and necessary skills. But a well-defined job requisition delineates the experience and personality traits of your ideal job candidate. After all, all the skills in the world won’t matter if the person you hire can’t work with your team. • Candidatesmustbesourced. For junior-level positions this may mean no more than writing and posting a good job listing. But for highly specialized skills and leadership positions, you need a well-conceived recruitment strategy—determining where you can find the people you need and, just as importantly, how to get them interested in your firm.4 • Resumesmustbescreened. No job opening ever returns just the right number of responses. Either you’re inundated with resumes to review or you’re scrambling to find any with the requirements you need. Either way, it’s a tedious process that often cannot be done without significant involvement from the IT department. • Candidatesmustbeinterviewed. Before you can interview, questions must be developed, scoring systems should be defined and interviewers must be trained. To compound matters, interviewing most often is not a one-time event, but a multi-step process involving multiple managers, multiple departments and multiple rounds of interviews. • Assessmentstestsandbackgroundchecksmustbeadministered. According to, 4 percent of job applicants lie on their resume. To hire right, skills must be tested, backgrounds must be verified and references must be checked.5 • Offersmustbenegotiated. compensation is one of the trickiest and most dangerous parts of the hiring process. Offer too little and you’ll never attract the talent you want. Offer too much and you run the risk of creating division in your organization because the salaries you pay your employees have a habit of becoming “public knowledge.” Long-time workers receiving less than new “stars” can become embittered and disengaged over what they perceive as an inequity. The challenge is to do your homework to put forth the compensation package that best fits the candidate’s needs and your company’s constraints. • Newhiresmustreceiveproperorientation. Onboarding is a critical process. Even the most talented new hires don’t show up ready to master your systems. Fail to provide a proper orientation and you’re going to suffer reduced productivity and often more turnover. HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES 4
  • 5. 4 BARRIERS TO HIRING “RIGHT” BARRIER2:Financialconstraints Sometimes, there’s just no budget to hire. This especially has been the case for the past two years (009-010). This seems to be changing, however, as a third quarter 010 Economic Impact Survey6 found that “[o]ver half of IT leaders plan to ramp up budgets in the coming year, with only 16 percent planning cuts.” Still, of the 50 cIOs surveyed, just “5 percent plan to increase spending on full-time in-house workers.” (many plan to keep their contract hiring steady in 011, the report said.) This budget crunch also creates another problem. managers find that they only have funding to hire one person, while they actually need three people. Therefore, they are tempted to craft a complex role combining pieces of various positions into one new role. These “hybrid” positions are not only abnormal to manage, they are unattractive to highly-talented individuals who will ascertain they are being asked to do the impossible. In addition, financial constraints also may force HR and IT to set compensation targets that are not sufficient for attracting the right people, slowing the hiring process, with disappointing results. BARRIER3:Talentshortages The “good guys” still are hard to find. many average or low-performing IT professionals lost their positions during the recent recession while companies tended to retain their highest performers. As the recession wanes and IT hiring picks up, companies are finding themselves flooded with applications of those currently unemployed—generally the low-performing and average.7 But hiring underperformers can be worse than not hiring at all. mediocre employees require more supervision, more training and they create more disruption and substandard work than their peers. In fact, a study by mcKinsey company found that top performers increase productivity, revenue and profit by between 40 percent and 67 percent. So when it comes to hiring, you simply cannot afford to settle for less than the best. BARRIER4:Candidates’desireforflexibility IT professionals want elasticity in their job and career options. Top IT talent knows they are in demand, and they continually look for their next “hot gig.” companies wishing to make offers to these stars need to do so quickly. we’ve seen many IT managers miss out on their opportunity to hire top people (this includes full-time hires and contractors) due to delays in the assessment process and/or their hesitancy in making an offer.8 HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES 5
  • 6. THE IRONY OF TEcHNOLOGY IN IT HIRINGSTRESSINTODAY’SWORKPLACE STRESSANDOVERWORK STRESSANDPRODUCTIVITY • 34percent of employees cite too many job demands or overwork as • 40percent of employees report their most common cause of stress. losing an hour or more a day in productivity due to stress. • 66percent of employees who feel• 5percent of employees are 5 overworked report feeling nervous • 0percent of employees say they 2 stressed to the point of feeling or stressed. 4 miss more than six work days a year extremely fatigued and out of control. due to stress. • 26percent of employees felt• 42percent of employees report an overwhelmed by the amount of work • 25percent of employees say they increase in errors in their workplaces they had in the past months either come to work five or more days a due to stress. often or very often. year too stressed to be effective. The recent Great Recession (December This has resulted in a pervasive sense 2007-June 2009) was different than any among workers of being utterly inundated. other and not just because it was the And it’s more than just feeling there’s too worst recession on record: unlike other little time to do too much—there’s a real recessions, in which American productivity sense of futility and a feeling of being rises when workforce numbers are cut, incompetent:** These tools exist to make productivity during the recent recession me more productive. The tool can allow actually decreased.* me to send a message in less than a minute; it can allow me to create a American workers have hit capacity. document in less than five minutes. Yet I Companies truly are understaffed am not able to get it to you now. I have 25 and existing employees are things on my to-do list to complete in the utterly overwhelmed. next hour. Yet if the tools exist, I should be able to complete them. But I can not. What’s exceptionally ironic, of course, Therefore, I am inadequate. And not just at is how much technology—which was my job: I am lacking as a human. supposed to help us work less and relax more—actually has exacerbated our stress. Smartphones, e-mail, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., have become so ingrained into our daily lives that we can’t imagine living without these tools. But we can’t live with them either! Technology has made us so connected that employers have developed untenable expectations regarding our responsiveness. We are expected to be always on, always available and always ready to respond. After all, if I can send you an e-mail in less than a minute, why can you not send me the report I need in two? HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES 6
  • 7. 5 STRATEGIES TO HELP EASE THE LOAD STRATEGY1:BuildaBetterBusinessCase. If you need to hire but management says, “No—no budget,” show the following: • How hiring additional IT talent will eliminate capacity constraints. • How hiring the right talent will improve productivity. • How deadlines will be met—and the economic benefit to the firm of getting projects implemented faster. • How bringing in expertise—even on a contract basis—will shorten the learning curve for new technology. In building your business case, look for the hard costs of IT shortages, and then demonstrate the ROI of eliminating these shortages. For example, you might evaluate: • The average response time to problems in your network or application. • System downtime and the impact on sales, service or operations. • The number of help desk calls you’re receiving. • The backlog of work accumulating because staff is overwhelmed. • The average output of your current employees and the subsequent gains that could be achieved by bringing in the right supporting skills and experience. Executives understand how technical inefficiency increases costs and can result in the loss of clients, revenue and even internal staff. Be proactive and present a cost-benefit analysis to your firm’s leadership showing how hiring staff (either full-time or contract) will improve your firm’s ROI through cost reduction and/or an increase in productivity and revenue. STRATEGY2:StreamlineYourHiringProcess. As mentioned in one of the previously outlined hiring challenges, too many companies are taking too long to finalize hiring decisions and extend employment offers. The best IT professionals do not stay on the market for long. If your hiring process is inefficient, you will lose top talent. Instead, work with your human resources department to find ways to make the hiring process faster. These could include: • Having great job descriptions prepared for all critical positions. • creating a clearly defined candidate evaluation process, including systems for resume scoring, interview evaluation and assessment testing. • Providing better training to department managers on the hiring process (how to spot the best resumes, how to interview better, how to negotiate salary, etc.). • Preparing interview questions specific to IT professionals and having them ready before you ever need them. • Improving communication between your department and human resources to avoid bottlenecks. HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES 7
  • 8. 5 STRATEGIES TO HELP EASE THE LOAD STRATEGY3:StartWiththe“BigRocks.” Stephen covey discussed this in his book, First Things First, describing an individual’s “big rocks” as those tasks or projects that are the most critical to do in terms of results desired and goals to meet. Placing your “big rocks” into a container first allows you to fit the less-important-but-still-vital things (what covey described as the “sand, gravel and water that fits between the spaces”) around the rocks. Doing so, covey says, ensures that the critical things get done first. How do you do this yourself? By doing what the staffing industry labels “backfilling:” • Identify the “big rocks”—the critical tasks that you want to assign to your best people. • Identify the “sand and gravel”—the smaller “grunt work,” routine maintenance and other low-level tasks that distract— and detract your top people from focusing on the “big rocks.” • Determine which of the sand and gravel tasks can be offloaded to contractors or lower-cost administrative support. • Bring in short-and/or long-term contractors to do the “sand and gravel” work. • challenge your star players to put more effort into the critical projects. STRATEGY4:UseStaffAugmentationMoreStrategically. Basically, this means bringing in outside personnel to augment your current staff, more proactively. For example, by analyzing your project load, in-house resources, upcoming projects and capacity constraints, you can: • Eliminate capacity constraints on your current staff by providing just-in-time access to additional technical resources. • Shorten learning curves. Bringing in contractors with specialized skills allows those projects needing those skills to be completed—without having to keep someone on payroll for the times those specialty skills are not needed. • Staff up to meet deadlines. • Accelerate launches for new projects. • Reduce the negative impact of system upgrades. JUST ONE HOUR mORE SPENT wITH YOUR IT STAFF AUGmENTATION FIRm PROvIDING THEm wITH SPEcIFIc INFORmATION ABOUT wHAT DOES AND DOESN’T wORK FOR YOUR cOmPANY cAN PAY FOR ITSELF EASILY wITH FASTER FILLS, BETTER HIRES, LESS TURNOvER AND mORE PRODUcTIvE EmPLOYEES AND cONTRAcTORS. HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES 8
  • 9. 5 STRATEGIES TO HELP EASE THE LOAD STRATEGY5:StopGoingItAlone. Partner—really partner—with the IT staffing firm of your choice. Take just one extra hour up front to confer with the staffing manager to educate him or her on your company and its needs. This is a simple step that you can take to save significant time down the road. In fact, it is critical that you dedicate this time to achieve the efficiencies you seek in using a staffing partner. Your two-way conversation with the staffing manager should cover topics such as: • Your firm’s culture. what kind of personality best fits at your firm? Do those who enjoy set parameters thrive, or are your company’s stars more the types who act first and apologize (if necessary) later? Are you willing to hire for attitude rather than skill? • What have other staffing firms done right? what have they done wrong? For example, are you a financial institution that needs IT professionals with industry expertise, but your IT staffing firms keep sending you IT professionals with little, if any, financial industry knowledge? • Competitive intelligence on salaries. what is the norm for IT salary expectations in your industry? How do the specific duties and responsibilities of this role add or detract from the salary norm? A good staffing firm will be able to share salary benchmarks for peer firms in your industry, as well as explain how your specific position may vary from the norm and the resulting implications. • Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your current team. what skill sets do you already have on your team? At what level? where does this leave a gap in overall organizational knowledge and performance? Your staffing partner can help you assess the best mix of capabilities and work styles to increase the productivity of your entire team by the addition of a new member(s). HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES 9
  • 10. cONcLUSION: IT PAYS TO HIRE RIGHTSourcing, vetting and hiring IT talenthas never been a greater challenge.IT managers must overcome financialconstraints, talent shortages, demandingcandidates and, most significantly ofall, a lack of time to hire well.But hiring right is not just a good idea,it’s essential to the long-term successof any IT department or, for that matter,any company. Information technologyis the core of innovation, efficiency,business intelligence and long-termcompetitive advantage.considering that top IT professionals canbe 1,000 percent more productive thantheir peers, hiring right should be the wE REcOmmEND THEsingle most important goal of anytechnology manager. FOLLOwING TIPS FOR IT mANAGERS: 1 learly define and demonstrate to senior management the link between C hiring and productivity, efficiency and your company’s bottom line. 2 eengineer your hiring process to improve sourcing and minimize delays. R 3 ire contractors for lower-level work and put your stars on your H critical projects. 4 hink strategically about your staff augmentation efforts. T 5 ducate your IT staffing partner(s) as to what you really need in IT E talent. Give them the information they need—and the mandate—to be more proactive. HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES 10
  • 11. HOw TO wORK wITH AN IT STAFFING vENDORFor those who deal with IT staffing Setexpectationsfromtheoutset. Defineyourexpectationsforcandidatechallenges every day, a strong • Define your expectations for vendor orientationandtraining.Whatcouldrelationship with a staffing service performance. What are your typical yourstaffingvendor(s)dotohelp employee requisition lead times? What maximizeproductivity?that specializes in information do you expect for response times? • How much and what type of qualitytechnology talent can be a How do you want the staffing firm to control checks and follow-ups do yougreat asset. communicate with you? need or prefer? • Define quality standards. Provide a clear CommunicateyourneedsclearlytoThis whitepaper touched a bit on (and detailed) list of requirements for every staffingservicestaff.partnering with an IT staffing firm. job order, and ask the IT staffing firm not • Develop a relationship with a recruiter to under-fill or over-fill positions.we’d like to offer the following you trust. You’ll save time in orderingmore detailed suggestions here. Beproactiveaboutplanning. and increase the quality of service and • Develop as accurate a forecast as you can candidates. for your project staffing needs. Consider • Learn the names of other managers and your current project load, expected new recruiters in the staffing firm who will initiatives and your current talent to be able to help you should your main determine the types of technical skills you contact be unavailable. will need, the number of people you will • How do you prefer to place orders? Do need and the likely timing of your needs. you wish to call, e-mail or use an online • Meet with your preferred staffing order form to submit your needs? How vendor(s) so that they can be proactive do you want the staffing service to contact about recruiting. you? When is the best time to do so? • Provide as much lead time as you can for DevelopingITstaffingstrategies. each job requisition. • Analyze your workflow to look for TrainyoursupplierofITtalent. opportunities to improve staffing • Teach your staffing vendors about your efficiency (get your key people working projects and objectives. Make sure they on the “big rocks”). understand what you want to accomplish • Evaluate current and potential staffing and your time and budget constraints. issues, such as turnover, morale and • Educate staffing vendors about your work other staff problems. environment. What types of people are most • Create strategies for the recruitment likely to succeed? What are the personality and training of IT talent under best and styles of your managers and supervisors? worst case growth plans. What are they looking for? HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES 11
  • 12. cITATIONS 1 5* Productivity Decline Adds to Worries “Dwindling resources, hiring freezes, The Truth About Resume Lies. By charles About Job Market,, August administrative policies, and new state Purdy, Yahoo!HotJobs, April 010: http:// 10, 010: mandates often dictate much of the agenda 9614/Productivity_Decline_Adds_To_ for the information technology professional. truth_about_resume_lies-1194 Worries_About_Job_Marketw A feeling of ‘loss of control’ is voiced both by 6 managers and their subordinates. Sometimes, Productivity Decline Suggests Hiring information management specialists joke Spending_Continues_to_Rise Needed,, August 11, 010: that the most important skill of their trade is 7 organizational politics.”, Emotional Climate in “with many unemployed IT people today, index.ssf/2010/08/productivity_falls_ the Informational Technology Organization: one would think that finding a suitable 09_percent.html Crisis or Crossroads? By margaret G. massey candidate has become easier, but it has and Deborah w. Stedman, http://net.educause not…There are very few [IT candidates] Productivity and Costs, Third Quarter .edu/ir/library/pdf/CEM9543.pdf who have everything we look for or need. 2010, Preliminary, Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 4, 010: http:// Challenges of Information Technology “I would say there is a shortage of good Management in the 21st Century, Page 7: IT professionals today. By good, I mean prod2.nr0.htm highly-skilled, consistent performers who 5 kmWgCdq=information+technology+wo are willing to tackle new applications—** A 010 Farleigh Dickinson University rker+stresssource=gbs_navlinks_s or new to them.”, Haley IT Staffing report states that “workers are on the Interviews with Information Technology brink of a meltdown.” Fairleigh Dickinson How to Stop Making Staffing Mistakes, cIO. Executives, October/November, 010 University reports that 75 percent of com, November 9, 007: http://www.cio. 8 workers in the United States describe com/article/160050/Staffing_How_to_Stop Hudson IT Leadership Series white their jobs as stressful, and estimates _Making_Hiring_Mistakes Paper: 5 Emerging Trends Affecting that workplace stress and the related IT Staff in the Recovery 4 physical problems cost American “There really is a critical—and worsening— employers approximately $00 shortage of IT professionals today. Because of billion annually. the Baby Boomer drop off effect. It’s becoming increasingly hard to find a combination of*** Work Stress—What is It?, good technical skills and communication skills.”, march 009: Haley IT Staffing Interviews with Information publication/231/work-stress Technology Executives, October/November, 010 HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES 1
  • 13. ABOUT HUDSON ITHudson IT provides solutions necessary for IT leaders to deliver business value. Our IT consulting services bring expertise to assess, manage,develop and maintain your critical initiatives, while our staffing services provide specialized professionals on an as-needed basis, allowing youto maintain IT service levels with reduced fixed costs. Backed by global recruitment resources, we draw upon our multiple capabilities to designthe best solution for each company’s need. Hudson IT is a part of Hudson (NASDAQ: HHGP) with nearly ,000 professionals serving clients inmore than 0 countries.Find more “Tips for IT Leaders” in our Resource center online: | @HudsonIT HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES 1