1. TOO OvERwHELmED TO
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 from
the prevailing dilemna keeping today’s IT organizations all over the country and captured their thoughts about this troubling state of
hiring managers up at night. Less time, business. Here’s what we learned:
less money, fewer resources…and tighter
deadlines. The pressure is relentless, and • imeisnottheonlyscarceresource.
T • candidates are demanding more
IT departments are struggling to cope. Budget dollars and talent constraints control over their careers and are
are also impeding many IT departments’ lesswillingtotoleratedelays
On a positive note, budgets are finally ability to get things done. inthehiringprocess.
unfreezing and allocations are being
made for both contract and full-time • Despite all the press about high unemployment, • IT departments need help, but they
hires. Yet that may not be enough. toptechnicalprofessionalsremainscarce. have notimetoplanandnotime
There is a pervasive sense among workers
in general—and IT professionals in
particular—of being absolutely overloaded.
Of barely keeping up with the tasks and
projects that need to be done. Technology
professionals feel that they “should”
be able to complete tasks quickly and
instantly, and end up feeling inadequate
that they cannot.
This is not the usual “too much to do and
too little time to do it” archetype of recent
years—this is palpable despair of
– being overwhelmed,
– feeling incapable of meeting
– seeing no clear way out or
solution for the problem.
HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES
3. ExEcUTIvE SUmmARY
Based on this input from IT leaders, Hudson identified four primary barriers to hiring, along with five strategies for overcoming the
constraints, minimizing the stress and finding the time to hire right. The remainder of this paper confronts these issues and explains how
some managers are coping with the current state of affairs. Highlights of our recommended strategies are shown below.
5 STRATEGIES TO HIRE “RIGHT”
B 4 sestaffaugmentationmore
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.
S 5 topgoingitalone.
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.
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 hire
right, 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 best
practices in hiring and staffing. consider the following issues:
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:
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
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 HireRight.com, 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”
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 cIO.com 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.
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.
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 HIRING
STRESSINTODAY’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
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
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
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.
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
• 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
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.
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
HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES 8
9. 5 STRATEGIES TO HELP EASE THE LOAD
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
• 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 RIGHT
Sourcing, vetting and hiring IT talent
has never been a greater challenge.
IT managers must overcome financial
constraints, talent shortages, demanding
candidates and, most significantly of
all, a lack of time to hire well.
But hiring right is not just a good idea,
it’s essential to the long-term success
of any IT department or, for that matter,
any company. Information technology
is the core of innovation, efficiency,
business intelligence and long-term
considering that top IT professionals can
be 1,000 percent more productive than
their peers, hiring right should be the wE REcOmmEND THE
single most important goal of any
technology manager. FOLLOwING TIPS FOR IT
1 learly define and demonstrate to senior management the link between
hiring and productivity, efficiency and your company’s bottom line.
2 eengineer your hiring process to improve sourcing and minimize delays.
3 ire contractors for lower-level work and put your stars on your
4 hink strategically about your staff augmentation efforts.
5 ducate your IT staffing partner(s) as to what you really need in IT
talent. Give them the information they need—and the mandate—to be
HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES 10
11. HOw TO wORK wITH AN IT STAFFING vENDOR
For those who deal with IT staffing Setexpectationsfromtheoutset. Defineyourexpectationsforcandidate
challenges every day, a strong • Define your expectations for vendor orientationandtraining.Whatcould
relationship 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 quality
technology talent can be a How do you want the staffing firm to control checks and follow-ups do you
great asset. communicate with you? need or prefer?
• Define quality standards. Provide a clear
This whitepaper touched a bit on (and detailed) list of requirements for every
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 ordering
more 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
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
* Productivity Decline Adds to Worries “Dwindling resources, hiring freezes, The Truth About Resume Lies. By charles
About Job Market, cNBc.com, August administrative policies, and new state Purdy, Yahoo!HotJobs, April 010: http://
10, 010: http://wwcnbc.com/id/3863 mandates often dictate much of the agenda hotjobs.yahoo.com/career-articles-the_
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
managers and their subordinates. Sometimes, http://www.cio.com/article/618267/IT_
Productivity Decline Suggests Hiring information management specialists joke Spending_Continues_to_Rise
Needed, AP.com, August 11, 010: that the most important skill of their trade is
http://www.oregonlive.com/business/ 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
www.bls.gov/news.release/ Management in the 21st Century, Page 7: IT professionals today. By good, I mean
prod2.nr0.htm http://books.google.com/books?id=J1u7Mb 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.
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
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? catalyst.org, good technical skills and communication skills.”,
march 009: http://www.catalyst.org/ Haley IT Staffing Interviews with Information
publication/231/work-stress Technology Executives, October/November,
HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES 1
13. ABOUT HUDSON IT
Hudson 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 you
to maintain IT service levels with reduced fixed costs. Backed by global recruitment resources, we draw upon our multiple capabilities to design
the best solution for each company’s need. Hudson IT is a part of Hudson (NASDAQ: HHGP) with nearly ,000 professionals serving clients in
more than 0 countries.
Find more “Tips for IT Leaders” in our Resource center online: us.hudson.com/IT | @HudsonIT
HUDSON IT LEADERSHIP SERIES 1