Hunting IT rockstars

Executive search for IT experts

My cell phone lit up with the old blues rock classic “Bad to the Bone”. The caller was the HR Manager from an IT company I know well. He had a problem

“”Our SharePoint expert from customer services resigned a few months ago. Now the guy is already working for another company”, he started.

“We needed a replacement. I wrote a job ad and broadcasted it in a few job boards” he told me. “Then I lifted up my feet, leaned way back in my office chair, and waited until we could pick the very best candidate out of the many applicants.”

By the end of the application time, the HR Manager had 50 emails waiting for him.

“There were a couple of applicants with promising CVs. However, in the interviews they turned out to be poorly suited for customer service work”, the HR Manager continued.

“It’s now been two months since the old specialist left the company, and we haven’t found a replacement. The Business Unit Manager is complaining everyday about unfinished work. Customers are already threatening to cancel their service agreements. Can you help me?”

Recruiting IT professionals through executive search

According to a global survey, the biggest challenge for the growth of IT companies is the supply of skillful labor.

Most IT professionals work in a hectic environment. When one’s current job is also interesting and rewarding, there is not much reason or time to keep track of what else is available on the job market. These kinds of professionals are practically impossible to reach through job boards.

The only way to efficiently make yourself heard is to inform them personally about new job opportunities. A company can ask its own employees to spread the word through their networks. A manager or HR department looking to recruit can also look for potential employees from social media or CV banks, and approach them directly.

Companies can also leave it to professionals to find them new talent. They will systematically map out potential candidates and contact them. A headhunter finds out how suitable and interested the candidates are.

The executive search method, which was previously only used for recruiting senior management and board members, is currently being successfully implemented in finding IT professionals. The development of new technologies – especially social media – has made headhunting a cost-efficient option.

When should headhunting be used?

Many recruiters take up headhunting only after they have failed to find a suitable employee through other means.

If headhunting is used from the start, the recruiting process can be completed quicker. There is no time wasted on creating and sending out advertisements or waiting for applications. The company’s own resources are focused only on applicants whose profiles fit the task.

Headhunting is especially successful in recruiting professionals when:

  • You are seeking highly contested professionals with specialized skills.
  • You want only the best person for the job.
  • Your company is not well known among the target group, or your appeal as an employer needs work.

Although headhunting works even by itself, occasionally a combination of headhunting and job boards is the most efficient solution.

Epilogue

I met with the HR Manager, and we agreed to commence an executive search.

Our company compiled a list of possible persons with the required technical skills. We called each of them and found out what their areas of expertise were. At the same time, we introduced them to the recruiting company and the job. If the person wanted to continue the process, we interviewed him or her more closely to get to know them.
The recruiting manager met with a few selected candidates and offered the job to one of them.

Four weeks from rocking out to “Bad to the Bone”, the manager signed a job contract with his new employee.

To put a new spin on the old saying about Muhammad and the mountain: if the employee won’t come to you, you must go to the employee!

About the author
Ilpo Järvenpää
Recruitment Consultant, CEO