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IT Recruiting by Generation: One Size Does Not Fit All

IT Recruiting by Generation: One Size Does Not Fit All

By: John Rossheim

Whether you’re looking to hire a Java developer or an IT manager, you’ll be much more successful at recruiting IT talent if you pay attention to the candidate’s vintage.

Today’s diverse candidate pool includes Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. Here are expert tips for pitching tech opportunities and recruiting IT by generation.


Understand Millennials.
Face it: Many of today’s younger software wizards simply will not accept a long-term commitment. You need to accept this – and recruiters need to accept this as well. Find a way to work with the young and restless.

"Clients come to us for direct hires, but candidates don’t want to work for one company, they want to move on to the next thing," says Julie Desmond, IT and software engineering recruiting manager at search firm George Konik Associates  in Minneapolis.

“We have to think about the young candidates for positions like software engineer," says Ian Dawson, senior vice president of global solutions at Randstad Sourceright. "We talk to them about what they want. Are they even looking for a permanent position?"

Hang out where young talent hangs out.
To source fresh IT talent effectively, you have to discover where they spend time. "Young people have been absenting themselves from LinkedIn," says Dawson.

"You have to find out where these people hang out. They're on collaborative sites like GitHub and StackOverflow, where people can register themselves as available for work and you can see examples of their expertise and their coding."

“It’s true — IT candidates are collaborating on on GitHub and answering questions from fellow programmers on StackOverflow,” says Peter Kazanjy, founder of TalentBin® by Monster, a technical talent search engine. “It’s important for sourcers to think about harnessing the power of this open web data,” adds Kazanjy. “It can be done manually or by using specialized tools such as TalentBin’s extensive talent search engine.”

Make the argument for brilliant candidates with unconventional training.
Many HR departments find security in candidates with traditional credentials, but some of the best programmers lack them.

“There’s a zero percent unemployment rate in cybersecurity," says Mark Aiello, president of Cyber 360 Solutions in Wakefield, Mass.

"We’re not growing these people; we’re not expanding the pool; software engineering isn't taught in universities. We need to relax restrictions, for example, to consider grads of community college IT programs, which are generally doing a really good job of training programmers."
Advise your client to brand for free spirits.
Much top young IT talent doesn’t care for conventional employment — but that doesn't mean they don't care about who they work for.

"We’ve worked very hard with clients on their employment brand and their value proposition for the type of individuals who want to take off three months to go snowboarding in New Zealand," says Dawson. "We get clients to put forward their cutting edge technology projects to attract these types."

During the interview process, consider bringing in one of the company’s IT project managers to pitch a hot candidate on the company’s latest and greatest IT investment.

Don't discount potential leaders who have less experience.
The right Millennial may make a great executive, even without decades of experience. So pitch their fresh perspective as a positive.

"With maturity also comes a fear of the unknown and a desire to gravitate towards the job security of building everything yourself," says Scott Maurice, manager partner at IT consulting firm Avail Partners.


Find seasoned leaders who can align technologists with the business.
“Technical people who understand the business — that’s where companies are falling short," says Desmond.

"Companies need to back off looking for industry knowledge and understand that they can learn this stuff. Software engineers who have to gather requirements from customers — we need people who can interface with clients."

Source senior talent that harnesses data to paint the big picture.
Companies seek IT leaders who have the long perspective to cull meaning from data.

"Executives are asking their IT departments to analyze scattered data, and often huge amounts of data," says Julie Desmond from at search firm George Konik Associates. "You have to have people who know how to create databases and SQL reports — and make sense of it all."


Don't let clients write off job hoppers out of hand.
If your client's HR people or managers automatically reject hired hands such as web developers who have never held a job for five years, you've got to bring them around.

“'This guy’s been here for two years, here for three years — that doesn't carry a stigma anymore," says John Reed, senior executive director at staffing firm Robert Half Technology.

Look for IT leaders who want to serve the business.
"When you talk to candidates for IT leadership positions, listen for their excitement about working with the client's different lines of business," says Dawson.

"Find out how they've built teams and worked with people across the business."