Monthly Archives: June 2012

Leading in Technical Engineering

Technical recruiters who want to best understand how to identify top candidates for technical engineering positions should have a good understanding of the role of a technical engineering leader. The ability to recognize leadership traits & categorize leadership ability or potential separately from other good professional qualities will make recruiting for management-level technical engineering roles easier. Directors in technical recruiting understand that there are technical, functional & interpersonal aspects of technical leadership. A technical engineer in a leadership function needs to have a range of skill-sets that a technical professional in non-management levels of the same role may not have, or need — at least until he or she advances into a leadership role!

The important skills – what should IT recruiters know about the skills a technical engineer should have when coaching a technical canditate seeking to enter a leadership role for the first time? A technical engineer expecting to enter a management role should be prepared to collaborate with product management to define a product roadmap, hiring motivated employees, interfacing regularly with senior management, and adressing budgeting concerns. Management in IT is different from non-management technical positions, so technical recruiters and technical candidates who understand what’s involved to make the leap will be best positioned to reap the benefits of the preparation.

Corporate Technical Talent Acquisition

Solid strategies for corporate technical talent acquisition is necessary for any successful IT recruiting company. One of the key components of workforce planning is the ability to accurately predict. Technical recruiters who understand the needs of client firms they represent will be able to cater to those client’s needs much better than IT recruiters who simply try to make a match between HR bullet points on a job description & a potential candidate’s resume. The trick for recruiting professionals is to avoid the common trap of feeling constantly stuck in a reactive mode – reacting to a client’s feedback, reacting to a technical candidate unexpectedly backing out of an offer to accept an alternate offer, or any number of other reactive scenarios.

A second key factor in the IT recruiting process is the use of sophisticated technological sourcing tools. Top technical candidates can be a challenge to find, so a comprehensive recruiting strategy can lead to technical candidate contacts from a variety of sources. In the technical recruiting industry, relationships are key. An increasingly global economy can make maintaining some of those relationships difficult, given the obstacles of time differences, office phone systems that may not be set up for international calls, and the potential lag time involved in contacting someone primarily by email.

Sourcing: Finding Premier Technical Talent

The challenge IT recruiting companies face when trying to find top technical talent for advance IT roles is to know where to find them. Technical candidates operating at high technology & income levels may not post their resumes in high-traffic job-seeking sites like Monster or Careerbuilder. These technically advanced candidates may have Linkedin profiles, however. Unfortunately, it’s generally calculated that only 50% of the professional population has created an online profile. While it means a lot of technical professionals do have searchable profiles, it also means that 50% of the professional population doesn’t have any presence on Linkedin, and can’t be reached through the career-focused social networking site. As IT recruiters know, even when staff at a technical recruiting firm do identify a promising resume on Linkedin, the trick is to identify whether or not they are seeking new employment.

With Linkedin’s increased popularity, competitor career networking sites have sprung up across the web. Finding these sites through search terms typed into a search engine can generate potential leads for IT staffers. Technical recruiters who join these types of sites and actively peruse profiles & contact eligible candidates may find this method of finding high-quality technical candidates useful. Staying ahead of the competition in IT recruiting means thinking outside the box, and taking advantage of tools other technical recuiters may not be aware of. Thinking in the margin will get IT recruiters ahead, and that’s an opportunity no technical recruiting firm can afford to forfeit.

Strategies for Engagement in the Responsibilities of a Technical Role

Technical recruiters know that the highest chances of successful performance in a high-tech role involve technical candidates who are fully engaged in the nuances of a technical role, within & outside of the work day. The career IT contractor who focuses on technical skill-sets during office hours will never reach the level of accomplishment & engagement in his or her role that the technical contractor for whom the industry is a passion will. Strategies for full engagement involve maximizing the venues available to a technical candidate for reinforcing & building on technical knowledge.

One of those venues is the home. Technical candidates who use some of their evenings at home, or free time on weekends to expand their technical literacy levels will be in line for promotion, because they’ll be able to perform at higher levels during the week day than those who don’t. Making use of educational tools is another strategy that can result in significant payoff in terms of skills acquired & potential for an increase in income. Enrolling in courses or tutorials online in high-demand technical skillsets can capitalize on a technical contractor’s marketability. Libraries may also be a good resource, allowing cost control by offering free borrowing services.

Finally, higher education has a strong impact on income. IT recruiters know that a graduate-level degree or coursework on a resume will make getting the contractor placed through a technical staffing firm easier, and the hiring decision process shorter.

Well-Rounded Technical Candidates: A Constellation of Skills

What does the profile of a well-rounded technical candidate look like? The kind of candidate technical employers want to interview, and  the kind of person IT staffers want to get on the phone. The answer is that what’s timeless in an ever-changing industry is a constellation of skills with strong technical ability central. The skillset required by top technical employers is threefold: cognitive, emotional & social. A highly technically proficient candidate could easily miss out on emotional intelligence due to a preference to sit alone at a desk coding rather than socializing. While this personality trait is a key determinant of a candidate in the technology industry, versus an industry like sales that is social-centric, taken to an extreme, it can limit an intelligent candidate’s ability to be upwardly mobile. The successful technical candidate needs to invest some time and energy into building effective communication skills, have the ability to negotiate compromises, and solve interpersonal challenges. These abilities are what make technical candidates part of a team, rather than just a set of accomplishments and skills.

Technical candidates who possess a well-rounded balance of skills can both complete their job responsiblities and articulate company agendas when necessary. Technical recruiting firms will always make time to interview and place technical candidates at this performance level. These types of candidates can rise to leadership positions, and fulfill the interpersonal aspects of those roles competently. The synthesis of these skills with a good educational grounding in technical abilities, and the drive to stay on top of new developments in the industry, and train to keep pace with them, is what makes an efficient and irreplaceable member of a technical team.

Re-Adjusting Existing Paradigms in Technology Education

In the interest of cultivating the future technical candidates of tomorrow, educational institutions need to assess the paradigms currently in place for technology education, and recognize the ways in which they need to change. In the rapidly evolving high-tech industry, the leaders in the technology field are not only technically proficient — they need to have strong critical thinking skills and solid communication skills. These are the “soft skills” that supplement the technical expertise of the top-earning technical consultants, and that are the critical factor in their income levels. Technical employers need IT staff that can not only deliver on the technical side, but that can also operate successfully as a member of a team, and as contributor to company culture.

In an increasingly competitive, technology-driven part of history, customers no longer have a small range of choices when it comes to selecting technology services. For that reason, the service itself loses central importance, since so many competitors are offering comparable products, and the true distingishing factor becomes the relationship companies maintain with their customer bases. The ability to build and keep those relationships, and by association, keep client retention rates high, depends on techncial candidates committed to that mission. It also necessitates a certain level of communication and critical thinking ability when challenges do arise. The technical candidates that are able to display those qualities will always have an IT staffer‘s ear, and lots of options when contacting technical recruiting firms.

Building Digital Literacy in the High Tech Industry

It’s said that the 21st century is the information age. Yet, despite a societal overload of information, technical employers often have difficulty finding technical candidates at the knowledge & performance level that they require for company operations. The gap between employer demand and job-seeker skill-sets indicates a lack of digital literacy in the high tech industry. Technical candidates currently working outside the IT industry, and looking to make a lucrative switch into the high-tech world can bolster their marketability by increasing their digital literacy levels. Technical candidates who develop a detailed plan of action for technical self-educating will give themselves a competive advantage over other candidates.

Speaking and meeting with IT recruiters can be an extremely valuable part of the game plan for a technical candidate. Technical staffers have a bird’s eye view of the technical industry, are familiar with the key players, and know what pay grade ranges specific technical skill sets bring, and what level of performance within those skill-sets technical employers require. IT staffers speak with technical employers on a nearly daily basis, and have a good grasp of what they’re looking for. Whether it’s interview tips, resume polishing, or basic skillsets, an IT staffing company can be an excellent resource for a consultant looking to build his or her digital literacy.

Recruiting High School Students for Tech

A high school student who takes on coursework directed at a college degree in computer science and a career in tech can look forward to job security, high income levels, and high employer demand. Enrolling in a tech program in college gives a student more marketability in the job market as a sought-after technical candidate. Technical consultants have lots of job options, little to no gaps in employment between jobs, and a skillset that gets increasingly lucrative as they build years of experience in the technical field. As technical recruiters know, the tech workforce needs more players, and anything a high school student can do to jump-start a career in tech early will pay off for them handsomely in the long run.

A greater social awareness of the value of technical skills could lead to more technically skilled young people entering the workforce after graduation. Mentors and career counselors on both the high school and college level should emphasize the importance and earnings potential of a career in tech. IT recruiters can meet with high school students and present the advantages of a technical career and host Q & A sessions that allow students to ask questions and fully consider the potential of a career in high-tech.

The Next Generation of IT Experts

As a society and an economy, the need for technical specialists is global. In an age increasingly dependent on technology, the demand for technical consultants is massive and growing. How do educators cultivate interest in technology in grade and high-schoolers in order to motivate the next generation of technical talent? There are 3 levels on which the cultural & societal biases affect a young person’s exposure to the idea of the field of high-tech as an attractive career path.

The first is reputation. The prevalent social bias is that a career in high-tech is stereotyped as lacking glamor. When high school students envision a dream career, they are culturally pre-programmed to daydream about lucrative careers in the entertainment industry – becoming a pop sensation, or a competitive dancer. Careers that require a higher qualification level than pure talent supplemented with training, but which still project a socially glamourous image — being a hot shot lawyer or politician, also make young people’s radars as a dream job, but a career in tech doesn’t usually strike young imaginations the same way.

The second is a basic lack of information. It’s rare for Java experts to come to a high school and talk about their passion for tech, or even for IT recruiters to visit high schools to network with a potential new crop of tech experts. Teachers who introduce the topic in the classroom, and invite technical colleagues to give presentations in class can potentially spark interest in students still trying to make decisions about a career path. In addition, more classes in computer science can add to student’s knowledge of tech and comfort level with it. The fact that many students take their first computer science course as a college requirement is indicative of the dearth of teaching available on this topic on the pre-secondary education level.

Lastly, the family environment on the microcosmic level (in the US, at least), doesn’t emphasize the importance of advanced technical skills. While parents may stress as part of basic parental advice the significance of academic achievement, good writing & spelling skills, or communication abilities in general, conversations about how lucrative and in-demand high tech skills can be are far from commonplace. Parents who suggest that their children meet with IT recruiters in high school and college to consider the advantages of gaining technical expertise, or speak with counselors to weigh pros and cons will have fully explored options for high levels of income that their peers may never have realized were available. Now that’s competitive advantage.

What Makes a Work Environment Desirable for a Technical Professional?

IT staffers working with top-performing technical candidates know that when it comes to choosing a company, reputation matters. IT professionals at the top of their game want to work for a company that both compensates them well, and has a sterling, instantly recognicable reputation. Driven professionals who worked hard to get where they are now in their career will be conscious of prestige, and hold out for a company that they can be proud to be associated with, and tell friends and family about. In addition, top technical consultants expect a certain level of respect, and will be aware of companies with a reputation for not treating employees well. An IT staffer who tries to interest an advanced technical candidate in a company that falls into this category will be wasting both parties time. These professionals have expectations, and they won’t settle for less than what they’ve come to be familar with in a job environment.

Technical staffing agencies that cultivate good relationships with the best companies on the market, and have a good grasp of which companies have the highest employee retention and satisfaction rates will be able to make better matches with technical candidates that IT firms that aren’t as knowledgeable about these dynamics. Recognition is also important. Top technical talent works hard and efficiently, and if there is no recognition from the company they work for that this type of work ethic sets them apart from the average employee and deserves commendation, the technical consultants will go elsewhere. An IT headhunter who keeps close tabs on the companies that have both the atmosphere, compensation, and recognition levels that top IT techs require will have the best success levels placing candidates, and keeping them.