Editor’s note: Bob Broda is president of VisageSolutions, LLC, and is a regular contributor to Local Tech Wire.IT professionals are facing a dilemma. Conversely, hiring managers – the few of them out that are still out there – are being shortchanged from finding the best people available.
For some background: I started my career as a programmer in 1976 and was very hands on until about 10 years ago. I went through the boom years of a technology change every four years, since that is how IBM made its money in those days. I wrote well over 1500 programs in a variety of languages, from traditional mainframe languages to the new scripting languages in client server environments. Some of those languages are still very well established; others have died a very painful death.
I was a consultant for most of my career and besides programming, assisted on major projects as a systems programmer, DBA, lead architect, team leader, project and program manager. My career progressed to where I was running a software company for an international conglomerate. As you can tell, I have had quite an extensive technical career as well as management expertise.
As a manager, I have had the opportunity to hire over 750 people. Hiring included reviewing resumes, phone screening, interviewing people, and being the decision-maker. I have also been laid off. I have been a leader in some unemployment networking groups, consulting a number of individuals on resumes and career positioning.
I have also been in the unfortunate position of firing more than 100 people for non-performance and laying off one-third of my staff while running a software company. Given this array of experience of being on almost all sides of the hiring and laying off process, I feel I am well qualified in most aspects of the employment situation.
A look at both sides
As everyone knows, there are thousands of technical people currently looking for jobs. What makes it more difficult is that the typical technical person is not used to being unemployed. Until recently, they always had jobs before quitting a job in which they had become dissatisfied. In addition, technicians are usually more comfortable in front of a keyboard than networking with people; they would rather write in a scripted language instead of English. And making resumes look presentable is not a forte.
Competition is fierce, and those technical people not willing or able to make the transition will risk not finding employment in this new environment.
On the other side of the fence, companies are still hiring. Hiring mangers of such companies are under enormous pressure. They are working on limited resources, have little time to screen candidates and interview people. They often are rather inexperienced in hiring personnel. Further, thousands of people are applying for the same position, so hiring managers are forced into using the Human Resources department to weed out as many candidates in order to simplify their lives.
Many excellent candidates are slipping through the cracks: they may have the skills required, but they often are either not able to communicate them effectively or the HR department is unable to recognize them. This dilemma often creates a perception that the fault lies with the HR department. However, the reality belies first impressions. An example: the overtaxed hiring manager tells the HR department to find a person with 10 years experience in C# (sharp), Oracle database, .Net experience.
There are two problems with this scenario on the demands being made. First, the ideal candidate simply does not exist, and secondly the hiring manager really needs a person who can deal with the business executive or manager; understand the logic of the program; can integrate the need of the customer and the technical information in such a way so that progress can be made within a reasonable time frame, and such that the solution does not have a negative impact on other aspects of the business or information system.
A complicating factor is that it is hard to tell how well a new hire will fit in until after he or she has been working for an extended period of time – often as long as six months.
What can be done?
So, what can be done to help relieve the current hiring dilemma on both sides of the fence – for the technical worker and for the hiring manager and his/her HR representative?
The job seekers need to seek help in building their resumes providing a business-friendly slant. Technical jargon in the resume should be eliminated, but key words for the business field should be used in the resume in order to have the resume selected by the scanning software.
In addition, job seekers need to build their networks and use them extensively. My advice would be to join some clubs and become active and to allow people to get to know you as a person – and let them know you are looking!
The jobseeker should look for ways to upgrade skills, learn new technologies, make personal changes that will improve one’s chances of getting selected, and extend beyond one’s former technical and associative boundaries! Also become certified in technologies, the search engines are looking for the classification and although it doesn’t necessarily make you an expert, it will cause your resume to be reviewed.
Hiring managers should be careful in what they communicate to the hiring managers. The screening software will only do what it is programmed into it. If the requirements are not communicated properly to the person managing the screening, the selection process can become misdirected, extended, and grueling for all. Such a process is a drain on company financial resources as well as on corporate and individual morale.
HR professionals and hiring manages should recognize that being certified in a technology, does not necessarily make someone productive. It simply indicates that the holder was able to memorize a discipline and take a test. It does not identify if a person can be productive in your environment!
My final advice, and one I feel is most important, is that a company should hire for attitude. You can always train a person with a great attitude on any technology, but it’s difficult, if not impossible, to be effective in this environment without a great attitude!
Bob Broda can be reached at 919-271-3714 or firstname.lastname@example.org