7 problems with recruiting in IT, and the importance of Time [our small research]

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We talk a lot to recruiters, hiring managers, company owners, but also developers and programmers. We hear a lot about problems, so we decided to put them down, and come up with some solutions.

IT takes time

Time is expensive. According to Fastcompany.com, in the last 4 years alone, the price of recruiting went up from 13 to 23 days on average. And no one likes to waste something as precious as time. Recruiting in this field is becoming more difficult and more costly.

To anyone who has ever had to recruit an IT engineer, the first few pieces of information might sound eerily familiar, but we wanted a more comprehensive and in-depth look at the old, persistent, and new, tricky issues coming up when taking on this daunting task.

At Devskiller, we decided to do a little research to help us better understand where the problems in the market really are. We thought it would be wise to invest our time in finding out the real problems recruiters and hiring managers have, rather than waste it guessing what those problems might be. And being the nice, wise little ninja-owls we are, we decided to share this information with you.

Interviewing over 150 people who expressed interest in our ebook, I’ve personally spoken to CEOs, hiring managers and recruiters with the aim of better understanding the problems related to hiring. Together with our team, I also address these problems and share the experiences of people interviewed to help you avoid or resolve problems in your own hiring efforts. One of the first and most common complaints when it comes to the difficulty of recruiting in IT, unlike many other sectors of the economy, is definitely the time spent on sourcing and screening candidates.

Do you remember when recruiting in IT was quick?

Ooh I member

We don’t.

So… Time

The average time of the recruitment process varies significantly from source to source. It takes around 3 weeks, according to this article. The research I’ve done over the phone suggests roughly the same average timeframe, but after all, it is just the average. The actual time it takes to recruit varied significantly between the people I interviewed too. Some other data suggests even longer averages – have a look. Just for the record, the fastest recruiter took only 3 days to find a candidate. The company from the Netherlands, hired the services of an agency with an excellent team and working under the go-big-or-go-home motto, the agency delivered, claiming also their sizeable commission. On the other hand, in India, one recruitment effort took a stammering 90 days.

Although everyone hopes to hire quickly and hire well, the reality is that in most cases it doesn’t happen, and often you’ll be told you have to make compromises with quality or budget differently for higher recruitment costs. But that isn’t necessarily true. You can actually cut the time you spend on recruiting techies without any risks.

Cut time? What?

tim-and-eric-mind-blown

Okay, it isn’t that hard to get your head around the idea that you can save time, but finding a way how to do that isn’t easy. Worry not! We’re here. We got you.

Before we get to saving time, let’s look at more problems. Yay!

“I found the candidates, but only then did the real problems start appearing”, said one of the hiring managers I spoke to.

That’s right. The real work only starts when you find the candidates you want to consider, “in there somewhere”, you hope, “is the gem I am looking for.”

Here are the 7 things that you might encounter after you select a shortlist of your candidates

1. Candidates don’t bother showing up

This seemed to be a major problem in the Eastern hemisphere. The recruiters did the hard work – they sourced, screened and invited candidates for the interview, prepared for it, just to find themselves back to square one.
No, it isn’t fair, but in a candidate driven market like IT, you can’t spend time sulking.

2. The candidate says “no”

Another point related to the first one is when a candidate just says “no”. You’ve covered the job, the salary ranges, and expectations early on in the process, but when the time for a decision comes, the candidate still decides against joining your team. There could be many reasons for it, but here you can find helpful tips related to both points 1 and 2.

3. Lies, lies and more lies

“Yeah… Of course, I know Javascript! I’m awesome! Click, type, type, type, click

Let’s not say “lying”, but rather “stretching the truth”. No matter the term, it is a recurring problem many recruiters and hiring managers experience. In many respects it is expected of candidates to over-sell themselves, but to blatantly lie just doesn’t make much sense. Fortunately, there are ways of sifting through the fiction. We’ll get to that in a bit.

4. Junior vs. Senior developers

Overall junior developers are easier to recruit, even our data leans that way, but isn’t definite. One recruiter from Macedonia highlighted that he found it difficult recruiting juniors, being unsure of their actual skill and whether they had any real experiences with delivering on time. However, overall junior developers are up and coming. With plenty of free platforms online where basic coding is taught cheaply or for free, it’s important to snatch them while they’re still young.

Seniors, however, are a real nightmare. Normally, if you want to find a qualified developer you will have to pay better and tempt them out of their, probably already comfortable position. If you are just gearing up to recruit some serious Devs, know you’re in for a killer task.

5. English

English is the world’s language. Being able to use it well is still quite a big problem for some. People from less developed countries are quickly catching up however, and I don’t see this being an issue that will stay around for much longer. It still made the list.

6. Biased Interviews

This is an interesting one. It won’t come up often, and for that reason exactly it is often overlooked. An interviewer is still a person. Disregarding intentional effort to promote a weaker candidate for personal reasons, an interviewer can in fact subconsciously dislike or fancy a candidate without examining any objective criteria.

In fact keep an eye out for another one of our blogposts that will go into much more detail on this issue. Our very own Tom Winter is cooking up something great in the coming post.

7. Broad skills required

When hiring someone, you’re probably not looking for a developer who knows just Ruby. You would like a candidate who knows all the frameworks associated with it, and perhaps a few other languages too. Finding a candidate with this broad talent will be difficult.

So let’s recap:

People I’ve spoken too have given us great insights. All of them agree time is an issue, but more than that there are these 7 problems you can expect when recruiting programmers:

  • Candidates might not show up for the interview
  • The candidate can say “no” to your final offer
  • The candidate might lie on their resume
  • You might need a very experienced developer
  • They might lack English skills, even though they are technically good
  • The interviewer might be biased
  • You might require someone who should have broader knowledge

And of course, time.

Here comes the fun part – suggesting some solutions:

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We love that part!

Here at DevSkiller we are dedicated to providing value for our clients and broader, to people in the field of IT recruitment. To start it off, let’s try solve the puzzle of saving time.

First off, when you consider time with relation to practically anything else: planning is always key. Determine your staffing needs as early on as possible, and set away time for recruitment. Take the average time necessary to recruit (4 weeks) and use that as guidance.

Take the time to understand the position you’re recruiting for yourself first, explain it to yourself, then to someone else, then to a child. If you’re unable, you don’t understand it very well. Besides understanding the job, you also have to describe it well.

When posting a job advertisement you’ll want to be as clear and as concise as possible to ensure you attract the right people. Use simple and attractive language and any other tricks you’ve learned along the way. Use a peacock’s strategy not just for your job description but to market yourself and the company too.

Making your company, together with the vacancy seem more attractive will certainly save you time in engaging talent, so spend time working on image and wording of your job posts.

You can also use other (more practical, hard) tools we mention below and try cut that time down further.

Moving on to the first specific point:

when candidates don’t show up, first blame yourself. It’s better. You’ll always encounter people with less decency than most, you won’t understand them or their actions, but as so far as your recruitment effort goes, that doesn’t matter.

You, being a professional, dedicated recruiter, need to work on your communication. Be clear when communicating. Highlight dates and times in your emails (always have things in writing!If you agree on things over the phone, confirm with an email) will help. Agree on things well in advance, but make sure you follow up before the meeting is set. Assume that the candidate suffers from short-term memory loss.

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They say “no”, and you don’t know why. Again, reevaluate where you might have miscommunicated. Use that situation to gather information from the candidate, and not be furious with them. They could be fishing for more money, or they were testing the field, in either case, you need to be ready for this situation, so always have a Plan B.

Have other candidates lined up, and never settle for only one, no matter how much you like them. There are plenty of fish in the sea, sorry Dory.

Lies. Here you can really invest in great tools. To save yourselves the trouble of evaluating CVs and candidates individually, you can use some of the testing programs available to truly test the skills, for example Codility or Hackerrank, or better yet our very own testing tool, here at DevSkiller. Truth be told, some options are better suited to certain needs, so it is best to look out for what suits your needs best. You can sign up for a free trial with us to learn more about what you need.

Another aspect to consider when using these tools is that you can test a larger number of candidates. Many fall through the initial screening process because they don’t have fluffed up CVs but are actually good developers, we’ve seen it happen. To avoid this and increase your pool of candidates, use these tools as early on as possible and don’t drop that hidden pearl into the void.

You need experienced talent? Well, not much we can do here, except tell you the truth. It costs money. You can compromise, try and outsource to programmers in cheaper countries, but be aware that it all comes at a cost. Best is to know, that, before anything else, it will cost you money.

English… is problem… Very big… Worry, not! As we said, it’s slowly going away. But if you need to address the problem now, you might want to offer language courses to your developers as a part of their employment. It’s becoming cheaper and easier to learn languages with many tools available online, so the costs are going down. In any case, it will most often be the case that English will be learnt faster than a programming language.

This certainly won’t be a frequent problem, but here’s a few simple things to do to avoid being or having a biased interviewer. You can call in multiple people to an interview. Have colleagues sit in with you and give you their opinion and discuss the candidate. You can personally, be mindful, not to lean towards personal preferences but try and be objective, or use a grading system to evaluate candidates.

If you require broader skills from a developer, you’ll have a tough time recruiting. Many developers are much better in some respects and not so good with others. A good way of determining that is to use a testing tool (some are mentioned above) to give the candidate a rank with regards to particular skill. On a broader level, you can try and invest in training, rather than recruiting. It will be cheaper and might attract more junior developers to join you and your team.

For more info on the process, get in touch with us over Twitter, Facebook or our website.

Happy hunting!

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You’re welcome!

 

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