Why is it taking longer than ever to find -- and land -- IT professionals with the right stuff? In Computerworld's most recent hiring survey, more than two-thirds of the respondents said they expect their companies to be bringing on new IT staffers within the next 12 months, and 88 percent said their employers were experiencing a skills shortage.
The demand is there, but where are the candidates? In Computerworld's companion salary survey, only 9 percent of IT workers polled said that they're actively looking for a job, and 63 percent reported feeling secure or very secure in their current position.
Experts say another part of the problem is that hiring managers are increasingly looking to unearth IT professionals with precise skills to meet specific needs, such as SAP Business Warehouse experts with experience in the pharmaceutical industry.
Even when candidates are available, a lack of preparation by hiring managers or a disconnect between IT and human resources can slow the process.
"Interviewing is tough, especially if you haven't done a great deal of preparation," says Tom Nodar, vice president of the project management office at Axis Insurance, a specialty insurer.
Before the first interview is conducted, hiring managers should assess the needed skills, develop a thorough job specification, conduct market research, and determine salary ranges and flexibility around compensation, says Nodar.
"All of this cannot just be dumped on HR," says Nodar. He suggests blocking out a half-day for applicant interviews, followed by a collaboration session with HR and other managers.
It also helps to quickly determine whether an applicant's personality is a fit. John Roulat, vice president of IT at Carl Zeiss, a medical technology manufacturer in Thornwood, N.Y., says that in one case, he asked senior SAP analysts he was interviewing to describe situations in which they demonstrated key personality characteristics that the company was seeking in applicants for the posted job.
Since the SAP analysts would be on the front lines of business development and support and working directly with internal customers, Roulat says he thought it was important for candidates to meet those personality requirements.
Using an outside recruiter can also slow down the hiring process. While it's not always possible to find and recruit IT workers directly, using a recruitment firm "tends to add a tremendous amount of latency," says David Dart, regional head of IT at HSH-Nordbank in New York.
Dart says that when he uses recruitment firms, he often ends up interviewing a number of candidates or reviewing resume's for people "who are not appropriate." So whenever possible, he tries to recruit and hire people who are introduced to him through personal recommendations. That, he says, "cuts out the middleman."