From offering the right perks to defining IT shop culture, HR and IT can work together to get the recruiting details right.

Cindy Waxer, Contributor

August 16, 2012

4 Min Read

Microsoft Office 2013: 10 Best Features

Microsoft Office 2013: 10 Best Features

Microsoft Office 2013: 10 Best Features (click image for larger view and for slideshow)

Try as they might to hire just the right candidate, HR professionals can miss the mark when it comes to recruiting IT professionals. Software engineers with subpar skills, developers with the wrong certifications, network administrators who don't fit the corporate culture--they all can be the unfortunate by-products of an HR manager who doesn't find the right talent for an IT team.

How HR and IT professionals work together better to identify candidates who suit a company's IT requirements and culture? John Reed, senior executive director at Robert Half Technology, says HR managers must master three key areas when searching for IT talent, and suggests several ways that IT leaders can help HR ease the hiring process.

1. Speak the language. Obscure acronyms and high-tech jargon can easily prevent an HR manager from selecting a candidate with the right skill sets. It's easy to understand why. "If you're not a technical person and you're trying to interview a potential candidate, it can be difficult," said Reed. "That's because you might be looking at keywords in a job description and asking a candidate if they have experience in those areas when you really don't have the knowledge to delve into those technologies with a candidate. After all, it's one thing for a candidate to know what a tool is; it's another thing to really have proficiency in it."

[ Your best and brightest are always at risk of jumping ship. Learn How To Keep Your Best Talent. ]

2. Stay at high speed. Many HR managers are accustomed to taking their time to find just the right candidate. But although a thorough and lengthy search for a seasoned accountant or marketing executive might prove fruitful, it's more likely to lead to lost opportunities when dealing with IT professionals.

3. Customize the offer. Forget about a handsome salary and the occasional bonus. Although they can make a job offer enticing, Reed said, "People in technology are looking for the 'what else.'"

From perks such as subsidized transportation to flextime, he added that "IT professionals want to know that they're not just going to a place that meets their financial expectations but where they can build a career that will continue to challenge them. If you're in HR and you can't lay that vision out, recruiting IT professionals is going to be challenging."

To avoid hiring snafus, here's how IT leaders can lend HR a helping hand:

1. Meet with HR regularly. "The HR group has to have a very close alliance with the IT group so that they understand where the IT department is heading, what the opportunities are going to be down the road and even blocking time with IT leaders periodically to understand what technology they're using," said Reed.

2. Create a glossary for HR. According to Reed, IT leaders would be wise to create a glossary of frequently used high-tech terms to ensure ideal candidates don't slip through the cracks. For example, Reed said, "The words 'Web services' might not appear anywhere on a resume but an HR manager might see the term SOAP and not realize that it's part of Web services. That could result in him passing over some really qualified candidates."

3. Fully define shop culture. Matching skills to job descriptions is one thing. But an HR manager should have an in-depth understanding of an IT shop's culture. "One of the most important components is the culture of the IT team, the feel of the team, how they operate and how they interact," said Reed. "Is it a command and control environment, a formal environment, or a laid back environment with lots of creativity?"

Making sure HR managers have the answers to these questions is critical to successful hiring. "HR being able to describe an IT shop's environment can be the difference between attracting the people that you want and not attracting them," said Reed.

Android and Apple devices make backup a challenge for IT. Look to smart policy, cloud services, and MDM for answers. Also in the new, all-digital Mobile Device Backup issue of InformationWeek: Take advantage of advances that simplify the process of backing up virtual machines. (Free with registration.)

About the Author(s)

Cindy Waxer


Cindy Waxer is a Toronto-based freelance writer and content strategist who covers small business, technology, finance, and careers for publications including Technology Review, The Economist, TIME, Fortune Small Business, and

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights