Developers: They Are Plentiful If You Are Flexible

Employers today are always screaming for talented software developers. With unemployment still hovering around 3.9%, what’s a company to do? Companies are involved in fierce competition for candidates with a skill set that other companies are seeking as well. How do you win this war for talent? It has become a bidding frenzy?and usually the highest bidder walks away with the prize, a new developer. Can your company compete and win every time you have a vacancy? My guess is probably not. But below are some interesting statistics and creative solutions to some of your IT staffing problems. According to an article in Forbes (10/16/00), Cisco receives approximately 20,000 applications a month but only hires 5% of the applicants. Microsoft hires 2% and Inktomi hires only 1%. These companies claim that although most of these candidates have programming experience, not all have experience with newer programming languages like Java. Other companies have become so obsessed with specific software/language skills that they pass right over great talent. This is usually because a candidate has only academic training or sometimes no experience at all with a specific software or language. As recruiters, we need to understand what the base skills are that a candidate needs to posses and be able to easily build on in order to quickly pick up a new languages. Most programmers who are experienced in the C language, which has been around for over 15 years, can become productive with Java in a matter of a couple of weeks. No in-depth training is needed, all they need is a few books on Java and they should be able to easily pick up on this language. This all sounds good, but selling this idea to your hiring manager is another story. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*> Most hiring managers want people who can walk in and sit down at their desk and start producing immediately. Here are some facts that may help you change his or her mind. According to the article in Forbes, it takes 3.7 months to fill a job in the Silicon Valley. Does it make sense to leave a position vacant for over three months? In that three-month period you could have hired a highly skilled C programmer and within in a few of weeks, not months, had them up to speed and contributing to the task at hand that involves a new language like Java. Another byproduct of skill-specific recruiting is out of control job-hopping. When a specific skill is so desperately needed by so many companies, the value of that skilled individual skyrockets. Your recruiting problem then becomes a retention problem. If you take the approach of training strong programmers on new languages, the chances are that they will remain loyal to your company because you took a chance on them. They may not stay forever, but most likely they will stay longer than the average employee. Most programmers/developers come in with a specific skill set, and once they complete a project, they then want even more of a challenge and start looking elsewhere. If your company wants to keep up with technology, you must make sure that you offer training on new technology to assure that these programmers remain happy and interested in their work. As you can see, there are creative ways of hiring highly skilled programmers/developers if you take a new approach to recruiting. I understand that this is not something that will happen overnight, and more importantly, it must have buy-in from your managers. If you present this type of information to your managers, they may be more inclined to look at the facts, and decide that it is better to look outside of the box to help them solve their recruiting dilemma.

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Scott Hagen (shagen@recruiters-aid.com) is a graduate of San Diego State University, with over 8 years of high tech corporate recruiting experience with industry leaders such as Qualcomm, Cymer, and Pyxis. Scott is also a co-designer of the Recruiters-Aid PERS (Proprietary E-Recruitment System). Recruiters-Aid provides Internet candidate sourcing and screening services, and guarantees results-or the clients do not pay. Recruiters-Aid manages one of the largest free recruiting resource sites (http://www.recruiters-aid.com/kit.html) online. Recruiters-Aid services were created specifically for recruiters who don't have time to source the Internet themselves.

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