At last! HR pros who understand IT

As the market for tech talent heats up, some companies gain competitive advantage with HR staffers who specialize in IT recruitment.

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If you've ever had to hire someone in IT, this drill might sound familiar:

Step 1: Explain to an overworked, underfocused human resources generalist what you need in a new hire.

Step 2: Struggle to make clear the subtle differences among IT roles.

Step 3: Toss out half of the resumes selected by the HR rep after Steps 1 and 2 prove ineffective.

Step 4: Endure squirm-inducing interviews with the remaining candidates, who are still mismatched in one way or another.

Step 5: Repeat.

Jean Scire feels your pain -- that cycle of frustration was part of her life in previous IT positions. But no more. That's because Scire currently works for Philips North America, and Philips has an expert in hiring IT workers on its human resources staff, and that makes a world of difference, she says.

"Hiring is hard; there's a lot of time invested in it," says Scire, senior director of healthcare IT operations and programs at the Philips facility in Andover, Mass. "I want to make that whole process as lean as possible, because there's nothing worse than sitting in an interview two minutes in and knowing that I'm not going to hire [the interviewee]."

Julie Magliozzi, IT talent acquisition specialist for Philips, says her job is to understand what managers like Scire need and then find them the right candidates. "Even if we don't have a single open position, I'm always networking with top IT talent, kind of grooming them for when we do have openings," Magliozzi says. "I understand the needs of the people in my network, and I understand the needs of IT because I support only IT, so I can make the best match for both."

That's a valuable contribution when you consider how difficult finding the right candidate can be.

In February, IT staffing firm TEKsystems reported that it had conducted a survey in which 78% of the IT managers polled said that they agreed or strongly agreed that many IT resumes contain buzzwords that are irrelevant to the individual's experience. Moreover, 77% of IT leaders responding said that they agreed or strongly agreed that many IT resumes include exaggerations, and 40% said that they believe IT professionals commonly get positions for which they are unqualified.

The impact of such mismatches can be significant. In a CareerBuilder survey released last December, 69% of the employers polled reported that their companies were adversely affected by a bad hire in 2012, with 41% of those businesses estimating the cost of that bad hire to be more than $25,000 and 24% saying the bad hire cost them more than $50,000. Those cost estimates -- which cover bad hires of all types of workers, not just IT employees -- include recruiting and training costs, plus lost productivity.

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