Special Report: IT Salary Survey 2013

Hire slowly and hire well

While the economy as a whole remains slow-moving, 2013 is actually shaping up to be a year of growth, innovation and opportunity in the tech sector. That means that IT workers have good reason to be optimistic about their job prospects, and the 2013 Computerworld Salary Survey supports that: The percentage of respondents who said that the job market is poor or offers few opportunities decreased from 36% last year to 27% this year.

Organizations will be looking to not only fill new IT roles, but also backfill roles that have experienced turnover.

Read the full report: Computerworld IT Salary Survey 2013

But the dynamics of the job market have changed. Real-time data-sharing tools (think Twitter, Quora and LinkedIn) allow job hunters to tell all of their professional contacts that they're looking for work with a single status update. How do these new technologies affect the people responsible for hiring? In the age of rapid-fire information exchange, does the old adage "hire slowly, fire quickly" still ring true?

As someone responsible for hiring tech talent, my answer is yes. Here are some strategies to ensure that you "hire slowly" and wisely but don't miss out on good candidates:

1. Know what you want upfront. The more you can focus in on what you want in an employee in a specific role, the easier it will be to spot a match.

Start by listing the skills and qualities you need, and then create a one-to-one map to ensure your hiring process includes a step to test for each.

Example: Say that you need to hire for a position demanding a high level of integrity. Or perhaps you need to hire someone who is extremely proficient at typing. How, and at which stage in the interview process, do you test for these attributes? Once, when hiring a tech recruiter, I conducted a series of interviews and exercises with an applicant but never assessed his computer skills. This oversight came to light soon after he was hired: His first day on the job I discovered he couldn't type. Had I better mapped the position's needs to my assessment exercises, I could have avoided that mistake.

2. Form a small, mutually beneficial network. Cultivate relationships with professionals whom you respect and who have needs adjacent to your own. Use this network to refer strong candidates and get referrals sent to you.

Example: I hire Ruby developers but not architects. When I interview a solid architect, I refer that person to someone in my network who needs architects. I am helping someone find a job and helping someone in my network.

Keep these relationships thriving by, for example, telling your contacts about upcoming IT events, using social media to spread the word about their hiring needs or catching up over coffee.

3. Remember that "hire slowly" doesn't mean "be slow to make a job offer." On the contrary, it pays to act swiftly at this stage. Being prepared by knowing what you want upfront and maintaining a network of contacts increases your odds of having strong candidates. And if you have strong candidates, you can close the deal quickly. When you find a match, let that person know as soon as possible. Don't spend days or weeks deciding whether or not to make an offer -- you'll just end up learning that the candidate took another job.

When the right person passes your interview process, make an offer the same day.

Next: Opinion: It's time to catch your own wave, people!

Debbie Madden is executive vice president at software developer Cyrus Innovation. You can contact her at dmadden@cyrusinnovation.com.

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