- Mark Sewell
What could make IT talent acquisition easier? This was a question sent to 142 in-house recruiters by leading Microsoft recruitment partner Curo Talent. The answer? More intelligent profiling.
Recruiters don’t want more CVs, they want the right CVs. Here, Mark Sewell, CIO of Curo Talent, investigates whether the standard 360-recruitment model used by agencies fits the needs of today’s IT industry.
The 360-model refers to one person in a recruitment agency owning the entire cycle of talent acquisition: finding vacancies, signing-up clients, CV sourcing and screening, offering interviews, liaising with the client and assisting in the onboarding processes. It’s a well-known model that many recruitment firms use, but it is not without its challenges.
Challenges and pressures
A major challenge is time. With so much to do there is often little time to accurately profile candidates against the client’s job description. IT vacancies often require very specific technical skills. CIOs and CTOs will not be happy if you send them a candidate with strong Microsoft Intune skills when they requested Microsoft Azure DevOps.
The pressure to deliver candidates before your competitors also means that many recruitment agencies don’t have time to consider ‘cultural fit’. Some IT departments are lively hubs of activity and some are more studious. Sending a square peg to fit a round hole can result in an unhappy candidate and dissatisfied client.
The recruitment industry needs to wake up to the realisation that the 360-model can also encourage the wrong type of behaviour. New employees, often fresh out of university with high energy and equally high debts, are in competition with their colleagues to approach potential clients and fill vacancies.
This isn’t conducive to providing clients with the right CVs; the focus is on reaching targets. Accurate profiling of candidates is replaced by the temptation to throw CVs at a client in the hope that some of them stick… and move on to the next vacancy to fill. Time is of the essence when you are competing with your colleagues as well as other agencies.
The solution? Move away from the 360-model
Curo Talent’s survey of the recruitment landscape, ‘IT Talent Acquisition; a recruiter’s view’, examined the views of hiring managers in IT Departments as well as in-house recruitment executives. Unsurprisingly, competition for IT talent was noted as the greatest challenge in the industry.
In a candidate-driven market, it makes sense to devote more time to understanding a candidate’s needs, both technical and cultural, and building long-term ‘real’ relationships. A separate survey by Curo Talent showed that ‘interesting work’ came a close second to high salary/day rates when IT candidates were asked what they wanted from their next job.
You can only provide that if you take the time to understand what they mean by ‘interesting’.
In-house recruiters also don’t have the time to build deep relationships. Developing a pool of passive candidates is great in theory but may not be possible when you are being pressured to fill immediate vacancies in the finance, sales and operations departments. Agencies have a great opportunity to fill the void if they move away from 360-recruitment.
An alternative approach
A 180-model is an alternative approach and often requires sales and delivery to be split into separate teams. This leaves delivery consultants with the time to focus on accurately profiling the right candidate for the job. The result is happy candidates and satisfied clients.
This model can encourage ethical team working and collaboration among colleagues. By paying delivery consultants a fair base salary, and rewarding good performance on a team basis, staff in a recruitment agency don’t see each other as the enemy. This attracts employees who are team players, creating a different type of behaviour that you don’t often see with the 360-model.
Nurturing candidate relationships can only be done if you devote sufficient time to understanding their needs. Bombarding them with irrelevant job offers will result in them disconnecting and damages the agency’s reputation. We must always remember that IT specialists with in-demand niche skills don’t just have their pick of the jobs, but they also have the pick of recruitment agencies.
Specialists in Microsoft Azure, for example, are feeling the benefit of having some of the most in-demand skills in the industry. As the central pillar of many Microsoft projects, they won’t appreciate being dragged through an aggressive and impersonal recruitment process.
It’s clear that the 360-model is no longer the best approach in a sector where the candidate is king. Clients will choose the recruitment agency that can prove they have the best talent pool, and candidates will register with agencies that have taken the time to understand their needs and offer relevant and interesting jobs.
Mark Sewell is CIO of Curo Talent