Are we focusing on the wrong things when we're hiring?

What Hiring Mistakes Do CIOs Make?

Are we focusing on the wrong things when we're hiring?
Are we focusing on the wrong things when we’re hiring?
Image Credit: Roadsidepictures

So what is the most important asset in the IT department? If you are like most CIOs, you’re instinctive answer to that question is “our people”. That’s a good answer; however, if we were to take a look at how the IT department goes about hiring people, I think that we’d discover a different story. Does your IT department spend its time going after candidates with low motivation and skip over other highly motivated candidates? If you want to find the best talent to fill your IT jobs, then things are going to have to change.


Does The IT Hiring Process Work?

In the world of IT, we love numbers because we understand the importance of information technology. We like to stay on top of projects that we’re working on and we like to track faults and errors. All of this makes it a little bit puzzling that we don’t do a better job when it comes to hiring people. Studies have shown that under 25% of firms bother to track whether or not their hiring process is bringing in good employees.

Now some credit has to be given to the IT hiring process. Perhaps because it is part of our nature, but we do track some parts of the process. IT departments do a good job of determining how much it costs us per hire and how long it takes to hire and onboard each hire. A lot of people in the CIO position say that it is hard to measure the quality of a hire after the deed has been done. However, we can determine if new hires that scored well on assessment tests are more or less likely to quit. We can also check to see if they are more likely to get promoted or at least how they do on their performance appraisals. This can be hard to do because less than half of companies do any testing of new hires to see if they have the skills necessary to do the jobs that they are being hired for. Hiring people based on your gut and not taking a look at their test scores often turns out badly for the IT department.


Do You Pay Attention To Internal Candidates?

You would think that the person with the CIO job would be smart enough to take a look inside the company to find potential candidates. However, all too often that does not happen. Studies have shown that only 1/3 of IT job openings are filled using internal candidates. So what’s going on here? It turns out that within most IT departments, only 28% of CIOs view internal candidates as being an important source for filling openings in the department. Things get even worse when you realize that less than 1/3 of CIOs require that managers post job openings internally before they go looking outside the company for potential candidates.

The reason that overlooking internal candidates is such a big deal, is because they are a virtual gold mine for CIOs. Studies have shown that internal candidates are both better and cheaper performers than people who are hired from the outside. CIOs also have to understand that when they fill an open position using an internal candidate, they are sending a message to the rest of the IT department. You are telling everyone else that there are opportunities for advancement within the department. This can be a key factor when it comes to employee retention.


Do The People You Are Hiring Want To Work For You?

So just exactly who are CIOs looking to hire these days? This is where things tend to get a bit strange. Currently, the type of person that IT departments are looking to recruit are what are being called “passive candidates”. These people are the ones who are not looking to move. The reason that this type of candidate is being sought out is because IT departments believe that there must be something wrong with someone who is willing to leave their current job.

There is a flaw in this type of thinking. It turns out that the #1 thing that would cause a passive candidate to leave their current position would be the opportunity to make more money. However, for people who are actively looking for their next position, the greatest motivation is better career and work opportunities. It turns out that active job seekers are more career-focused and are looking for ways to improve their job performance. They are interested in moving on because they are ambitious – not because they are struggling in their current jobs.


What All Of This Means For You

CIOs will always have openings in their IT department. That’s just a fact of life. However, it’s how they go about filling those openings that matters. IT departments do a poor job of measuring how good of a job they are doing in attracting and retaining the best talent. What needs to happen is that CIOs have to take a long, hard look at how the IT department is hiring and then make some changes to improve the process.

One of the biggest problems with the way that the IT department does hiring is that we don’t do a good job of measuring what we are doing. We don’t follow up with people that we do hire and see how our employment tests match with how they turn out for the company. We do measure a number of different things, but none of them will really help us to become better at hiring the right people. For some odd reason, CIOs are overlooking the internal candidates that we have who are interested in filling our open positions. We are looking for people who are not looking for jobs when we really should be talking with the people who actively want to join our IT department.

The good news is that the IT hiring process can be fixed. The bad news is that it is currently broken. What CIOs need to do is to take a look at how the hiring process is working from the moment a candidate contacts us to their first performance evaluation. We need to create a process that allows us to get the best qualified candidates into our IT department and allows them to stay. Look at our internal candidates first and then only going outside when there are no qualified candidates would be a good way to make sure that everyone felt that they had a chance when we had an opening. CIOs need to fix their IT department’s hiring process so that they can have the best IT workers possible!


– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™


Question For You: What would be the best way to allow internal candidates to know about each open position that you have?


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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Health care CIOs are dealing with an industry that is undergoing a great deal of change. The technology that they are responsible for is in the process of changing how health care is delivered. The importance of information technology is impacting everything from pharmaceutical research to improving the ability to detect when people have become addicted to opioids. However, the rate of change is not happening as fast as some CIOs had been hoping just a few years ago. What do health care CIOs need to be doing today to prepare for a tomorrow that will be dramatically different?

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