I haven’t always specialised in IT Recruitment. Five years ago I worked in a Generalist Recruitment Agency and recruited any position that landed on my desk; from your ‘bog standard’ Administrator, to Marketing positions and HR Directors. The most interesting role that I worked on was a Tribologist for a Petro Chemical Company – and yes, we placed it! The only sector that I haven’t ever recruited in is Finance – I just don’t feel that I have right personality to deal with CAs and the like. I have specialised in IT Recruitment for four years now and I must say the IT Professionals are in a league of their own! I have never met such a quirky, interesting and intelligent group of people in my life – and I love it.

Taking this into account, I strongly feel that we need to consider the uniqueness of IT Professionals when we are writing Job Descriptions – we also need to adjust the way we interview these characters. As mentioned before, IT people usually display signs of above average intelligence (yes, there are always exceptions to every rule!). We find that a lot of them change jobs quite frequently as they are constantly looking for new challenges. These new challenges need to be highlighted in your Job Descriptions.

How to get a Developers attention in a Job Description:

• IT Techie people, like your Developers, are not wordy people. (They prefer their virtual friends to their colleagues so are not always big into spoken communication.) Keep your Job Descriptions concise and always include any new languages or software that these guys may be exposed to, even if it is in its Beta version
• Mention any exciting companies that you are working with/consulting to. IT People like to work with well-known companies as it looks good on their CVs
• Highlight who your Technology partners are, especially if they are rare and you are their only partner in South Africa
• Do not give too much information away in your description – you are just looking to ‘hook’ suitable candidates at this point
• Some of the best, most creative Job Descriptions that I have seem have been written entirely in code so only experienced Developers can read them and apply!

Once you have enticed your candidates to work for the best IT Company in town and you have their CVs, you now need to check which candidates are suitable. I always encourage our Technical IT Candidates to attach a Skills Matrix to their CVs. Here they will indicate which programmes and/or languages they have worked with in the past and they will also give themselves a rating out of 5. This makes it very easy for your HR Consultant to sift through their documentation as they can see very quickly if they fit the description from an experience perspective, or not.

The way that we interview IT Professionals is also very different as it is wise to include a test of sorts. Developers can do a simple C# test for example – they are several website that offer this service, for a fee, or you could get one of your Senior Developers to devise a quick in house test. IT Business Analysts and IT Project Manager can also be given a written test to do as they could look at a case study and answer questions about how they would approach the ‘problem’ or how they would structure their documentation, or project plan accordingly.

Key Questions to ask in an IT Interview:

• What was the best project you have ever worked on and why? What role did you perform on this project?
• How do you keep up to date with technical developments?
• What languages have you programmed in? Which was your favourite and why?
• What Technical websites, or Thought Leaders, do you follow?
• Describe a time that the original design was no longer the best design to use and it had to be adjusted
• What is the most innovative thing you have done in the ‘IT Space’ and what impact has it had?
• How do you troubleshoot IT issues?
• What is the biggest IT Challenge that you have faced and how did you solve it?
• Give an example of where you had to apply your technical knowledge in a practical IT way

As you can see, IT Professionals need to be attracted and interviewed differently to other candidates. One last thing that I have also discovered about this particular breed of people is that they do not normally share the same opinion on what ‘Business Casual Dress’ means. I have interviewed Developers in their pajamas before and I am considering handing out a free brush to all candidates who get interviews with our clients!

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