Re-thinking IT recruitment is not rocket science. Well, not always!

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Adam Morrell
Adam Morrell CIPD, PRINCE II, is Head of Recruitment Operations at Access Talent Ltd. Adam is currently responsible for leading Programme and Project talent acquisition services. Access Talent specialises in IT recruitment across the UK, combining the search capability of a recruiter, with the selection skills of a subject matter expert- created by employers for employers, we think like you do to provide only the very best candidates.

Re-thinking IT recruitment is not rocket science

Where do your new IT hires come from? Other IT companies? How’s that working out?

If you’re finding the traditional talent pools are drying up, you are not alone.

In the UK, British Gas hired an ex-NASA data scientist to progress its Hive smart heating project, who said IT recruitment wasn’t rocket science?!

In the US, LinkedIn has reportedly hired economists, physicists and perhaps most famously a brain surgeon to fill IT roles.


Because, like you, they have found that the traditional talent pools are either drying up or they are being overfished. Take LinkedIn, they are competing for IT talent from (or gravitating to) California with Apple, Facebook, Google, Adobe, eBay and Twitter – to name just a handful. It makes sense to cast the net wider.

It’s more than that though. Simon Zhang, the aforementioned former brain surgeon, brought something new to LinkedIn. He came with skills that go beyond old school data crunching.

Of course, data is something LinkedIn gathers a lot of and recognising new sales opportunities or potential for new features from all that data requires a special mindset. The type of mindset honed removing hundreds of cancers at China’s Tianjin Medical University Cancer Hospital and Institute, it turned out.

What made Zhang a great brain surgeon, an instinct for quickly identifying meaning in data coming thick and fast from different directions, also made him ideal for the business analytics opportunities LinkedIn had. Ironically, when originally interviewed, Zhang deleted his time working in brain surgery from his CV considering it irrelevant. It was only when his interviewers quizzed him about the gap in his career timeline that he mentioned it and the rest is history.

Non-IT professionals are a great resource and can deliver an extra dimension of business knowledge to your IT department. Rethinking about how you attract and develop IT talent in this way can pay you back big time but what if you cannot access the occasional brain surgeon? How can you be sure that talent from “outside IT” will work if you lure them in?

Peer Profiling works. Have you considered accessing Subject Matter Experts, people who performed the project or IT role you’re looking to fill to profile candidates for suitability? This doesn’t just work for those non-IT business professionals either, peer profiling traditional IT talent can also limit the risk of a bad hire.

Fishing in new pools need not mean casting your net for the next Simon Zhang. The best specialist IT recruiters pool interviewed candidates and maintain ongoing contact giving you increased response times over traditional recruitment methods and a direct link with suitable talent – your own private talent pool!

Attracting culturally matched talent is also working for many IT hirers. When you work on the premise that, culturally, the right candidate at your firm might not be right for your competitor, it makes sense to try to hire talent in this way – even if it does mean operating in smaller pools. When your new hire fits right in and hits the ground running on day one, what may seem like marginal gains, can actually, hugely increase the return on your recruitment investment.

Among the quickest ways to leverage this is to partner with a specialist recruiter who will, first of all, get to know you, your business and how you operate so that they can match you with talent already on their radar or focus your campaign on attracting “best fit” talent. You (and your partner) must be clear about what your culture is … LinkedIn knew theirs and so they could identify how a brain surgeon would be the perfect match that he turned out to be!

It’s not rocket science … or brain surgery for that matter … but rethinking about how you attract and develop IT talent can return amazing dividends.

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