war-for-talentI frequently hear comments from managers that there is a shortage of technical talent and that this is going to be a problem for America’s future. Most Americans recognize that the long term solution is to put a much greater emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum early in our public schools and to inspire the upcoming generations of technology savvy workers. Even if there is actually a shortage in tech talent today, the inability to find and hire tech talent is more of a recruiting methods problem that can be improved with a few changes to the recruiting approach.

I’ve been recruiting tech talent since 1987 and have seen the rise of recruiting systems and processes that do not deliver the best and brightest to the managers that seek them. Companies that have difficulty in finding and hiring talent today are much too dependent on systems or resources (recruiters) that use systems that don’t recruit but only screen from an underwhelming talent tool.

The primary reason for the failure of these systems to deliver the best talent is that they are focused on just the best of the job seekers and not the best talent in the marketplace AND they screen based on keyword skills without much focus on accomplishments. These two fundamental processes result in what appears to be a shortage of tech talent.

My belief is that the majority of the best talent for any specific for job IS NOT LOOKING FOR A NEW JOB because he or she is happy, productive and busy doing their job. Test this statement by reflecting upon your own situation. Are you looking for a different job now? The only way to hire the best and brightest is to explore the full talent pool. It takes work to identify, approach, attract and win the talent to your staff. Focusing on the pool of job seekers can result in good hires for many positions but the best candidates of this pool may still be overlooked due to time constraints and short sighted screening.

America’s industry cannot afford to overlook great hires. Here are some things a hiring manager can do to improve their ability to hire better tech talent and overcome the tech talent shortage.

– HIRING MANAGERS GET ACTIVE: Hiring Managers need to be active in the recruiting process because hiring great team members is important to their own success. Create accurate job descriptions and provide feedback early and often to your recruiting partners. If you are working with an internal or external recruiter make sure they understand your needs and can recognize talent when they see it.

– FOCUS ON ACCOMPLISHMENT NOT SKILLS ALONE: Write the job description and hire based on the candidates ability and interest to do the job and not skills alone! Having skills doesn’t mean the ability and interest to do the work even if the candidates says they will. Remember the candidate may be trying to sell themselves and win a job offer even if the job isn’t the best fit for them. A candidate with a list of accomplishments that can be translated into the kind of work you need to have done may be a better fit than someone who just has the skills but without the accomplishments. Skills are easier to search for in resume databases than accomplishments but there may be some great candidates whose resume isn’t updated or doesn’t list the specific skill that you seek. Don’t rely on the skills search but read resumes for accomplishments to get more focused and task oriented talent.

– Pursue several (2-3+) candidates simultaneously to cover the possibility that your #1 choice doesn’t start. You are much better off having multiple candidates interested in your position than having to start the process over again. When you don’t actively pursue candidates in a timely manner they will lose interest.


Author: Rick Zabor

Engineer / Scientist / Researcher turned Recruiter in 1987. Interested in the best way to do things and mixing with people who have passions for life. Writes on topics important to building winning teams and personal growth and accomplishment. Connect with me on Linkedin. Lives in Atlanta, GA.