Developing Your Talent Acquisition Capability

In a year of significant change across many industries, HR professionals have had to significantly change the way in which they hire, interview and onboard new talent.

Whether hiring to meet new demands, or rehiring for members of staff leaving, having a healthy talent pipeline is crucial for any business. But for some teams, an in-house resourcing solution isn’t always the best approach to talent management.

IT teams in particular have unique requirements that are difficult to meet with an in house recruiter. A strong IT recruiter needs to have a great awareness of a number of different proficiencies, as well as good awareness of where the most talented applicants can be found.

The importance of having a strong talent acquisition capability is self-evident, but now more than ever in the age of remote working.

Assessing Your Current Hiring Capability

The first stage of developing your talent acquisition capability, is assessing your current internal capacity and recruitment skills. There are a number of reasons to seek specialist recruitment services, but above all, is the fact that you may not have the resources internally to go through the recruitment process effectively to find the right person for the role. 

Internal hiring functions typically sit within HR teams, because of their existing focus on staff wellbeing and retention. HR teams have a wealth of duties to manage, from learning and development to health and safety in the workplace. So while the resourcing plan does typically fall under the duties of HR teams, the specialist knowledge required for IT and Tech roles can make doing the job well even more difficult.

A specialist recruiter understands the key capabilities required to find new talent. They will be able to identify the type of candidate you’re looking for by asking the right questions based on their knowledge of the market, candidates and IT specific roles. This specialist knowledge and experience allows the recruiter to create a persona of the ideal candidate. They can then target key channels and sources they know work for connecting with these types of candidates.

This is especially important when it comes to IT, owing to the variety of roles and skill sets an IT team can encompass. A recruiter will also be able to review existing candidates they have on file from previous job searches, and find the best fit for your hiring requirement, as well as your organisation’s ethos.

By contrast, it is unlikely that an internal HR team will be this targeted or have the specialist knowledge of IT roles to generate technical job specs and focus in more niche talent sources.

Hiring for In-demand Roles

In the last 6 months, the working priorities for many organisations has shifted radically, but the demand for specialist IT talent remains – we are still in a digital economy. This means there are still demand-side pressures on the IT and tech talent pool. This makes finding the person right for your company more difficult. 

Back in 2019 we looked at salary changes across IT, and found a 19.3% increase across all roles. Cyber Security Engineer was the most in demand role, with a 33% average salary increase. Given that Cybersafe reported a potential shortage of 1.8 million IT security workers by 2020, it’s clear that the demand for these roles is much higher than the availability.

With working from home becoming almost unanimous across many sectors, the demand for IT Support teams, Networking and Server Admins is significantly higher than normal. But as well as maintaining day to day operations, many companies are looking to identify new opportunities in our changed world. 

We are also seeing the increase in data related roles as the commercial value of big data is driving more organisations to require data skill sets. Demand for data scientists and data engineers tripled over the past five years, rising 231%. 

The pressing need to fill digital skills gaps lends itself to utilising the services of sector expert  recruiters. You are buying in out-of-the-box skills and knowledge that are used to engaging with this niche area and the candidates in it. This can save time and money and ultimately add value by bringing in talent sooner that bridges commercially important skills gaps.

Defining Your Hiring Needs

Almost every organisation has a skills gap. A report surveying HR leaders found that 64% believed there was a skills gap in their company, up from 52% the previous year. The most important part of any hiring strategy is to create a resourcing plan, by determining the most critical skills gaps within your organisation. 

Costing the UK economy an estimated £63 billion a year – digital skills gaps are some of the most pressing within many organisations across the country. While precious, IT & Tech candidates are out there – they just need a specialists’ approach to source. By reviewing your company’s skills gaps and identifying key opportunities for development and improvement, you’ll be better positioned to adapt to new demands, and grow into new areas. 

Another important consideration is your employer brand – creating a unique brand in regards to recruitment will differentiate you from other job roles available, helping you to recruit the best talent. Establishing a brand isn’t just about highlighting the benefits offered to your candidates – it’s about establishing your company’s values, culture, and personality to ensure they align with your ideal candidates’ aspirations. Specialist recruiters will factor in your employer brand, while having a head-start on finding the best talent. 

What to Look for in a Recruiter

Not only do specialist recruiters have a headstart when it comes to finding the best talent, they also have a keener understanding of the candidates expectations. For 34% of candidates, a company’s benefits are the most important consideration before expecting a role. This is no surprise to specialist recruiters, who are constantly managing their candidate pool to better understand their needs.

The first thing you’ll want to assess is how long the recruiter has been working in your field of interest. A good specialist recruiter will often have a base of candidates they’ve worked with at different stages of their career – people who they know well and will have a good understanding of their expectations and requirements for a new role. These will typically be candidates who aren’t actively job hunting, meaning you’ll be getting access to talent that can’t be found on job boards. 

Another attribute to look out for is how specialised they are. A general recruiter will not understand what a Network Operations Engineer does, let alone what skills they’ll need to be right for the role. This applies for different disciplines across IT, digital and development – without an in-depth understanding of what technologies they’ll be working with and proficient in, their recommended candidates are always going to be weaker. Specialist IT recruiters typically focus on sectors like IT Support and Networking so it’s important to find someone who understands what you’re hiring for. 

Crucial to any good recruiter is good communication – you want a specialist who keeps you, and your prospective candidates up to date at every stage of the process. This might seem like an obvious skill for anyone recruiting, but can prove surprisingly difficult for HR teams with other tasks to attend to. Good, punctual communication is a major key to attracting in demand talent. Not only does it help with strong candidates, but by managing candidate expectations appropriately, applicants who could be considered for another role with you in the future won’t be put off before reapplying – a key to promoting your employer brand.

Finally, in an increasingly online world, look at how a recruiter has adapted to the “new normal”. Are they delivering great service remotely? As almost every industry has adapted the way it works, it’s important that specialist recruiters adapt the way they find the best talent for their clients, and the best opportunities for their candidates. 

While video call interviews to screen candidates aren’t new technology, it’s important to find a recruiter who will be able to use the right tools to communicate with the hiring team. Whether its a Teams meeting to discuss the best fit, or using tools to allow the employer to rate a shortlist of candidates – it’s important to have confidence that your specialist will be equipped to manage the new normal. 

With the recruitment process itself, a specialist will be able to use their experience to assess candidates based on your criteria – from technical proficiency down to how they fit with your company’s ethos – taking the time consuming work out of your hands.