As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the demand for high-quality programming and information technology employees continues to escalate.
The pandemic of 2020 brought with it major leaps forward in terms of flexible work arrangements. IT workers, many bound only by a laptop, were quicker than many to renegotiate the terms of their employment.
Traditionally, businesses have held the upper hand in the interview process. That’s still true, but it’s also obvious that the terrain has shifted in recent years. Today, posting a programming or coding opportunity with your company is as much an invitation for the most qualified candidates to interview you.
Since the most highly skilled candidates can have their pick of the litter, your company may need to make a few adjustments. Budgeting for higher compensation packages is only part of the equation. It’s likely your business will need to be flexible with work hours, offer top-notch online code interviews, and rethink its real-time collaboration model.
You may likewise need to make adjustments to your technical hiring procedures. Technical workers often seem like a breed apart. While making generalizations is always dangerous, there are at least a few aspects of your hiring processes that IT workers will be sure to scrutinize. As you look to retool those processes, keep these things in mind.
1. A WYSIWYG Employer
In tech circles, “WYSIWYG” is a fairly well-known acronym, shorthand for “what you see is what you get.” Originally coined to describe development technologies that mimicked online results, the term has since become synonymous with anyone or anything that is authentic. It also denotes “no unpleasant surprises.”
While no one enjoys being on the receiving end of a bait-and-switch, IT people seem particularly allergic to anything that smacks of deception. When setting up your interview processes, make sure no one is trying to oversell the position. Taking a WYSIWYG approach will help filter out uninterested applicants, and that’s a good thing, too.
2. Clear, Unambiguous Job Descriptions
Programmers and web developers can always tell when a non-technical person has written a technical job description. More often than not, this is not a plus.
The qualified people you want to attract are likely to avoid jobs containing the phrase “other duties as assigned” like the plague. A poorly written job description sends a signal that the company doesn’t really know what it’s doing. Worse, it can feel like a set-up to endure poor management.
Qualified programmers and developers will read carefully to see whether you know what you’re talking about. If your job listing betrays a lack of expertise in the field, you run the risk of attracting attention from unqualified (even unscrupulous) candidates.
Make sure your job description contains specific responsibilities and provides as much granularity as possible. List all required skills, programming languages, software packages, and certifications. Leave no room for guesswork.
3. Fast, No-Nonsense Application Process
Just as technical types are quick to spot iffy job descriptions, they are even more prone to judge a company on how well it handles its back-office processes. Applying for an open position qualifies for this category, so a sloppy process sends all kinds of bad signals to your applicants.
Unless revamping the application process itself is part of the job description, you won’t want your procedures to get in the way. Don’t force your applicants to provide the same information more than once. Set aside time every so often to test your online application process for bugs or unclear directions.
If your system places restrictions on attachments such as type, file size, or format, these should be clearly indicated on the application form. Find and eliminate accessibility barriers. The last thing you want is to make a first impression that says your company is a challenge to work with.
4. Elimination of Unnecessary Stressors
If the position you hire for will require a coding test, for example, clearly convey what that will look like and what’s expected. Perhaps employers could once have created deliberately stressful tests to see how applicants would respond under pressure, but those days are long gone. Word will get out quickly, and your better candidates will take a pass.
Technical exams, if required, need to be conducted fairly and uniformly, with no surprises. Strive to give every one of your candidates a uniform application experience. This can present some serious challenges if you are interviewing both in-person and online, but do what you can to level the playing field.
Your goal is not to have your applicants run a gauntlet. It’s to assess their skill level and ability to work well with others. Applying for a job sets most people on edge already; don’t needlessly ratchet up the anxiety level. Pay attention to nonverbal cues and check in often with your applicants.
5. Prompt Follow-Up and Feedback
Technical proficiency in an organization can be loosely interpreted to mean that every action results in a corresponding and efficient reaction. If, for example, you’ve ever clicked the “Submit” button on a website only to have nothing happen, you know how disorienting that can be.
Technical types tend to pay close attention to stimulus-response interactions, whether online or in person. Baffling exchanges of any kind are, for the most part, cataloged and assessed. As an IT applicant moves through the application and interview process, be aware that heightened attention is being paid to your lines of communication.
If an online application seems to have vanished into the black hole of cyberspace, that obviously reflects poorly on your company. Worse, your poor communication and feedback capabilities are likely to be quickly transmitted to other members of the community you are trying to recruit. Give your applicants the chance to evaluate your application processes whether you end up hiring them or not. Take remedial action where necessary, and remember to thank them for their input.
Many of the tips listed above can apply equally to all job applicants, regardless of the type of position. Some are just common courtesy, and all of them can be adapted to other situations. The main thing to keep in mind as you add technical staff to your company is that IT folks tend to see things differently. Where most applicants might view a small glitch in your online application process as an annoyance, tech workers are likely to cast a more critical eye — and then pass you by.
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