Most businesses understand that maintaining staff is a critical factor to achieving success. If hiring is consistent, then many other problems subsequently take care of themselves. In fact, it is estimated that the financial impact of hiring a top performer is ten times their salary, meaning an expert employee making $80,000 annually translates to an extra $800,000 in revenue each year. However, locating and recruiting top performers, especially in hot sectors like IT, is the biggest challenge.
What if you already had a pipeline to top talent and didn’t realize it? Organizations will connect with a large number of candidates over time. Job seekers apply for a role, send in their resumes, and come in for interviews, but sometimes things don’t work out even with highly skilled applicants. However, all their information must go somewhere, and that somewhere is your candidate database. Businesses that are able to fully leverage these databases are the ones that enjoy smoother hiring processes.
The chief reason candidate databases are not used to their fullest potential is because they can become overwhelming. Left unattended, even the most basic database becomes a rudimentary and lengthy excel file of names and outdated phone numbers. Some entries may be a decade old, leaving a hiring manager, HR rep, or internal recruiter clueless as to if that candidate is even still in the workforce.
This results from a short-term mindset of ad-hoc hiring that focuses solely on filling the single position at hand. Suddenly, if your business needs to hire a Java developer, sifting through an outdated and unorganized large database to find previous contacts with Java skillsets becomes unproductive. It seems easier to search for brand new candidates, and this cycle leaves candidate databases in the dust.
Typically, the real issue with candidate databases isn’t that they contain too many contacts, it’s that maintaining and utilizing a database appropriately proves difficult. This is where technology comes in, helping businesses to access the right information quickly and effectively when needed.
Some smaller companies might feel they aren’t big enough to invest in a new tool, but there are seemingly endless options in today’s market, with even some that are free. Whether it’s a robust ATS, mid-range CRM, or basic HR software program, the goal is to better keep track of candidates in whatever way serves your unique organization best. Software can help gather information correctly and put it in a usable form. For example, almost 50% of job seekers apply for jobs through their mobile devices. If someone applies for one of your jobs through their tablet or phone, their information must get translated into your system correctly and in a format that makes it is easy to locate in the future.
Then, is the information on each candidate updated over time? If someone from your company reaches out to a candidate, is it easy for them to add a quick note and set a reminder to reach out to that candidate again regularly? The more robust a program is, the more it can help the recruiting process overall by automating communications, supporting video interviewing, or making scheduling interviews easier. At the very least, even the most basic option can help where it counts most: in building relationships.
Once your candidate database is organized and can be easily accessed or updated, the long-term focus can turn to improving the candidate experience through building relationships. If you interviewed three great candidates for a role a year ago, what happened to the two you didn’t offer the role? Have you reached out to them in the last 12 months?
Cultivating relationships with those in your recruiting database is the key to future hiring success. This can be as simple as sending a quarterly candidate newsletter containing your open roles and fun internal events from your company. Or perhaps it’s passing along articles that professionals in your industry would find genuinely interesting. However the correspondence takes place, staying in regular contact will make it much easier to connect with a qualified candidate when, down the line, a role suddenly opens and they’re the perfect person to fill it.
Likewise, fostering a relationship with candidates can be fruitful because of the referrals they produce. If an IT pro trusts you and is comfortable with your company but isn’t interested in a new role right now, they are likely to refer you to one of their job-seeking peers. A referral like that can be as good as a formal employee referral, which typically has an outstanding 40% applicant conversion rate. That equates to less time and resources spent on recruiting and helps to fill a role faster.
Building an organized candidate database and maintaining relationships with a growing number of professionals isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s how many businesses find long-term hiring success. At NueVista, we’re so familiar with cultivating healthy candidate databases because it’s our job. That’s why our candidates are engaged tech professionals who have real relationships with us, which allows us to quickly provide the right talent for our clients’ open roles.
As a tech professional, there’s no doubt you’ve learned a tremendous amount over the course of your career. Perhaps you’ve mastered several programming languages, are a data mining expert, or are schooled on safeguarding networks against the latest cybersecurity threats. While being versed in any of these areas can set you up for a great career, even a skill set that encompasses all of them would still be missing something vital. That’s where soft skills come in.
It’s true that any tech job candidate must have essential technical capabilities to be considered for a role, but at the same time, 77% of employers say that they value soft skills as much as hard skills. Hiring managers at these companies are shelling out top dollar for IT talent, and they expect a professional who is as well rounded and close to perfect as possible. Unfortunately, tech pros will often focus heavily on their technical skills while a forgotten student organization sits at the end of their resume as the only proof of soft skills development.
Further, the importance of soft skills is not limited to just those tech pros actively seeking a new job. Those trying to move up the ranks, or even those happy with their current position would be wise to add to their skill sets. Refining these soft skills makes tech professionals even more valuable assets to their organizations, increasing job security and ensuring they will not be outshined by fresh, multidimensional candidates. With that in mind, what exactly are the soft skills tech employers are looking for?
Research shows that 25% of the requirements in an IT job posting are soft skills, and they almost always include communication and writing. Even though many tech role responsibilities are carried out while sitting alone in front of a computer screen, there are a number of times when that isn’t the case. A tech professional could be asked to describe a problem to management or make a case to the C-suite that an investment in a certain hardware upgrade or new software program is necessary for business success. One could be called on to draft a year-end technical report in layman’s terms or asked to discuss the benefits of a new offering with the marketing department. At the very least, the ability to communicate clearly is what makes teamwork on technical projects possible.
It’s highly unlikely that, as a tech professional, you only have one project on your plate at a time, neatly set up to be completed in an eight-hour workday. Realistically, you’re juggling a great number of tasks that are in various stages of completion. Many people can sit and focus on tearing through one programming project during a day but far fewer are able to prioritize and switch between tasks often. Business leaders are striving to make today’s technical environments more agile, and that requires tech pros who can go with the flow and change pace at a moment’s notice.
The good news is that even if you feel you lack soft skills, obtaining and refining them can be fun. Chicagoland boasts one of the best metropolitan areas in the country and provides a huge number of rich opportunities for rounding out your skill set in this area.
At the end of the day, what matters most is determining the sort of tech career you want to create for yourself. Then, it’s all about taking the necessary steps to get there. For most IT pros, that means in addition to continually building up technical expertise, working on communication, teamwork, and prioritization is in order.