Filling technology roles has grown more challenging as the gap has increased between the number of open positions and the number of qualified candidates. The problem is even more severe with C-suite positions because of the additional experience employers require.
Agile, one of the nation’s leading IT recruiting firms, recommends that businesses follow three basic guidelines when conducting an IT executive search. Whether your company is looking for a chief information officer, vice president of IT, or vice president of architecture, following these guidelines can improve your company’s interview process and create more meaningful interactions with candidates.
Sought-after technical leaders want to work for companies that take a special interest in their recruitment and that are enthusiastic about hiring them. This outlook is easy to lose during the prodding, testing, and negotiation that take place in candidate interviews.
Kim Angle, a lead IT recruiter with Agile, recommends that employers meet a candidate for lunch or coffee before beginning the process of formal interviewing. “This can help establish an individual connection and give you time to get to know the applicant,” she says, and it is a great first step towards creating a relationship-driven process.
In most cases, Angle says, IT executive search candidates want to know as much as possible about the company. Whether this means introducing candidates to potential team members or touring the offices and facilities, try to give applicants the chance to ask questions and emphasize the benefits of working at your organization.
As an IT staffing firm with experience on both the employer and candidate recruitment sides, Agile strongly promotes this two-way interview process because:
Candidates typically do not like surprises during job applications and interviews. They may sour on the prospect of a position if they are required to take part in one evaluation after another without any forewarning.
When conducting an IT executive search, you should outline the process from the start, especially if your company’s practice is to have multiple steps or request anything beyond a traditional interview. Angle says, “If you require a psychological assessment, business plan presentation, or other steps toward the end of your hiring process, and if you don’t communicate these steps to candidates early on, it can derail the process.”
Skills testing is not common in an IT executive search because professionals at this level are fairly removed from day-to-day development work. Requiring a skills test, especially if your company has not mentioned it at the outset, can be a turn-off to C-level applicants. Instead of verifying a certain skill set, you might instead investigate a candidate’s depth of knowledge about your industry and in its general area of technology.
Some organizations conduct comprehensive candidate evaluations using methodologies such as CIDS (chronological in-depth structured interview). If this is part of your company’s process, candidates will need time to prepare for the day-long commitment and to gear up for the interview. Going through a CIDS evaluation, which is designed to cover 50 competencies in six categories, can be an exhausting experience for even the most polished and knowledgeable executive.
Whether you are managing a position internally or with the help of an IT staffing company like Agile, decide on the structure and levels of compensation you plan to offer before beginning the search. Employers should be prepared to outline salary packages clearly, especially when recruiting C-level talent.
“Most IT executive search candidates expect some sort of equity stake in the company as part of the job offer,” says Angle. “Top applicants will have several opportunities that they are comparing, so try to make the best offer you can.” Candidates who are already in a C-level position elsewhere likely have received equity for their current role and will want to find a similar benefit with your company.
Employers can provide the equity piece via one or a combination of the following:
Angle recommends that employers clearly outline the equity stake they are offering as part of the IT executive search, along with how and when the candidate will receive this benefit. Some businesses require an employee to be with the company for a certain amount of time before they can realize the equity stake. A time contingency paired with an equity benefit can protect your company from paying out an employee who leaves after a brief stint.
You may also want to consider how the base salary and equity piece will work together. High-quality candidates are usually confident in their skills and leadership abilities, and they know what they are worth in the open job market. Agile’s IT recruiters suggest creating an incentive-based package to attract candidates that salary compensation alone might not. The strategy is particularly useful for small companies, which can offer a smaller base salary with an exciting bonus attached to job performance. Combined with the other recommendations above, this approach can give employers the best chance possible to find and hire the right C-level talent.