Time for a Fresh Perspective
The new year always brings a bit of optimism. Whether it’s to finally lose those extra pounds or develop a more robust technical or creative team, we usually come out of the January gate with arms swinging, ready to tackle challenges. When it comes to the hiring process, maybe it’s time to go about it more strategically…with a real plan that builds momentum for greater capabilities in the short and near term. If strategic planning in your hiring process isn’t on your list of resolutions for 2020, it should be.
For many companies, hiring is more about filling empty positions. Those positions may be open because of new projects and initiatives, or they may be open because someone left. Either way, hiring has traditionally been narrowly-focused on a singular skill set to fill a specific task requirement. 2020 calls for something more, a broader mission that anticipates change, opportunities for innovation, and areas for growth. For this, companies need to be more strategic in their hiring process.
The Faces of Change
If you’ve been in technology for more than a few years, you’ve no doubt noticed things have changed. Who would have guessed a decade or so ago that digital would rule the world? It’s no longer good enough to have an online presence or e-commerce capabilities, for instance. Consumers want mobile. And they want it to be an easy, awesome experience, seamlessly integrated with other systems and robust with relevant features. Oh, and by the way, those requirements change. A lot. In fact, what consumers wanted a couple of years ago is no longer what they want now. And your ability to drive efficiencies throughout the project management process is changing, too, because maybe now your organization is shifting from Waterfall methodology to Lean-Agile.
Are you prepared? Is your team capable of rapidly adapting to all of this constant change? If you’re hiring solely to fill an empty position, you’re likely falling behind. What companies need is a strategy that accounts for the changing world of work and the shifting customer demands, whether your customer is external or internal.
IT & Digital Have Joined Forces
One of the most compelling pieces of evidence of this change may be in the blurring of the line between IT and digital. IT was traditionally viewed as a little more than a technical repair shop. They were there when a logon failed or a suspicious email landed in an inbox.
On the same note, digital efforts were relegated to the marketing department. It was their job to come up with a slick email campaign and social media strategy. IT and marketing rarely mixed. Unless, of course, marketing needed IT to onboard a new software product.
With digital now so dominant, IT and digital are having to collaborate. IT is now the enabler of digital. They understand the technical requirements of any digital initiative and have the technical skills to deliver. Whether it’s integrating multiple systems to streamline data and make the enterprise more efficient, build mobile functionality, or leverage AI to analyze big data, IT’s role is to help the business drive value.
But IT knows their limits. They understand that in order to deliver, they need digital skills on their side as well. Perhaps IT must collaborate with or bring in digital talent to design an interactive mobile app or an SEO optimization initiative. Even better, there are people with both IT and digital skills who are capable of providing data analysis, advanced social skills, mobile expertise, multi-platform UX design skills and more. When IT and digital collide, amazing things can happen.
Building for the Future
CMOs and CTOs have to think differently about hiring. Hiring managers may want a specific role filled, but it’s more important to draw out a hiring roadmap that builds a team to be more flexible and adaptable to change. Only then will they be able to continually deliver value not in spite of change but because of it.
Here are 5 tips to help you be more strategic in your hiring process in 2020:
1. Get Better at Resource Management
Resource management is the key to effective hiring. You need visibility into the skills you have, the skills you may need to execute future work, current resource capacity versus current and future demand, the cost of those resources, etc. Only then can you understand if resources are being over- or under-utilized or there is a skill gap to determine if you need to hire.
This takes data. Companies can easily overspend if they’re hiring without understanding what skills they already have or if a skill may only be needed for the short term. Maybe a full-time hire isn’t required and a contractor is a better fit? Maybe you have people on your team who are capable of taking on more work or they have an underutilized skill. What would happen if your company focused more on cross-team collaboration on strategic projects rather than parsing out work to be done in a vacuum?
Resource management offers insight and structure around resources, giving you greater control over how resources are prioritized, utilized, and most importantly, aligned with the strategic goals of the company.
2. Develop a Capabilities Roadmap based on Strategic Goals
Not all work is a priority. In fact, with all the change around us, we have to be able to re-prioritize on a dime. Instead of hiring because a manager asks, it’s important to know whether that request furthers the goals of the business.
First, you must understand the corporate strategy and goals, both in the short term and the long term. Then, develop a capabilities roadmap to ensure you will have the IT and digital skills on board when the time comes. This may mean you wait to hire a full-time person with a needed skill set just prior to a new project or program launching two quarters from now. Maybe it means you will need to find a person that has both IT and digital skills that can be utilized to tackle multiple projects in the near future. Whatever the case, a roadmap that is aligned with strategic goals will ensure you always have the right people at the right time to deliver value to the business.
3. Value Breadth of Skills over Depth of Skills
Don’t get us wrong, a person with deep knowledge of a particular subject or task can be highly valuable. But too often, companies hire a person with a singular skill rather than finding someone who is multifaceted, able to provide a broader range of skills that can be leveraged across teams or projects. These people may be harder to find, but they are worth the effort because they can contribute immediately on more projects. It can also end up saving you money because you’re paying one person to do multiple tasks versus hiring a different person for each requirement.
As more companies shift from traditional work methodologies to more Lean-Agile ones to adapt to change, this cross-over ability will become more prized. Work with an experienced IT and digital staffing company to find the people who are able to bring greater value to your organization with their broader skill set. The recruiter will have a larger pool of candidates from which to choose and who has what types of skills that fit into your specific capabilities roadmap.
4. Build a Tech & Digital Talent Pipeline
If your capabilities roadmap is based on corporate goals, you need to build a tech and digital talent pipeline now. Workable discovered that IT/Design roles can take close to two months to fill. You don’t want to leave your customers waiting while you find the right people to execute the work. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to hire now. You’re only building a pipeline of prospects you can tap into when the time comes.
Of course, this takes time and patience. You must constantly nurture relationships and keep tabs on where the talent is. Many companies are hardly managing their existing resources, much less ones that have yet to be hired. This is where partnering with an IT and digital staffing agency with consulting expertise really works in your favor.
On the staffing side, the agency will be able to constantly monitor your roadmap progress and know when it’s time to start talking with candidates. Because they have ongoing relationships with job seekers and people they know may be ready to move jobs but aren’t actively seeking one, they have a much larger pool to find you exactly what you need. They also will know what motivates people to leave their current job or accept one offer over another. They can help you work up an offer the candidate can’t refuse, too.
Then there is the IT consulting side of the agency, something many staffing agencies don’t have but is highly valuable. They can work with your company to determine what strategic goals will drive the most value, how to prioritize them, and what IT and digital skills it will need to execute them. Then, they can work with you to develop your capabilities roadmap. Because they are also a staffing agency, they can roll all of this information up into their candidate search, helping you find the right talent at just the right time.
2020 is going to be a good year, particularly if IT becomes more strategic in how it hires talent. IT must partner with the business to understand corporate goals and develop a hiring strategy to execute. IT should be an integral part of the enterprise. In fact, it is the engine that moves the train forward. This is the time to modernize IT, giving it the opportunity to be a part of growth and innovation.