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Lowering My Hire Standards

Lowering My Hire Standards

ICT staff are in short supply - and with good reason . . .

I suffered an employment crisis recently with the loss of two of my most efficient employees. While my business isn't quite the same scale as Microsoft, which has also lost a string of senior people recently, it was still a devastating blow when my two daughters told me they weren't going to do any more of my IT work as they wanted to spend more time with their friends. I thought the IR laws were there to stop employees making their own employment decisions.

It was a double blow because not only do my daughters know the computer systems better than I, they were also working for free - a feature I'm unlikely to find in a new candidate.

Assuming I can find a candidate at all. Numerous recent surveys have reported that ICT staff are in short supply; hiring at IT companies is on the rise, but universities are finding it hard to convince students to do ICT. A National ICT Skills summit held last month announced that a DCITA ITOL program will fund an NISMEP system based on one developed by ITCRA - a statement which explains why the number of students is declining. Not surprisingly, IT salaries are on the rise, which is bad news for employers who are looking for a flood of fabulous people working for a pittance.

Writing job ads is so tedious. Creating a position description (PD) requires me to know what I want my new employee to do. I was tempted use the line "We Do Anything, Anytime", but was worried about a trademark infringement from The Goodies, and it could lead to misinterpretation by applicants from a quite different customer-responsive area.

When finished, I was pretty proud of my PD and felt it was worth the day I spent on it. I started with the company vision and mission, which took most of the time to create, then a list of mandatory skills that would be nice to have. I left out Good Sense of Humour as it sounded like a Seeking Relationship ad. I finished with a four-line position description, with most emphasis on the last line of "other duties as directed". It was tempting to skip the other three lines as Other Duties includes everything, but that didn't seem to be the trend in other job ads.

Better Shop Around

I firstly shopped my requirements around my CIO network, hoping to find someone highly recommended. Many colleagues happily suggested a candidate or two from their company who they said would be ideal. After meeting a few, I realized they meant it would be ideal for them to be finally rid of these people. I am becoming sceptical about glowing work references.

Rather than appoint a recruitment company, which would require me to brief and re-brief them, I used an Internet job search site for the first time.

I knew there were a lot of people using the Internet, but hadn't factored in how many automatically get job ads flung directly into their mailboxes all over the world. Within a day of my ad, I had received 132 resumes. Over the next week another 93 arrived, leaving me with the problem of how to evaluate 225 resumes while also doing my job and that of my recently departed employees. As the resumes came from not only Australia, but also New Zealand, Singapore, India, Indonesia, China and England, like many IT departments, I considered offshoring - mainly because I enjoy considering nouns like offshore that evolved into verbs.

I recalled my old method of evaluating tenders using the four-stage cull. Stage 1 is the size cull. Eliminate really thin and really thick ones, which involved deleting e-mails without an attachment as it means the applicant has no resume; and anything over 1MB as it means the resume is stacked with pictures. 148 resumes made it into Stage 2 - The Covering Letter. This eliminates anyone who hadn't bothered to add any text to the e-mail and those who obviously couldn't type English. This removed another 53 applications (including the one from England), leading to Stage 3 - Check the Mandatories.

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