Why HR and IT should talk to each other… but they don’t?

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Jun 15, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

There are many stories about the rocky relationship between marketing and sales. Blame ping-pongs whenever any goals aren’t met and one always complains that the other is underperforming. However, they are not the only ones who seem to suffer from misunderstandings and miscommunication. HR and IT in recruiting tech talents in many companies are not getting along either. On the one hand, I often hear from IT departments that recruiters don’t do their job properly and they are wasting programmers’ precious time by inviting to on-site interviews candidates that don’t meet basic requirements. On the other hand, recruiters complain that they are working their socks off and their work is always underappreciated. Where does this misunderstanding come from? Is there a way to fix it?

How IT job market looks like?

The IT talent pool is growing slower than demand for programmers. Quality candidates get hired very quickly. If you want to recruit the best ones, that are looking for a job at the moment, you really need your recruitment process to be as quick and accurate with picking up candidates with potential as possible. Moreover, recruiters have to become more skillful and spend more time on passive recruiting and building long term relationships which are a time consuming and engaging the process.

HR perspective

The shortage of a talent pool and omnipresent war over the tech candidates makes technical recruiter job pretty challenging. A recruiter’s job doesn’t end with putting an ad on the job board, sitting back and waiting for CVs to come in. They have to be active. They spend a lot of time looking through coding portals and searching for coders that match their requirements, going through various social media, business profiles, groups and discussions trying to get in touch with them. They need to be persistence and not take “no” for an answer.

More active recruiters, who know how important building relationships is, attend meetups for programmers or try to be very active on various internet portals and show that they care. They do a lot for building employer branding.

Sourcing, however, can be ungrateful. Recruiters spend a lot of time with no success guaranteed. And in fact, nobody sees how much work they have done, effort and energy they put into it and how much time it cost them. Everybody wants results. That’s why recruiters often feel that their job is not appreciated and valued enough by co-workers.

Then comes screening which seems to be even more challenging. Based on CV and often phone or video interview you have to decide whether a candidate has necessary skills to perform a job. But not a lot of technical recruiters can program themselves or have deep knowledge in this field which makes it difficult to assess accurately whether there will be competence fit.

The company wants good programmers, but nobody thinks and gives recruiters tools and know-how that can support them with making the right decisions. In some companies, there are special tools in others they get support from SME. But still in many of them, technical recruiters are left on their own trying to meet unrealistic expectations.

That’s why so often recruiters prefer to act cautious and prefer to invite all the candidates that might have competencies for a meeting with IT staff. From their perspective, it’s the best way to ensure that they don’t miss any valuable candidate.

IT perspective

IT team usually have a lot on their plates. If your company is recruiting new programmers it means that internal coders are a deep knee in work and don’t have available resources.

If meeting tight deadlines with programming projects isn’t enough, they participate in project meetings, manage stakeholders and adjust their approach to IT project challenges.

On top of that, they have to take part in recruiting process being responsible for assessing new candidates technical skills, as nobody else has skills to do it. So far everything is pretty straightforward, right? But how would you feel if your precious time would be wasted for interviewing weak candidates who don’t meet even the basic programming requirements? Or if after a couple of minutes you already know that the candidate is not skillful enough to work on the project you are recruiting for. Still even if the interview finishes within 15 minutes, as a programmer you wasted more than 30 minutes of your time or even more cause you had to take a break from work.

Face the truth, most tech recruiters do lack programming skills (no surprise, if they have them they would be more likely to work as a coder, not a recruiter). This is understandable.

The thing that is so difficult for IT team to understand is why nobody from HR department asks them about tools used in the recruitment process, especially technical screening tools and they make a decision on their own. This is what really annoys programmers as they could be of great help in that matter. 

So where does the fault lie?

Mutual grievances of HR and IT seem to be only the tip of the iceberg. It goes way beyond that. What I mean is that if such accusation appears you have to get back to recruitment strategy, setting goals, analyzing of each step of hiring pipeline and rethinking how you can streamline your IT recruitment process and make cooperation between HR and IT departments really work.

As Dr. John Sullivan in The Top 12 Reasons Why Slow Hiring Severely Damages Recruiting And Business Results stated: “each unnecessary position vacancy day has a significant dollar impact on productivity, innovation, and revenue generation.” It is not only in the best interest of HR and IT to start getting along, but also it’s for CEOs, companies, and its management sake to be able to deliver results.

An approach to fixing it

You know that it’s much more complicated than just reorganizing the process. You have to make people talk, share their experience and opinions in order to generate a solution that will meet HR and IT needs and help the company deliver results. That’s why the best way to make a change in a process is to engage HR and IT into streamlining the process. You can start from workshops and brainstorming session which will help you identify bottlenecks and weak points of your current recruitment process. You can also use it to work out an approach that will meet everybody’s demands and discuss tools that can support the whole process.

IT recruitment is a joint effort. The sooner all employees get on board the better results it will achieve. Just imagine the effects that it will have on your team: technical recruiters being proud and appreciated that they found real game changers who are crucial for company performance acceleration and IT department who finally hired people that significantly improve the effectiveness of the work they do.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.