“WHY WON’T YOU HIRE ME?”

Michael Paradise Hire IT

The good news is that the US unemployment rate continues to fall, down to 5% for October 2015, according to the latest statistics. “The Federal Reserve considers a base unemployment rate of 5.0 to 5.2% as ‘full employment’ in the economy,” according to Mitchell Hartman of Marketplace.

And still, that position you’ve been eyeing for a while, the one you applied for months ago, is still open. Why?

The economy is humming along and people are employed, so when openings are available employers have a larger universe to select from — of both employed and unemployed candidates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, when the most recent recession began in December 2007, there were 1.8 unemployed people for every job opening. That ratio peaked at 6.8 unemployed people per job opening in July 2009 and has trended downward since. In September 2015 the ratio of unemployed people to job openings was 1.4.

US employment continued to decline after the end of the recession, reaching a low point in February 2010. Job openings have trended upwards since, surpassing the pre-recession peak of March 2007. There were 5.5 million job openings in September 2015, BLS says.

But still — what gives?

The AP explained in September: “Some economists say that a mismatch between the skills of many of the unemployed and the skills needed by expanding companies is a big reason that openings are rising more quickly than actual hiring. Openings are up 22 percent in the past year, while hiring has declined. For example, construction workers who lost jobs in the housing bust may not have transitioned to fields where jobs are plentiful, such as health care.”

Often employers are searching for the perfect candidate rather than a really good candidate who will grow into the position. These candidates are known by recruiters as “purple squirrels” — with an all-but-impossible set of qualifications including the right levels of skills and experience. And especially in tech hiring, these candidates are expected to boast the skill set that two or three workers used to possess. But as you know, purple squirrels don’t exist. At Sysazzle, we work with the 80% rule — if you find a candidate with 80% of what you want and the drive and aptitude to pick up the balance on the job, hire that person immediately.

Many analysts blame the hiring bottleneck on technology — the portals and databases companies now use to screen candidates slows down the process. While employers are looking for the “right” candidate, they are sorting through thousands of applications in order to avoid hiring the “wrong” candidate, which costs the company not only time but money.

“Right now hiring delays can represent money left on the table both for workers and employers. There has been surprisingly little research on ‘interview durations’ from the job seeker’s perspective, and how company HR policies influence delays in job matching throughout the economy,” notes Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor Chief Economist, in a press release from Glassdoor Economic Research. Glassdoor, the jobs and recruiting marketplace, issued a report this past summer entitled “Why is Hiring Taking Longer?” that looked at the global hiring process from the candidates’ perspective.

Employer size, location and sector also factor in, with big companies and government taking longer to hire. “Job candidates in the Washington D.C. area report a slow hiring process as government jobs in this region tend to be more dominant – candidates in the nation’s capital report the hiring process takes an average of 34.4 days, which is roughly twice the time it takes candidates in Miami (18.6 days) to get hired,” according to the report.

Additionally, candidate background checks, skills tests and drug tests also add time to the process. But is a longer hiring process the new normal?

Glassdoor’s Chamberlain told Business Insider that HR professionals are telling him, “‘I’m seeing the same thing at my company, we’re now doing more and more of these screens, because we have systems that are just set up to do it, and no one’s really evaluating whether it’s working or not.’ Fads in hiring go through cycles. They may dial back when they realize how much of a delay each of these things cause. I don’t think most people realize.”

Is Your Introversion Holding Back Your Career?

Michael Paradise - CEO at Sysazzle, Inc (Business & Information Technology systems)
Michael Paradise is the CEO at Sysazzle, Inc (Business & Information Technology systems).

Even the most outgoing, extroverted professionals have a tough time managing their careers. But what if you’re an introvert? Do you have an even tougher time building the skills to get ahead, interact with colleagues who can help you progress, undertake a job search? And let’s drill down further — what if you’re an introvert in tech?

It sounds like a reality show — “Introverts in Tech!” — and research shows a preponderance of introverts in the field. IDG Connect, a technology marketing firm, surveyed 465 IT professionals, conducted in-depth interviews with industry experts, and collected first-person testimonials. Just over half (53%) of those surveyed said they were introverts, 20% said they were extroverts, and 24% claimed to be ambiverts (a hybrid). The remaining 3% didn’t know. IDG’s conclusion is that these results “correlate with a lot of the core work that IT professionals have to do.”

Indeed, the tech industry is included on Tony Lee’s list of “10 Best Jobs for Introverts.” Lee is publisher of CareerCast, a job listing and advice site.

So what, exactly, is introversion? Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” discussed this in a 2012 TED Talk. Introversion isn’t the same as being shy. “Shyness is about fear of social judgment,” Cain said. “Introversion is more about how do you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation. So extroverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched on and their most capable when they are in quieter, more low-key environments.”

The bottom line, then, according to Myers-Briggs, is the different ways introverts and extroverts get their energy.

IDG sums up the challenge of introverts in IT this way: “There is no typical IT personality, but there are different ways of working and engaging with others. And today, as the role of IT develops, IT leaders are increasingly required to move outside the narrow remit of IT in order to sell the benefits of their department into the wider business. This could prove a double-edge sword, but it is worth remembering that you don’t have to be extroverted to sell, although you may need to be introverted to spend 12 hours doggedly pursuing one single detail-oriented development task.”

That’s especially true at senior levels, where positions are no longer siloed and every executive is responsible for the bottom line.

It’s important to interject the obvious: before you can do the job you have to get the job. Introverts can remember a few simple tips for self-presentation for interviewing during the hiring process, according to Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D. Writing in Psychology Today, Whitbourne boils down to this simple advice: prepare, prepare, prepare. She recommends asking about the interview process, scoping out the physical location, researching your interviewers, reminding yourself that you know your stuff, rolling with the punches during the interview, and leaving on a high note.

Introverts might take comfort by utilizing methodologies like the FIRST method, a communications tool used by top sales professionals and executives. FIRST aims to build relationships by uncovering the needs of others in each important meeting and conversation so you can work together successfully:

F: Foundation — develop rapport and build trust by getting to know the other person

I: Issues — uncover needs and discuss current and future challenges

R: Results — identify results sought and understand the consequences if unsuccessful at meeting the results

S: Solutions — discover and discuss possible solutions

T: Teaming — identify who else is involved in the solution and how to get started

“The key to this ‘other centered’ methodology is to be interested, not trying to be interesting,” says Richard Hoag, Esq., CEO of FIRST Professional Resources, Inc. “This is certainly a more comfortable approach for those not prone to extroversion, and people are universally more open to those who ask and listen, than those who try to tell them what to do.”

If introversion vs. extroversion is about energy and comfort, then outreach, collaboration, and consultation are the skills introverts must develop while remaining true to their core personalities in the workplace and throughout the hiring process.

What Kind of CIO are You?

Michael Paradise Hire IT

The role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is changing, expanding, and having a bigger impact on the bottom line. The growth in technology has morphed the CIO role into areas such as business transformation, change management, service delivery, and even the supply chain. Today’s CIOs require knowledge of both technology and business, not one or the other as in the past.

“We believe there are clear indicators that the existing role of technology management will evolve in a few years to a set of roles that includes management of innovation, information intelligence, customer experience and digital business presence,” says Fred Magee, adjunct research advisor with IDC’s Research Network. His report, “Worldwide CIO Agenda 2014 Top 10 Predictions,” describes the challenges facing CIOs and predicts that by 2018 70% of CIOs will change from directly managing IT to becoming innovation partners.

So — what kind of CIO are you? Here are a few responses from the Sysazzle network:

“The role of a CIO in any organization is one that has truly changed in the last 10 years. As more and more companies rely on the Internet, social media and cloud-based technologies, the CIO is a key member of the management team – involved in the daily operational activities and ensuring that systems are secure, available and have the capacity to ensure the company will prosper. Utilizing data to drive business decisions demands open, flexible and user intuitive solutions that can be easily accessed by the end user – putting data in the hands of the decision maker. The CIO’s role is not just to facilitate but to participate in the growth of a firm.”

David C. Lyons, CTO & Executive Vice President, Operations, Catapult Technology

“The CIO should empower their team by removing barriers, always being a bit ahead by providing them the tools they need to be successful. Being a good encoder and translating the requirements of the business, and of the changing business landscape, into actionable plans with their technical implications is a critical skill they must possess. The CIO understands and should be able to communicate and inspire their teams to understand that what they are doing has a direct linkage to revenue, cost reduction, and/or reducing risks — even the most seemingly insignificant function has to be tied to productivity and, ultimately, improving the health of the business. If it’s not, it should be dropped faster than that old Zip drive.”

Mark Skidmore, IT Director, Office of the CIO, Molina Healthcare

“I’ve found that many Chief Information Officers are hired to be technology auteurs, responsible for everything technical including managing infrastructure, application development, digital marketing and technology business strategy. The expectation that one individual can be good at so many disciplines drives turnover in the position because becoming the ‘one throat to choke’ for everything IT puts the role in conflict with itself. Even the best CIOs can be overly focused on stability, cost containment or security and find it difficult to advocate for technology innovation at the core mission level. In my experience, a successful model has been in healthcare, where IT infrastructure management strategy and the organization’s medical informatics are separate and represented by different executive leaders. In other words, it may be critical to add a range of IT voices…not just one…to an organization’s senior leadership team.”

Phil Hopkins, Solutions Delivery Director, Sysazzle

It’s clear that being a CIO who just “keeps the lights on” isn’t what the job is anymore. Today’s CIOs must be sure the necessary is getting done, but must also pave the way forward for the organization and connect technology to outcomes. Now more than ever, the CIO is responsible for the health and bottom line of the organization.

Why Does It Take So Long to Fill a Tech Opening?

Michael Paradise Hire IT

The US economy may not be booming for everyone, but it is definitely sprinting at a pretty good clip. With the June 2015 unemployment rate at 5.3%, the US has sustained 64 straight months of job growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and has created 12.8 million jobs in that time. And the tech economy is growing right alongside other sectors.

 What jobseekers are finding, though, is a different landscape than they may remember. Competition for jobs is still fierce, as always, but new technology and tools create more avenues (and more work!) for those seeking employment. Looking for work has always in itself been a full-time job, but ensuring your online presence is in sync with your real-world persona is an add-on many jobseekers don’t find welcome. Vehicles like LinkedIn are a great portal for employment-related activities, but they also create more stress to monitor and coordinate.

And the hiring process itself is taking longer, as employers have more candidates to choose from, as well as new processes and tools with which to review candidates’ backgrounds. The Wall Street Journal reported that as of April the average job sat vacant for 27.3 days before being filled, nearly double the 15.3 days it took to fill a job in mid-2009, according to Stephen Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago. Davis’s research is published regularly as the DHI Hiring Indicators report.

CIO Magazine recently wrote that “more businesses are planning to boost their IT hiring in 2015,” but are “struggling to find talent to fill vacant to newly created roles,” according to a survey conducted by HackerRank, a recruiter focused on custom coding challenges.

So…more candidates are looking for work, and more employers are looking to hire, but employers are taking longer to fill vacant positions.

We find that our clients aren’t looking for the “perfect” candidate, they’re looking for the right fit — a mixture of skills, interest, expectations, and potential to grow within the company. Being self-directed and able to work anywhere is admired and expected more and more, as the traditional office environment continues to change.

The economic collapse in 2008, coupled with the explosion of new and available technologies, sped up a host of changes that were slowly occurring in the workplace. The bottom line for those looking for work as well as those hiring is patience and adaptability are key. That’s why jobs remain vacant nearly twice as much as during the recession.

Hiring is More than “Kicking the Tires”

Michael Paradise Hire IT

 

When you go to buy a car, you usually do a little research in advance: comparison shopping on price, features vs. necessities, expectations of value over the long term, and so on. The idea is that you don’t want to blindly walk onto a lot, with its multitudes of makes and models, and randomly start picking your new (and expensive) investment. You’ve Googled models and dealers, talked to friends, and read enough information that you can make an informed choice.

If you’re an employer looking to hire for an open position, shouldn’t you take the same approach? Wouldn’t you rather have a set level of screening done in advance so you’re not hit with an avalanche of resumes that you have to screen?

It’s quality vs. quantity.

As the economy continues to strengthen and job growth climbs, more workers and potential workers are looking for positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the quit rate — workers who voluntarily leave jobs — is higher now than even a year ago, suggesting that those who were remaining in place in jobs they didn’t want or just couldn’t leave are finally moving on.

So with all that job candidate activity, how would you rather handle recruiting — do you want to kick as many tires as you can, or would you prefer to have a professional provide you filtered resumes of qualified candidates?

Or, in other words, how much time do you have on your hands?

As US News & World Report recently found: “Employers who move quickly and wrap up hiring processes in a few weeks are becoming a rarity. Employers are increasingly stretching out the interview process and overall time it takes to hire a new employee. Many employers are adding additional steps to their hiring process, including multiple interview rounds in which candidates meet with multiple decision-makers and others who have input on the process. The time between steps and the time it takes to make a decision once interviews are over can be substantial. Some job seekers report hiring processes that stretch on for four or more months before a hire is made.”

Moving slowly on a new hire makes sense; a 2013 CareerBuilder survey found that, “among those reporting having had a bad hire, 27 percent of U.S. employers reported a single bad hire cost more than $50,000.” Ouch!

So, what’s the solution? Professional recruiting firms streamline the process from the outside: learning what makes your company tick, drafting the most precise job description for your needs, and pre-screening qualified candidates. What you get at the end of that process is a core group of candidates with the right mix of skills and talent to help you avoid that $50,000 bad hire loss.

There’s no Kelley Blue Book for hiring, but your business has more moving parts than that new car you’re looking at. Do your research, and rely on the advice and guidance of a professional recruiter. You’ll save on your business’s “normal wear and tear!”