Job Seekers: Reverse Recruiting – You are your own recruiter!

Michael Paradise Hire IT

The unemployment rate has fallen back to pre-crash levels, the economy continues to grow, and nearly every forward-looking “best jobs” list includes technology careers as a growth area. All good news for job-seekers, right?

Yes…but. It’s no surprise that the old ways of looking for employment — searching want ads or expecting you’ll be rolled over into a new position if changes occur at your company — are long gone. Candidates today need to master “reverse recruiting.”

Basically, reverse recruiting means taking on the task of being your own recruiter. It’s the concept that a recruiter probably isn’t going to find you so you need to find them, stay in front of them, and seek out the positions they’re trying to fill. You need to become your own sales team and engage in a campaign for the job you’ve found that the recruiter or HR director is trying to fill. The process goes from using the internet, LinkedIn and job boards to find opportunities to phone campaigning, snail mail and in-person “drop-bys” to prospective employer offices (yes, unannounced — can you believe it?) It also means managing your online presence — your website, blog, social media networks, professional affiliations all must support and feed into your overall strategy.

Another way to look at reverse recruiting is that in a traditional job search, the strategy is to just search and find a job. In reverse recruiting, the strategies are to create and foster an identity, engage with those in decision making positions, and make yourself be found. But if you are spending 80% of your time online and in databases you are WASTING your time. A better strategy is to spend 20% of your time online and in databases and 80% connecting with human beings — and not just recruiters, but the people who will actually want to hire you:  managers, executives, supervisors, and the like. Yes, it’s “old school” but it works.

A big difference between reverse recruiting and “old-fashioned” networking is that networking has a more social aspect to it — meeting for drinks or lunch, or heading to organized networking events with others in the same position. Reverse recruiting, on the other hand, is focused on building rapport around the goal of providing VALUE to a prospective employer. It’s about strategically identifying the resources that will connect you with the job and those who are involved in the hiring process, highlighting your strongest assets, and continually getting in front of them to sell yourself. In sales it takes 7 to 20 “touches” before a person will respond, and job hunting works exactly the same way. Because it’s not scattershot like networking, reverse recruiting is more time- and labor-intensive, yet should yield a better result. I have a had job seekers cut their job search by half by following this plan.

Your job search should be keeping pace with the latest approaches, particularly if you’re looking for a tech position. It’s too easy to get left behind if you don’t.

HOW MUCH WILL THE TECH SECTOR GROW IN 2016?

Michael Paradise Hire IT

The US economy keeps humming along, now at 70 straight months of private sector job growth and economic expansion. The unemployment rate has been cut in half since its high point after the Great Recession, but employers often struggle to find the right workers, especially in the tech sector.

That was confirmed in Deloitte’s recently-released its annual survey of 500+ executives, America’s Economic Engine: Tapping the Brakes. According to Steve Keathley, a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP and national technology leader for Deloitte Growth Enterprise Services, “These companies are facing a dearth of talent in this respect. They need to be sourcing talent well in advance of the need because they’re vying for the same people as everybody else and it’s not going to get better any time soon.”

Deloitte also found that training is expected to take up a larger portion of budgets, and that tech salaries are anticipated to be higher in 2016.

Tech and health care are expected to lead the entire stock market into higher territory in 2016, according to Alan Gayle, senior investment strategist at RidgeWorth Investments. “Tech will gain traction as the economy continues to grow,” he told The Street.

So what are the hot jobs for 2016? InfoWorld reports these are the most in-demand positions in the tech sector this year:

• UI/UX designers/developers
• Full-stack Web & product developers
• Network engineers
• Security/cybersecurity professionals
• Mobile engineers
• Business analysts
• IT project managers
• Cloud architects/integration
• Data scientists
• Content management systems (CMS)

“Our technology needs are constantly growing and we’re finding it challenging to keep up the pace,” said David Lyons, Executive Vice President, Technology Solutions Division at Catapult Technology. “Sourcing qualified candidates from the start is key, and that’s how we’re staying ahead of the game.”

“The environment is always competitive but coupled with a growing economy the challenge is in identifying candidates who can grow into a changing role,” said Michael Paradise, CEO of Sysazzle, which recruits tech staff for public and private sector clients. “We want to lower the cost of hiring for our clients by matching skills, culture and outlook. That’s what makes a productive employee and a successful employer.”

 

“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.

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.