10 tips for... successful IT recruitment

Hiring a new employee is one of the most expensive, stressful and time consuming things a business can do. However, the dearth of talent in the Middle East, combined with a focus on experience over qualifications, can result in an even bigger headache for any CIO. ACN brings you its top 10 tips for successful IT recruitment.

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10 tips for... successful IT recruitment Mohammed Aslam, New Horizons.
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By  Piers Ford Published  August 26, 2010

10.  Don’t ignore the soft skills

Certification is a good guide to a candidate’s technical skills, but it’s equally important to look at their communication and problem-solving qualities. They will be joining a team that already has specific focuses and priorities, and they will need to fit in as well as, ideally, bringing new ideas and vision to the IT department. Good multilingual communications skills are increasingly important. A commanding personality might be essential in a particular role.

“A candidate’s ability to adapt to new technologies – and even more, an ability to self-learn – should play a big part in selection,” says Mohammed Aslam, regional general manager at New Horizons.

“Candidates who are self-motivated will be excited to grab the opportunity to learn and excel, without forgetting their passion for IT. Time management is also important – the key to success in many IT projects. CIOs should look for proof of this, as well good judgement, integrity, decisiveness and initiative.”

9. Trust qualifications when hiring contractors

CIOs in large enterprises are often recruiting on a project-by-project basis, which puts them at the mercy of the contractor market. New Horizons’ Mohammed Aslam warns that this can be expensive, but in many cases the position is for a fixed term and the CIO needs to trust qualifications.

“This area of the world is heavily contract-based as there is a lot of work that needs to be completed quickly, so many contractors are brought in from the West to set up large networks and infrastructure,” says Charlie Sell, technology manager at specialist recruiter Arrows Group.

“This means they need strong knowledge of the processes, and qualifications prove that. Hiring people with these qualifications allows companies to ‘hire blind’ – without meeting the candidates – as the qualification shows that they’ll be competent.”

8. Focus on the right technical certifications

Flagship qualifications that certify a candidate’s skills in important, vendor-specific technology are a great signifier of skills – provided they have been attained at a reputable training provider. But CIOs should make sure they know how to ‘play’ the skills market in terms of relevance, and the level of achievement represented by a qualification.

“CCNP and MCSE qualifications are regarded as highly valuable in the Middle East as they’re from Cisco and Microsoft – global companies that are recognised anywhere and have the same processes worldwide,” says Sell.

“CCNP certified professionals – mid-level professionals – are probably the most in demand in the Middle East,” states Alex Shelton, head of telecoms recruitment at recruitment specialists SNS Middle East.

“Candidates with the highest CCIE certification – or indeed a dual CCIE – are very hard to come by, but very desirable. Other key qualifications include JNCIA. Again, candidates with the highest JNCIA are very rare,” he adds.

7. Assess the need for premium skills

For all the emphasis on technical skills, CIOs should look at the composition of their IT teams and look at the combination of qualifications that will add the most substance. Today’s IT professional should be able to handle multiple technologies – but it is still rare to find one person with a comprehensive skills set. CIOs might need to look further afield for the right person.

“Very often, CIOs find it difficult to attract experienced candidates with skills to handle multiple complex technologies,” says Abdulrahman Ubare, head of technical operations at outsourcing specialist eHosting DataFort (eHDF).

“The calibre of candidates in terms of skills sets varies, and this has made it difficult for a CIO to hire a candidate locally. As a result, it is likely that CIOs have had to hire two candidates for one job. This has often led to them looking outwards into other Middle Eastern and Asian countries to seek human resources who are more appropriately skilled,” adds Ubare.

6. Invest in training

Good quality candidates will be attracted by the promise of on the job training, particularly if they are given the opportunity to achieve industry standard certification. Some CIOs might worry that they are simply adding weight to an employee’s CV, which will enable them to move on more swiftly. But combined with other incentives and a focused development programme, training is an important incentive to stay and learn more in a good position.

Hala Dabboussy, Symantec’s principal partner services manager, says that putting a permanent employee through a course to get a qualification is a great attraction tool, and a way to take on people at a junior level and build a skilled workforce: “In order for the CIO to keep a team of high quality staff they need to make sure that they are well trained on the products they will be handling. CIOs need to offer their staff regular training sessions when new releases are launched and encourage them to expand their skills by learning new technologies that complement their existing skills.”

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