5 Rules for Hiring A.I. and I.T. Talent

The quest to hire developers, data scientists, and technology engineers is more competitive than ever before. It seems as though organizations in almost every industry need to grow their teams due to the ever-increasing need for a strong digital presence, apps, in-house I.T., tight cyber security, and other critical tech and A.I. based roles.

“With all of the tech startups and niche pharma companies popping up all over the country, it's no wonder there's much more demand for A.I and I.T specialists than supply. It poses a real challenge for hiring managers,” explains Sarah Groom, Director at Groom & Associates.

If you find attracting talent for these hot fields seems nearly impossible, your recruiting tactics might be in need of some updating. For a better shot at attracting A.I and I.T talent, consider these five rules.

1. Use a multi-faceted approach

Developers and data scientists aren't notorious for their outgoing nature and superior communication skills. Tracking them down isn't always easy, which is why relying solely on online job boards isn't the best approach. In addition to the usual online outreach, try deploying an employee referral program, hosting meetups, and outsourcing your hiring to professional recruiters who make searching for these specialists their full time mission.

2. Don't rely too heavily on years of experience

Wouldn't it be nice to hire a candidate with all the right technical qualifications, plus 10 years of leadership and executive experience? If you have to relax on one variable, let it be years of experience in a specific role. Many developers are valuable due to their keen attitudes, ability to learn new skills and, more importantly, ability to work well with others. 

In fact, highly specialized and experienced coders are sometimes known to have a “god complex”, as they are well aware of the demand for their skills. Egos are harder to deal with compared to a temporary lack of skills or leadership experience. Look for candidates with good experience and great attitude over ideal experience and overconfidence.

3. Keep company culture in mind, and hire accordingly

Sometimes, a good cultural fit can be as critical to making the right hiring decision as are hard technical skills. Employees who resonate well with company culture tend to last longer compared to those who are only in it for the money or other reasons. It's important to understand what the role offers a candidate – something more than just a salary. Know the hierarchical structure of the department, who they'll be working with, how much collaboration is expected, work-life balance policies, office environment, benefits, and more. Assessing candidates for cultural fit is key!

4. Become an expert salesperson

When recruiting A.I. and I.T. talent, it's important to keep in mind that candidates have many, many options when it comes to employment. Fail to properly pitch the job, and they'll lose interest faster than you can say software engineer. 

What these professionals are typically looking for is an interesting project that has a positive social or environmental impact, and something that will be challenging from day to day. In addition to your evaluation, make sure you also focus on selling the job and the company. Ensure you have all of the materials you need – printed or online presentations, etc – to make this happen.

5. Speak their language

Developers, programmers, and other kinds of scientists or engineers can tell right away if a recruiter or hiring manager truly understands the full nature of the role or not. To really attract top talent, know what you're talking about.

 “Many of our recruiters actually have educational and professional experience in the life sciences or computer technology, which helps us connect with candidates and really understand what they're looking for compared to those who've never actually done this kind of work themselves,” says Sarah Groom, from Groom & Associates.

When it comes to selecting a candidate from a narrowed-down pool, it's best to have a department manager and/or recruiter with a tech background assess them, rather than someone who only has general knowledge.

In a world where just about every company is in need of another DevOps Engineer or Chief Technology Officer, the task of identifying, attracting, assessing and hiring these professionals doesn't have to be impossible! Just as industries and roles are evolving at the speed of light, so can your recruitment tactics.
This article was written by Miriam Groom, VP of Sales and Marketing at Groom and Associates, a Canadian recruitment agency specialized in IT recruiting.