IT recruiting: Where to find top IT talent today

A low unemployment rate in today’s IT industry is good news for IT job seekers but presents a challenge for companies looking to build a rockstar IT team. Outsourcing a search to recruiters and poaching from neighboring and like companies are still popular ways to corral candidates. But some companies are having luck with more creative methods as well, including wearing t-shirts that ask “Want to join a well-funded startup?” to a meetup. That kind of cheeky approach may not be your company’s style, but here are a few proven sources your company should consider when on the hunt for IT talent.

New ideas for discovering IT talent

Hackathons

Facebook may have popularized the hackathon, which emphasizes rapid innovation and learning, but the multi-hour or multi-day fests have become an industry standard.  Given the way that hackathons offer insight into how individuals work, interact and think, companies looking for talent now also see them as opportunities for recruiting.  

Software developer Quick Left partners with like-minded companies in cities where its offices are located–Boulder, Colo., Portland, Ore., and San Francisco–for a number of hackfests each year.  “You can see how a person problem-solves,” says Quick Left director of engineering Jason Collins. “At a hackathon if a team is constantly hitting a wall and there is someone who is constantly bringing new ideas–that’s someone who could be good for the team.”

Training programs

Non-profit Year Up, which provides students with an intensive 12-month technology training to become IT analysts and desk support staff, has provided top-notch talent to companies like Facebook, Salesforce and Twitter.  Many hires begin as interns (a requirement of the program) and receive full-time offers at completion. Launched in 2000 with one office in Boston, it now has more than 10 locations across the country stretching from Silicon Valley to Miami.

ITT Technical Institute boasts a 65 percent or higher placement rate for new graduates from its computer network systems, cybersecurity and applications development tracks. LexMark and Cargill have tapped candidates from ITT’s programs, which offer associate and bachelors degrees. Companies looking to hire can coordinate with an ITT career services director for a tailored search to fit their specific needs. And as a bonus, ITT graduates students quarterly so companies looking to fill a role right away don’t need to wait until next May or June.

Community engagement

While most companies are reaching out to find talent, many also hope that potential hires will find them through their presence in the community. From sponsoring local events to hosting charity dinners, many companies are finding talent by creating awareness for their brand and what they stand for.

“We definitely like it when people come to us because they have seen us throughout the community,” says f5 staffing director Rich James. “It has turned up some great talent.”

Tried-and-true approaches to IT recruiting that still deliver

Universities

According to a report by the Computing Research Association, the number of students graduating with computer science or engineering degrees–advanced and undergraduate–has been on the rise for the last several years and companies are having success with new grads. With offices in Boston and Denver, startup Layer3 TV (which also wears the aforementioned t-shirts to help with recruiting) recently picked up a handful new employees after posting on college job boards in those cities.

Seattle-based f5 has had similar luck at schools. “It is surprising the level of talent you can find at a university,” says f5’s James. “I’ve seen people applying for an internship that could easily be a senior software engineer.”

Employee networks

Whether a company is established or just getting off the ground, current employee networks are still among the best recruiting tools. “I reach out to people from my past positions because they have their tentacles in the [IT] community,” explains Collins, who worked for software companies of all sizes before coming to Quick Left.

Similarly, f5 also recruits through its own employees and offers monetary incentives for hires that they help bring to the company, which according to James has been a successful approach.

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As technology becomes more and more integral to getting work done, there will be no getting around the need for top IT talent, be they developers, network administrators or device experts. Given the strong job market for those with IT skills, the best candidates may not come knocking, so the smartest companies will seek to integrate these successful techniques into their recruiting strategy.

Learn how Highfive approaches recruiting and share your best sources for finding talent in the comments.

Photo courtesy of Techcrunch