If you’re struggling to secure IT talent it could be because your hiring process is a little haphazard. Here’s our advice on how a proactive recruitment strategy can help to lift your game.

By Todd Sekulich

As the term suggests, reactive recruitment is when a company ‘reacts’ to a recruitment problem, say, by initiating a talent search when an employee leaves. Proactive recruitment, on the other hand, involves anticipating staffing needs and seeking suitable candidates before problems arise.

The ‘play it by ear’ approach could pass muster if there was an abundance of skilled workers on the market at any given time. In the IT sector, however, the landscape is fiercely competitive and, if predictions are right, it’s set for an even bigger squeeze. To keep pace with our digital economy, research from 2017 shows Australia will need an extra 81,000 IT specialists by 2022 – at present, there are no more than 4,000 graduates coming in each year.

In this climate, it’s only by putting a proactive strategy in place that you can hope to attract the best talent.

So what does a proactive strategy look like?

Essentially, it’s a road-map aligning your talent acquisition needs to business objectives. Start by considering all of your operational objectives, projects and initiatives and prioritises roles depending on whether they’re critical, strategic, on the ground, definite, maybe, and short or long-term etc. You can then work backwards from there in terms of tactics.

How can a proactive strategy help you secure better candidates?

If you’re just reacting to immediate needs when they arise, you’re only able to access candidates who are ready to move at that time. This generally leads to less suitable, less engaged candidates and possible performance issues down the track.

The advantage of a proactive strategy is it gives you the opportunity to engage and nurture passive candidates. That means you avoid missing key hires when you really need them and are better placed to hit your business goals.

Ok, but is a proactive approach more time consuming? 

You’ll need to make more of an upfront commitment to being proactive, but it will save you time in the long run.

The hiring process is much more efficient and you’ll interview fewer people, typically only two or three candidates.

How does it affect the candidate experience? 

Good candidates will see the recruitment process as a reflection of what it’s like to work at your company. If you’re reacting all the time, it can be quite chaotic and you’re going to burn some people along the way. Our research shows that if candidates have a negative recruitment experience, they may deter colleagues from going for an interview, impacting on your future hiring ability.

When the process has been thought through as part of a cohesive strategy you’ll be making far better presentations to your talent pool.

Your recruitment partners can also work more closely with candidates ahead of time to communicate your point of difference.

How can I develop a proactive strategy for my business?

The first step is a business discovery phase to understand what’s going on in your business, including your goals, challenges and risks.

Next you want to look at your technology recruitment process. Are you following best practice and is your process optimised to get you the best results?

From there look at specific job briefings, both current and future, to ensure you’re working ahead as much as possible. A good recruitment partner will work with you through these steps.

Is a proactive approach suitable for all roles and companies?

Generally, smaller companies are going to be more proactive because they need better talent to compete, but every company can do it.  It’s primarily about getting organised. You can either be in a mad scramble all the time or get your line managers prioritising recruitment. This also gets them thinking about what excites candidates in this pool and how you can tweak your offering to reflect that.

These days, anything in digital tech is mega competitive and a lot of functions within that are very talent-scarce. Any candidate on the market has at least six options to choose from – you need to get to them beforethey’re considering those six.

Learn more about our client services and how we can help you recruit the best tech talent.