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Take This Job And Shove It… Can We Talk About Retention?

Dear Minnesota CEO’s... An Open Letter On IT Recruiting

Dear CEO’s,

Today in the StarTribune is an article from Adam Belz (@adambelz) Minnesota companies need IT workers, but stumble in hiring.

I missed Adam’s phone call, and his deadline, to contribute to the article. I agree with what he published and after speaking with him today look forward to future articles on this and related topics.

Here is what I want you to do…

Read it.

Right now... read it.

And then read the comments section. Try to get through some of the political comments and rants.

Do you really want to know what your IT staff is thinking? There it is.

Now what are you going to do about it?

See, you can’t sit in your office, board meeting, angel investor meeting and lament about the “talent shortage” without asking yourself these questions:

- Does anyone know we are hiring?

- Do we have an adequately staffed HR/Recruiter team? Do they have the resources they need to find who we are looking for? Do they have the time to recruit for what is needed today and also for next week, next month, next quarter?

- Once they find who they are looking for do we have an interviewing, hiring and onboarding process that works?

- Are we competitive with salary, bonus, stock options (for startups), career path, cool technologies and new things to work on, office space, etc?

- Is the experience the candidate has with us from first contact through the interview stage a good one?

- What are we doing to promote the Minnesota IT community? Are we supporting user groups and conferences? Are we bringing in speakers and thought leaders?

- Retention... if everyone is recruiting (and it seems that way) do we have a plan in place to retain our current staff? We do, right?

Now ask yourself this one question and be really honest about it:

- I am a developer, network administrator, project manager; whatever... would I go to work at our company?

Seriously, would you leave what would be your current employer for your company?

My guess is your company looks like every other company (there are some exceptions):

- Your salaries have barely increased since the Great Recession

- Your benefits are not back to what they were pre Great Recession

- You are doing little if any staff development and training

- Internships, you stopped doing those a while ago

- Look at your career page... does it excite you? Does it get your blood pumping and do you think “Hell yeah, this is a place I want to work at” or is it boring with a bunch of legal and HR speak from five years ago?

- Do you have job descriptions with 12 bullet points that essentially combines two jobs into one? And barely paying market rate for the one job?

Look, you can talk about the “War for Talent”, the “Labor Shortage” and the “Skills Gap” all you want. I have “Breaking News” for you… you would still have a recruiting problem.

Today ERE.net, one of the national HR and Recruiter web sites, has this blog post Sacred Cows and Silly Practices Die Slowly in Recruiting

Question, how many of these things do you do?

This would be about the time I should apologize for my sarcastic tone. Not this time. I am done being nice about this. You can’t complain if you are not doing anything about the situation.

Here are two recent posts with similar thoughts, focusing on recruiting for startups:

Conversation With A... Startup CEO: “But Paul, I Don’t Have Time To Recruit”

MinneDemo 14 Recap | Thoughts On Recruiting

Wrapping up...

Remember 2007? The “War for Talent” was the phrase of the day. And yes, it is back. I am not a fan of the phrase but it gets the point across.

What did you do during the Great Recession to prepare for the recovery?

What have you done since March of 2010 when the IT jobs market started to rebound?

If nothing, then this recruiting problem for now is on you.

Continue to ask yourself… would you work for you?


Paul DeBettignies
Minnesota Headhunter, LLC


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Julie K

I'd add one or two extra questions.

1. Are you willing to consider someone who has been or is currently unemployed?

2. Have you decided you can somehow hire someone with 5+ years experience for an entry level position?

I have seen companies making poor decisions in this regard. If someone's start-up tanked, they may be unemployed but a great candidate. And the thought that "the economy's tough I bet we can get someone overqualified at a bargain basement price!" still happens, and is still dumb.

Billy Cripe

Great article - both yours and Belz's in the Strib!

Business's desire for specialists and deep expertise without the willingness to pay for that experience is daunting.

Similarly the expectation that Junior and entry level staff can fulfill the strategic needs of an organization that desires to grow or scale is a proven pathway to stagnation and failure.

Thanks for raising awareness!

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