Streamlined Hiring Key for Attracting IT Pros

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The laborious federal hiring process often means the public sector misses out on great talent.

Free food, nap pods and on-site video games are not the only things that attract top IT workers to leading tech companies such as Google and Facebook. Network World reports a streamlined hiring and onboarding process also is valuable to these in-demand workers, so much that leading tech companies are stepping up their game in this area.

That could be a problem for the federal government.  

The federal government has long been criticized for its lengthy and cumbersome application and hiring process, and IT has been no exception. Top IT workers often face multiple job offers, so a federal hiring process that typically takes months to complete could mean agencies are missing out on the best of the best. Even specific personnel flexibilities such as direct-hire authority may not get the best candidates on the job quickly enough.  

“Managers that are hiring IT talent, they’re pickier than ever and they’re hurting themselves,” Jack Cullen, president of IT staffing firm Modis, told Network World.

The unemployment rate for tech professionals was 2.7 percent in the first quarter of 2014, compared to the overall U.S. unemployment rate of 6.7 percent, according to IT jobs website Dice.com.

This is one of many reasons Wired Workplace last week posed the question of whether federal personnel reform should begin with IT. Agencies are years behind in terms of IT talent, so much that many CIOs are saying IT workforce issues – including training, recruitment and retention – remain their biggest challenge.

Readers who commented on last week’s post pointed to troubles with federal human resources, the pay structure for IT professionals as well as the lengthy federal hiring process.

“Until you can consistently hire someone in far less than 6 months, only a desperate candidate who can’t find other work (IT or otherwise) will still be waiting around for that callback,” one reader commented.  

Still, there’s also a responsibility of agency IT shops to work with HR to nail down the skills needed for the job and identify the best candidates for a position. That’s a topic that will be covered at the Federal CIO Council’s annual Boot Camp, which kicks off Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Social Security Administration CIO Bill Zielinski, who will speak about this issue at the CIO Boot Camp, told Wired Workplace last week he regularly works with Chief Human Capital Officer Reginald Wells to stay ahead on IT skillset needs.

“The CHCO is critical in helping the CIO leverage all the HR flexibilities available to maintain a modern IT shop that is able to meet the agency’s mission,” Zielinski said. “We are actively engaged in joint executive-level meetings, and this collaboration is an effective tool in our strategic planning efforts.”

Is your agency missing out on key IT talent because of the lengthy and cumbersome hiring process?

(Image via Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock.com)