4 Tips for Hiring Innovative Tech Professionals

Great Java programmer? Check. Management experience? Check. Innovative thinker? Hmmm.

This last one may not be at the top of an IT manager's list, particularly in a competitive hiring market, but it probably should be. Technology shifts constantly and to keep up you need not only an adaptable team, but an innovative one. John Reed, Robert Half Technology's senior executive director, offers four tips for finding and hiring technology professionals who will shake up your team -- in a good way, of course. Check out the article here or read on:

"Look at the companies that were giants only a decade ago, but are now defunct or limping along. For many, the main reason for their decline is the failure to innovate. In the fast-evolving world of technology, it’s adapt and thrive — or fade away. That’s why when it comes to IT hires, it’s wise to select a candidate who will shake things up, question conventional wisdom, and cause uncomfortable but necessary disruptions to “the way we’ve always done it.” Here are four steps to finding, recruiting and hiring technology professionals who can bring fresh ideas to your company and take it to new levels: 1. Use a variety of resources Cast your net in as many pools as possible. Use both general job boards like Monster and Indeed, and specialized ones such as Dice.com. But don’t limit yourself to those sites. LinkedIn has robust search features and recruiting tools that can lead you to promising candidates. You should also go where IT innovators congregate. Check out Meetup.com to find local gatherings of specific knowledge workers. Tap into networking opportunities at upcoming technology seminars and conferences. Also, reputable staffing firms that specialize in recruiting skilled candidates for technology jobs can help speed the process of helping you to connect with experienced professionals.

2. Realize there is no “perfect” candidate Don’t discount an applicant whose resume doesn’t perfectly match the job description. A unique skill set may end up breathing new life into your IT team. If the candidate has most of the core skills you’re looking for, there’s plenty of time later to develop the “nice to have” abilities he or she may lack. Be flexible when narrowing your list of possible candidates, but do look for applicants who have a history of approaching work in fresh ways, adding value in previous roles, and applying both creative and analytical thinking.

3. Look for interpersonal skills IT candidates with a combination of stellar hard skills and essential soft skills are rare finds. When reviewing candidates’ application materials, look beyond education and job titles and consider the following:

  • Are the candidate’s cover letter and resume perfunctory and bland, or do they grab your attention and help to highlight specific successes?
  • Are there typos or grammatical errors in the cover letter/message or resume? Is the writing well organized? While you’re looking for a big-picture thinker, you also want someone who pays attention to details and has solid communication skills.
  • Do these and other attributes come across in the application (and in the phone screen and/or in-person interview): integrity, optimism, ethics, decisiveness, passion, compassion, holistic thinking, determination, persuasiveness, risk taking and fearlessness? Even if you’re not hiring a manager, you should always keep an eye toward the company’s future and look for candidates who possess leadership traits.

4. Ask nontraditional questions To select a candidate who will push your IT department and even the entire company, ask interview questions that will help you gauge their thought processes. You can pose the typical questions such as, “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” and “Why do you want to work for our company?” But also include some questions that are more quirky and unexpected. Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Name a once-great company that is now a shadow of its former self. What went wrong, and how would you have done things differently?
  • Google Glass: Discuss.
  • If you were pulling together a dream tech team, which personalities from history would you pick, and why?
  • You’re on a game show and have accrued half a million dollars. You can either stop the game now and go home with the money, or double it — or lose it all — depending on your answer to the next question. What would you do?
  • What is a quote you live by or that best describes you?

Bringing a new IT employee on board is an opportunity to inject the team with a healthy dose of innovation and change. Because your company can’t afford to stand still, take a chance and select a candidate who is unconventional and even a tad bit disruptive. After all, disruption is a hallmark of innovation in technology."