As the rate of technological innovation and complexity leapfrogs forward, the skills gap isn't the only hurdle facing businesses today. Especially as Millennials flood into the workforce, a different gap — between human resources and the IT department — continues to grow at alarming speed.
A CIO attempting to find an employee with expertise in Ethernet trunking and Hadoop would be hard-pressed to ensure candidates were up to par without overshadowing HR throughout the hiring process. Thankfully, the gap between IT and HR is largely organizational, and can be addressed by taking some basic steps to remove some of the barriers between both departments.
Here's what businesses can do to build the bridge between IT and HR.
Bring IT on board. In years past, IT professionals worked in cleanrooms, wore white lab coats, and had minimal interaction with the rest of the company. While the first two details have long changed, the third is still somewhat common, and obstructs effective IT hiring practices. HR may be handling the day-to-day technicalities of hiring new IT workers, but the sooner the IT department is looped into the process — through interviews, meetings or other methods — the more successful the hiring process will become.
It's much more efficient to identify employees who lack the requisite technical or "soft" skills early on in order to accelerate the entire hiring cycle. With Gen Y job candidates filling up the available talent pool (often with technical certifications or apprenticeships in lieu of traditional college degrees), including an IT expert during the interview process can be invaluable. More importantly, creating a united front between HR and IT can serve to improve ethnic and gender diversity in the workplace.
Develop specialists within HR. Sometimes the best way to bridge the IT knowledge gap within HR is to simply cultivate internal subject expertise. Whether through specialized training or previous career experience, HR professionals with a technical background are worth their weight in gold when it comes time to grow an IT team. If internal HR expertise is unavailable, consider appointing an employee of the IT side to serve as a liaison between the two departments.
Involving an employee with first-hand knowledge of your organization's IT environment helps HR understand what technical skills are in highest demand, which keywords to look for on applications, and how to better explain opportunities to candidates. This is also a valuable opportunity to include your existing Millennial employees in the hiring process, capitalizing on their natural tech savvy to help screen new recruits.
Plan for succession. Half of HR's battle when making an IT hire is time. More often than not, HR is scrambling to fill a critical personnel hole on a tight deadline. As a result, HR is forced to navigate between the twin risks of ignoring a young but potentially inexperienced candidate, and hiring an overqualified employee likely to leave the firm and create another talent hole in the near future. The IT department should work with HR to outline the responsibilities and skills of their employees before the need arises. Especially for keystone positions like system administrators, this allows the hiring process to begin before the employee in question has left the organization.
Outsource. In some cases, particularly when IT operations represent such a small component of an organization that internal approaches are inefficient, enlisting third party support may be the best way forward. Many firms specialize in IT talent sourcing — some focusing on specific skillsets, from web design to Big Data – and can perform much of the heavy lifting involved in identifying best match candidates. A third party can also help to address the emerging challenges inherent in hiring Millennials, who both work and think differently than their predecessors.
Depending on your firm’s needs, outsourced support can be scaled as necessary, from simply identifying and verifying technical competency to managing a larger portion of the hiring process.
Despite the rapid advances of technology, the IT department's needs don't have to be left behind by HR. Tighter integration and greater transparency in particular are vital components to rebooting the relationship between IT and HR, and better integrating Millennials into IT positions. By building a more tech-savvy HR department, whether through internal talent development or outside expertise, the IT hiring process has the potential to be painless.
How do you bridge the gap between IT and HR? What are you doing to improve the ethnic and gender diversity in the workplace?