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New age talent hunt

As technically qualified people rarely come up on job boards or professional networks, more and more companies are relying on search engines to locate 'unfindable' talent

Sanjay Modi 

Successful companies have one thing in common - productive human capital. There is nothing more fundamental to the success of an organisation than hiring and developing talent that encourages growth and progress. Yet it continues to be one of the biggest challenges for employers and this is truer today as technology has fashioned a more interactive, integrated and accessible hiring landscape, where connections have increased but so have the complexities of reaching out to candidates. So how can one identify and engage with the best talent out there?

You see, the demand for professionals in software, design and technology is increasing. A report by Gartner predicts that India will be the second largest IT market in the Asia Pacific region by 2018. South Korea is being hailed as the next global hub for tech start-ups. In Singapore, the IT and telecom sector experienced the highest growth in online recruitment last year. The reason is simple: From 3D printing to wearable technology, there are cataclysmic innovations taking place across the industry. In 2015 alone, Intel Corp plans to invest about $62 million in 16 technology companies, working on wearables, data analytics and the internet of things. Businesses everywhere are increasingly adopting digital platforms and to drive these changes, they will need competent IT professionals, from chief data officers to programmers and specialists who can provide them extra edge.

As the demand for technology professionals goes up, businesses will face the challenge of finding and retaining top-shelf talent. Hiring managers are already paying top dollars for specialised skills because these are hard to come by. Recruiters often find themselves crawling through websites, online forums, blogs and social communities to find skilled professionals. One of the hardest to find are technical candidates who come with specialised skill sets and areas of expertise that are difficult to assess through traditional recruitment techniques. They rarely check out job databases and hardly ever update their profiles. This makes them extremely "unfindable".

So where and how will companies find them?

As technical talent are seldom active as job seekers, they rarely come up on job boards or professional networks. These hard-to-find technology professionals are active otherwise - updating their skills, sharing learning, writing blogs and discussing their areas of work. In a manner of speaking, their online activities demonstrate their professional skills and capabilities. And this is where technology can step in to revolutionise the hunt for skilled technical talent.

The key is to find and contact them in the places they frequent and the social web is an integral part of this. Talent search engines, hence, identify and scout places that are specifically frequented by such technical candidates, sites such as GitHub, StackOverflow, Twitter, MeetUp etc. Their activities on these sites provide access to invaluable information relating to their interests, tastes, values, competence, work ethics and styles of operating, which are some of the best indicators of how well a person will perform on a job.

And why is that so important? According to a majority of employers in India, only two out of 10 correspondences with job seekers actually convert into hiring. It is no longer enough to send mails because job seekers are spending a large chunk of their time on social networks and in specialised communities. Talent search engines provide direct access to email addresses; then there are networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, which are more relevant and instant in facilitating conversations. They also offer automated features to send out and track emails to facilitate more conversation in less time. By tracking email clicks and opens, recruiters can prioritise their time on candidates who appear more engaged.

Some companies have been doing this in unique and creative ways. Recently, Google came out with a supremely cryptic online challenge, allegedly to find new recruits. It invited select people, based on their online search history, to take the challenge. The message that appeared before these potential candidates was clear: "You speak our language. Would you like to take a test?" Google understood that in order to cut through the din, it needed to operate on their playing field.

As you can see, there is plenty of fish in the sea but finding a good catch requires some effort.

Sanjay Modi
Managing Director,, India/Middle East/Southeast Asia/Hong Kong

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First Published: Mon, May 18 2015. 00:06 IST