IT staffing is the act of finding job candidates with the specialized skills needed to fill technology roles on your team. And with the computer and information technology industry constantly expanding and evolving, the staffing process is changing too.
There are a lot of positions to be filled and ones that require highly educated workers. These roles are frequently increasingly specialized as new technology comes on the market and old skills become obsolete. The person you hire to handle software development won’t necessarily be the same person you’d want to oversee your network’s security. So, how do you find the IT industry’s best candidates with the required skill sets for specific roles?
Since IT hiring is a skill of its own, it’s sometimes not enough to work with recruiters at a staffing agency or make a direct hire. Whoever is leading the hiring process needs to understand the nuances of the industry and the technical skills a job candidate needs to succeed. Of course, as you move through the process, your business needs—and the skills required to meet them—should be front and center.
In this article, we’ll outline:
- What is IT staffing?
- Pros and cons of IT staffing
- 7 IT staffing tips to properly staff your IT team
- Alternatives to an IT staffing agency
What is IT staffing?
IT staffing is the process of finding and hiring the top IT professionals to complete certain tasks or projects or do ongoing work for your business. These open positions might run the gamut from full-time positions and contract-to-hire roles to filling short-term temporary staffing needs.
Traditionally, IT staffing refers to a company working with an outside IT staffing service agency to recruit professionals and connect with qualified job seekers. But IT staffing can be accomplished internally through an HR team, as well.
As IT roles become more specialized, IT recruiting is becoming more nuanced and complicated. IT is a broad field with a number of specialized areas and subgroups, including cybersecurity, software development, IT infrastructure, IT support, and data management.
They’re all technical positions that require different skills. Those outside the IT sector might not understand that just because someone is an amazing software developer doesn’t mean they’ll work out well in a data management position.
As technology evolves, these roles will only become more specialized. Recruiters and hiring managers need to understand they’re filling positions that require subject matter experts with specific IT skill sets.
Pros and cons of IT staffing
Generally, IT staffing refers to when a company hires a staffing services agency to hire qualified talent. Working with an outside company to fill these important roles has various pros and cons. Here are some to consider before you sign a contract with a staffing agency.
Pros of IT staffing
There are a lot of positives to working with a staffing firm. Here are a few to keep in mind:
- The process might move faster than if your business handled recruiting and hiring on its own.
- Staffing companies might provide access to a wider pool of top talent. Since they’re established recruiters, they already have a pool of job seekers to cull from, and as hiring experts, they understand how to reach others.
- These firms could help you connect with workers with highly specialized skills.
- Having others focus on hiring could free up more of your time and other resources. The less time you spend interviewing candidates and reviewing applications, the more time you can spend on managing your team and focusing on IT projects.
Cons of IT staffing
There are also potential drawbacks to using an IT staffing solution. Some disadvantages include:
- Working with a recruiting firm can be more costly, as the markup on a worker hired through these firms can be as much as 100% of their hourly wage. That’s a lot of money to spend when a direct hire can be much less expensive. Do you want the hiring process to eat into that much of your budget?
- You typically have less control over the hiring process when working with a middleman—the staffing agency representative—which could be frustrating for some IT business leaders.
- There’s potential for lack of transparency and communication issues if you’re not fully in the loop about who the agency is talking to and where they stand in the hiring process. This could slow the process down, and if you’re not intimately involved every step of the way, you could wind up with a pool of candidates you wouldn’t have selected yourself.
- The staffing agency’s pool of workers might not fit your specialized IT needs. We’ve already talked about how IT jobs can be highly niche. If you’re not working with a company that specifically deals with IT talent, you might be wasting your time, as many of them likely don’t have access to the technical talent you need.
- If you’re not interviewing and assessing candidates yourself, you may not get a feel for whether a candidate fits in well with your company culture. It would be a shame to spend the time, money, and other resources hiring a candidate who your hiring manager might have weeded out early in the process once they realized they weren’t a good fit culture-wise.
7 IT staffing tips to properly staff your IT team
As you staff your IT team and assemble the professionals needed to fill each role, it’s important to consider the needs of each project. As you take on new clients and initiatives, what critical skills does your current team lack, and how can you fill those gaps?
Here are seven tips for helping you staff your IT team.
1. Identify your goals and needs
Before you can begin staffing your team, have a clear picture of what you’re trying to accomplish. Create a list of projects and goals. Then, determine what skill sets are required to achieve each goal.
You may also want to list your needs chronologically and/or by order of importance so that you can understand the big picture more clearly, leaving you better prepared for making staffing decisions.
2. Assess the strengths and skills of your current team
The next step involves determining what skills your current team already has. You may want to speak with each team member and ask what types of technology they are most comfortable with and where they feel their strengths and weaknesses lie.
During this process, it’s helpful to keep in mind the trainability and adaptability of your current team members. It might be better to train a current worker than to engage someone else for a particular task in some instances. It also makes sense to get a good picture of each team member’s current workload to determine the feasibility of requiring additional learning.
3. Identify IT skills gaps
Create an inventory of skills needed for each IT role. Since you’ve already identified what skills your team members already possess, it’ll be easy to determine where your gaps lie by cross-referencing them against your list of needs.
For example, you may identify a lack of cybersecurity expertise among current team members. Or you may need someone with cloud engineering or data science experience. Make a list of all required skills and responsibilities that are not currently covered by your existing workforce.
Once you have this list, you may break it into two lists—one that includes skills that you can train your current team members on and another that includes skills that may require an independent contractor.
4. Create a training plan for existing team members
If there are skills that will come in handy in the long term for your company, taking the time to train your current team members might be the most efficient plan. This training can be done in-house if you have experts on the subject or outsourced to a training company or contractor.
Make sure the training is in place on the right timeline for your projects’ needs. Schedule plenty of lead time so that everyone can plan accordingly.
5. Establish clearly defined roles for prospective team members
New hires will cover the remaining technical skill gaps on your list. You’ll want to consolidate these needed skills into coherent bundles so that each bundle will make sense for a single expert to tackle.
Make sure that the skills go together in some way when bundling them. You’re likely to have better luck finding someone who can tackle related skills than someone who possesses the desired depth of knowledge in disparate skill sets.
Create job descriptions to go with each needed position, clearly laying out the required skills and associated duties and expectations. Don’t forget to include soft skills, such as the ability to work well in teams, since this will be important, too.
6. Assemble a team of diverse talent
You won’t find one person who has every single skill your team needs. And as IT becomes more specialized, it’s unlikely that such a person—someone who fully understands and stands out in every area of the field—even exists. Your new hires should fill specific skills gaps on your team.
As a resource for companies seeking experienced workers, Upwork makes it easy for you to connect with talented independent professionals and the skills you’re looking for on your team.
So, as you staff your IT team, hire experts in specific areas who you can rely on when those skills are called on for a specific project or task. Having a number of superstar workers in various focused areas allows you to pull the puzzle pieces together for an overall stellar team.
7. Embrace remote workers to find the right candidates
The way people work is constantly evolving, especially when it comes to the IT sector. Don’t be afraid to staff a team of remote workers and those based in an office or even a team made up entirely of remote workers.
If you’re looking to fill a role that requires very specific skills and limit yourself to your geographical area, you might not find what you need. If you cast your net a little wider, though, and open yourself to potentially hiring remote workers around the world, you’re more likely to have a larger pool of talent to consider and new hires who could make a major impact on your team.
For instance, if you’re a New York-based company, and the best person for a role you’re looking to fill is located in Australia, why would you turn them down?
Alternatives to an IT staffing agency
When creating an IT team, you need team members with talent and know-how, group cohesion, and efficient communication. After all, your team’s effectiveness will directly reflect on the outcome of what they can produce.
Creating a hybrid IT team allows you to bring in skilled workers alongside your permanent team in a way that can fill any skill gaps. With technology changing so rapidly, you can anticipate that these skill gaps will exist with any new project.
The agility and flexibility gained by assembling your teams with this hybrid model can give your business the tools and skills needed to increase productivity and keep your company at the top of the market.
Let us help you find the IT talent you need; at Upwork, you can find the right independent talent to meet your ever-changing needs.
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