I get asked on a daily basis, “Why you? What do you do different than our current IT staffing vendors.”  The truth is that there are a minimum of 35 companies in any metropolitan area that “specialize” in IT Staffing.  I’m not going to “knock” any companies in particular–we all have plenty of reasons about why we think we’re better and different–ranging from the cost of our services to the guarantee of our services to the fact that we “specialize in IT”.

What does “specializing in IT” really mean though.  Does it mean that that’s the only vertical you work with, or does it mean that you actually have a deep understanding of technology within your company?  As all 35 of us fight to explain what makes us so different, we must all realize that the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)  serves as a phenomenal framework for executing any type of project (e.g. filling a job requisition), even if it has nothing to do with creating a software application.

There are five main phases of the SDLC:

1) Requirements gathering and analysis

2) System design

3) Development

4) System testing

5) Operations and maintenance (aka “Rollout”)

To answer my question above, a company that “specializes in IT” staffing is a company who’s Account Executive serves as the Project Manager of a job requisition and oversees the successful execution of all 5 phases of the SDLC in order to find, technically “vet”, and eventually place an “‘A’ Talent” candidate.

Any successful Project Manager understands that in order to successfully execute and rollout an application, 50% of the work needs to be done up front in the requirements gathering, analysis, and design phases.  What does this mean to an IT Staffing Account Executive?

It means that if you can get over the fact that you finally just received a job requisition that you might make a commission on and take the time to sit down with the hiring manager and ask what all of those silly acronyms mean and spend the time to understand what every requirement is, how important each requirement is, and what pain is causing someone to hire this person–you’ll be one step ahead of your other competitors that “specialize in IT.”  It’s also important to remember that if you do not have an understanding of these crucial requirements and the importance of them, that you are asking potential candidates the wrong questions.  So now you’re really two steps ahead…

Moving on to the System Design phase, once the appropriate time has been spent to gather and understand the requirements, it is important to determine how you are going to effectively manage your recruiting team in order to execute the “project” and source and evaluate candidates in order to find “‘A’ Talent”.  Who is going to hit the job boards?  Who is going to leverage their LinkedIn network?  Who is going to pick up the phone and head hunt out of the competition?  What are we going to do to make sure these candidates can do what they say they can do?  Do we ask them questions that we don’t know the answer to or do we hire people that do know the answer to do that for us?  By the way, if your answer is “we can just search the job boards”, then you might as well have all of the requirements wrong and forget about it.  This is not 2009 anymore, and candidates with strong skill sets in the IT world do not have a shelf-life like they did a year and a half ago.  Strong developers, analysts, project managers, IT executives, etc. NEED TO BE HEADHUNTED.  Headhunting is an art and I could write a whole additional blog on this. (But that will have to wait until next week).

If the quasi-Project Manager/Account Executive spends the appropriate time on the front end in the first two phases of the SDLC, the next two steps are smooth sailing!  The Development Phase is the search itself, and the Systems Testing phase is whatever you do to “vet” your talent.  As a hiring manager, I would be extremely inquisitive with your current selected IT Staffing vendors as to what they do in this Systems Testing phase.  Although there may be 35 of us out there, I guarantee only 3-5 of us are both administering technical test, evaluations, and interviewing engineers with engineers and project managers with projects manager and….well…you get the idea.

Finally, the Operations and Maintenance phase–ROLLOUT!  As a Project Manager, you must do what virtually every other Account Executive forgets to…stop counting your commissions and follow up with both the hiring manager and the placed candidate to make sure that both parties are happy and that each other’s expectations are being met and will continue to be met.  The last thing you want to have to do is a) listen to a client tell you that they missed a deadline because said-candidate stormed off unhappy or weren’t properly “vetted” OR, b) exercise your “unbelievable guarantee” that you used as a selling point but hoped to never honor.

To make a short blog long–whether you’re a hiring manager tired of interviewing poorly qualified candidates and trying to find a new vendor or a staffing company looking to improve your processes–follow the framework that the SDLC provides us, and spend the right time in the right phases, and you’ll likely be able to answer the “Why, you?” question a lot better next time, and turn a hiring manager from a one-time customer into a career-long advocate.

  1. Laura Apperson says:

    What you say is true on many levels. Being an HR Leader I can truly attest that not all IT Recruiting firms are the same. Working with a firm and a recruiter that understand SDLC saves a lot of time and money locating the right candidate for the right position and also matching them with the stages of development that the organization is not an easy feat. Failure to get the right fit can throw a monkey wrench into projects and processes that are vital for the organization to succeed and move forward.

  2. Jason B says:

    You’ve really hit the nail on the head here, Mike! Looking forward to additional posts.

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by bmbrennemanjr, mbrendamore. mbrendamore said: Successful IT Recruiting Must Emulate the SDLC https://bmbrennemanjr.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/successful-it-recruiting-must-emulate-the-sdlc/ […]

  4. Bruce says:

    I think you’ve got a perfect analogy. It’s funny, but as someone who works for a software design and development company, I too frequently see people eager to jump straight to step three without putting in the necessary and very valuable work up front.

  5. David Gardner says:

    I whole heartedly agree with your comments here Mike. The most important process in finding the resources a client is seeking is understanding the “DNA” of that organization and how that position fits into the firm’s vision of the project and/or team.

    Once delivery understands what the client is looking for, and most importantly, the “why this position is open in the first place”, the easier it is to find that talent in the market place. I’ve seen this over and over again. The result: A happy consultant, a happy client, and future business!!

    I look forward to future postings.


  6. tagesgeld says:

    Hi just thought i would tell you something.. This is twice now i?ve landed on your blog in the last 3 weeks looking for completely unrelated things. Great Info! Keep up the good work.

  7. suchheini says:

    That’s Too nice, when it comes in india hope it can make a Rocking place for youngster.. hope that
    come true.

  8. Sugel says:

    Jack and Suzy Welch write in their column The Welch Way about the perils of being in charge of hiring and the lessons theyve learned after 60 years of combined experience in their article Hiring is Hard Work. They state that even after all of their years in the business they still make mistakes when picking the right people for the job even if a candidate appears to be perfect there are certain pitfalls to which many managers succumb… There was a woman whom they nearly hired but later realized that she was not exactly what her resume implied.

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