Hiring IT Stars: Where Are They?

Updated: April 30, 2009

With a recession looming and budget cuts occurring, your company might not be actively looking for IT job candidates right now. But belt-tightening times are exactly when a business should keep digging to find the top talent. Only outstanding candidates make a compelling case for adding to the company payroll , since those are the employees that can help make your department more efficient and cost-effective. Here are some of the places where your company can find the best and brightest candidates.

College Campuses: The number of new graduates with computer-science majors hit a new low in 2007. That's not necessarily bad news. Only the most dedicated and determined students enroll in this challenging curriculum now, so the quality of colleges' output is rising. According to the Computing Research Association, which tracks enrollment and graduation rates at 170 colleges, 8,000 bachelor's degrees in computer science were awarded 1n 2007. Your firm's next rising star could be one of them.

Trade Shows and Conventions: Budgets for attending trade shows and conventions are shrinking, so only key personnel get to go. You can find a much higher quality candidate at these events nowadays. Be sure to check out events' Web sites to see who will be speaking; often, speakers are the rising stars in their companies.

Trade Publications: When quoting an IT manager, most trade publications give the person's name, their title and the name of the company for which they work. This is a fine source of contacts for senior-management candidates.

ITtoolbox: You may have heard of this social-networking site for IT professionals, which boasts more than 1.2 million members. Many members of ITtoolbox are consultants or contract workers, while others are directors and executives. During tough staffing times, it is often easier to hire someone as a consulting or for a specific project than to add a permanent position to the payroll.

LinkedIn: This is probably the most effective business-networking site, with more than 10 million members. You can search for passive candidates by name, title, location, current and past companies, and other criteria. Each contact that you find has a network of other contacts that you can tap. Be sure to create a LinkedIn account and start building a network of passive candidates. Invite all of your colleagues to link up with you, then explore their networks. Every time you interview a candidate, get him or her to link to you as well. Soon, you will have hundreds of potential job candidates in your network.

User Groups: Go-getters often join user groups to network with other professionals and learn more about the hardware and software that they work with. There are user groups devoted to major, enterprise software packages, as well as to consumer-level hardware. Join a couple of user groups and start meeting qualified candidates through local meetings and online forums.

Night Schools: The best workers are often keen to continue their education. The adult-education section of your local university will have a job-referral program to help you reach students. There may be a bulletin board where you can post job listings or an entire library room devoted to literature about prospective employers. You might meet your next hire by taking a course or two yourself.

Wedding Announcements: You might be surprised to learn that wedding announcements can be a good source of potential job candidates. All newspapers have a wedding-announcements section, and it's often online. The names and occupations of happy couples are generally listed. If you see a "programmer analyst for Company X" who has just gotten hitched, you can easily track him or her down.

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