“If you had said to me in 2001, ‘I’ve got a C++ developer,’ the guy could have walked on water and he’d have been struggling to get a job because all the development in most companies had stopped,” said Robert Half Technology regional vice-president Sandra Lavoy. RHT conducted the survey. “If I had 10 .Net developers I could get them all out on a job tomorrow. We interview in the three digits just in our Ottawa office every week. I have multiple orders I am struggling to fill.”And if those 10 .Net developers want to work at home, so be it.

“If you look at high-tech firms today, they have to be competitive because they recruit on skill sets that are hot,” she said. “If a .Net developer can work from home as well as at the office and he’s excellent, they’re (the employer) going to let it happen. That’s really key for IT people today. They don’t want sweat shop environments.”

Downturn mode
The delay companies face in hiring is due to the fact they are still hiring in downturn mode, rather than today’s development mode, she said.

“In late 1999 and early 2000 our clients were hiring at first interview – if you had a pulse and knew IT you’d get a signing bonus,” said Lavoy. “When the downturn happened people took a step back.”

But organizations have yet to adapt to the fact that business is booming, the unemployment rate is low (5.8 per cent in Canada) and most companies are now undertaking many projects they had put on hold.

Often what happens, said Lavoy, is RHT will offer one candidate for an interview, but companies will want to see three more. That’s a challenge, because there is a shortage of good, and available, IT professionals these days, she says.

Then it can take at least two weeks to do the interview process, followed by psych tests and reference checks. Then, if the company wants to make an offer, the candidate usually has to give two weeks’ notice at their place of employment.

“We make an offer to a candidate and it’s been three weeks since the first interview and they’ll say they have another offer from another company,” she said. “They’ll play one against the other.”

Susan Parsons, a principal at HR consultancy Mercer Human Resource Consulting, said HR departments can reduce the time to hire by doing a little workforce planning.

“They have to look at what the needs of the organization are today and what they will be going forward,” she said. “They also have to know where to source the talent they need.”

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