I’ve been contacted by at least 5 different local (SW VA) IT Recruiting firms in the last 3 months or so. I know that despite the general hard economic times, good software people are hard to find. So I’m sure there’s something to be said for the value of providing access to known, but out-of-work talent. I’m still trying to find the business advantage for a company like mine, however. I invite any such recruiters to make the case here (I know some of you already read my blog)

Here’s my perspective. The hiring process at Vision Point Systems is very subjective. We hire people, for whichever position, that we feel will be a good consultant in whatever their specialty is. This is a qualitative trait that is hard to filter in any sort of pre-screening or skills assessment that I would expect a recruiter to do. In that case, I would expect to have to interview any candidate directly myself anyway. Interviewing seems to be the most time-consuming part of the process from my position. I’ve gotten into a good rhythm and am comfortable with the productivity of the traditional job posting channels we utilize today (jobs.roanoke.com or Hokies4Hire, for example)

I also don’t like spending as much time on the phone as I do with the recruiters on a recurring basis, when I haven’t yet reached out to any for them to help me fill a position. I won’t be looking forward to the number of calls I would be receiving if I do engage a firm’s services.

The other value argument I’ve heard is the “trial period” arrangement. This means I could hire someone through a staffing firm and not have to worry about signing the new employee up for benefits, etc, until we’re confident they are a good fit. This isn’t how I like to approach hiring. I want new hires to come on board with a sense of ownership right away. Keeping them at arm’s length by having them off the payroll doesn’t match the culture I’m working to build.

All this being said, I’m sure the recruiter model works in some situations – larger or product-based companies, for example. For a small consulting firm where everyone is expected to carry the company banner, I just don’t see the value.

So please, anyone with another perspective on this, chime in.

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Roanoke Career Fair Report

January 1, 2009

Brian Alexander and I manned the booth for Vision Point Systems at yesterday’s 2008 Roanoke Holiday Career and Lifestyle Fair put together by the City of Roanoke and Stuart Mease. My takeaways from the event really boil down to the following:

  • The industry we are in – Software and Business Consulting – is definitely not a good representation of the general population
  • There is very little trained talent out there for software related work that don’t already have good jobs.
  • Yes, there are a lot of people who are jobless, but a large percentage of those people are nowhere near suited for anything resembling a professional career.

In all of the business association and groups I participate in, it’s always a common topic that recruiting for tech jobs is near impossible, especially in the Roanoke and New River Areas. Yesterday’s event did nothing to dispell this thought. The only attendees that had specific experience or training in computer related fields consisted of some computer/electrical engineers with specific experience on a narrow field, and at least one college student studying technical writing. The vast majority of people were noticeably intimidated and quickly ran away any time I mentioned “design specification”.

I don’t know how unique VPS’s position really is, but we’re getting ready to hire multiple people going into 2009. I know many other local tech companies are looking for similar recruits, as evidenced by the NCTC Job board. I think this again shows that there is a dearth of talent stateside, especially in this region. I hope that one of the result of the pending “correction” in the economy is to get our youth into programs in the universities that would be helpful to the NewVa Corridor Tech community.

My other point about the preparedness of population for work really centers around professionalism and, frankly, laziness. I know the lifestyle is different in the white-collar, shake-hands, business community I’m a part of, but even if I was interviewing to be part-time dishwasher at a famous fast food franchise, I still don’t think I’d meet with the hiring manager wearing a Nascar jacket and cut-off shorts. I’m embellishing a bit, but not much. I don’t know how things got this way, but you’ll never see the local news channels comment on the people who apparently seemed to show up to the fair expecting jobs to be handed to them.