Commentary
3/23/2017
01:00 PM

How to Find the Right Fit in IT Hiring

When it comes to hiring IT professionals, technical skills are important, but don't overlook the culture match.



Regrets don't make for a good employer/employee relationship. What CIO hasn't looked at a staff member and thought, "I don't get it. He seemed like such a great hire, but he just doesn't fit on the team." In retrospect, another candidate would have been a better choice, even though their technical skills weren't quite stellar.

Hiring goes beyond reviewing lists of certifications and an impressive resume. As hiring managers you need to understand culture, the culture of the job candidate and the culture of your organization. Then ask whether they match. That's the message the Joseph Eng wants to get across.

Joseph Eng, TravelClick
Joseph Eng, TravelClick

"Tech is a very sought after skill. We're always growing…We are always in this aggressive mode for talent. We have to make sure the person we are talking to is proficient with technology, how many years they have worked with Java or with mission critical applications or high throughput," says Eng, who is CIO of TravelClick.

"As tech people, it's very easy to be highly focused on those skills, hard skills. What I want to get across is that that's not all." 

"You can look at the person who has the greatest skills and they cannot get the job done," he notes.

Eng will be taking his message to the Interop ITX conference in May when he presents Talent is Skills Plus Culture on May 19.

In a recent interview, Eng touched on a mistake that many -- OK, I'll add most -- hiring managers make at some point. On first impression those managers are star struck by a candidate's resume, their skills, their past titles, and the prestige of previous employers.

"You can use the first-date analogy. You have a first date, and you are over the moon with somebody," he notes.

Eng will share his best practices in hiring during his Interop ITX session. For starters, you want to have multiple people involved in the evaluation process during several rounds of interviews, including team interviews. You want to have the human resources group on board. Remember that one of the skillsets that HR brings to the table is an ability to evaluate a candidate's soft skills. One way to get a candidate to display their "culture" is by asking questions such as, "Tell us about projects that you had difficulties with."

Also, he emphasizes that strong technical skills are still crucial in IT roles. However, there also has to be a balance between those hard tech skills and soft skills.

As CIO, Eng oversees and drives technology innovation for products, technologies, and operations at TravelClick, which provides cloud-based and data-driven solutions for hotels to maximize revenue. Most recently, he was CIO at JetBlue Airways where he led technology for the airline, including its successful customer reservation system transition. Prior to JetBlue, he was CIO for SWIFT, the mission critical financial services industry messaging provider.

Even managers who have done lots of hiring can pick up some useful tips, or be reminded of what they know down deep that they should have been doing all along. If you are new to the hiring process, Eng's best practices in recruitment and hiring will come in handy.

In either case, maybe you will look back some day and have fewer regrets.

[TravelClick CIO Joseph Eng will present Talent is Skills Plus Culture at 9 am on Friday, May 19, during Interop ITX at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.]

Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than two decades. As editorial director of InformationWeek and Network Computing, he oversees the day-to-day planning and editing on the site. Most recently he was editor ... View Full Bio
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