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talent (305 x 305)

The phrase “Hire for Natural Talent and Train for Skills and Knowledge”  was coined by Bill Gibson from Knowledge Brokers International, who did some training with the RAW IT team.

In the current South African market, there is a tremendous shortage of IT skills. We have many more positions than we have available candidates.

This situation is further compounded by the following:

  1. Employers want candidates with the EXACT skills they require
  2. Employers are constrained in terms of the remuneration packages they are able to offer
  3. Some employers insist on a tertiary qualification

So, let’s address each of these issues:

1. Employers want candidates with the EXACT skills they require

Nine times out of ten, a candidate will only have the exact skills you require if he/she is already working for you. No two IT environments are exactly the same, so you may be presented with a candidate that has most of the skills you require, but you will need to train him/her on some others. Remember this, IT candidates make career moves in order to learn new skills. If he/she can already do everything you require, your opportunity is not that attractive to them – they’ve been there, done that. If, however, you are prepared to take his/her current skills and upskill him/her on some others, your opportunity suddenly becomes a very attractive option to the candidate. You want your opportunity to be attractive, because you are competing for this candidate. He/she is also meeting with a number of other companies. In other words, hire for natural talent and train for skills and knowledge!

2. Employers are constrained in terms of the remuneration packages they are able to offer.

You have found a candidate you like and you make him/her an offer.  Over and over again, in the current economic climate, employers are offering the same or, wait for it, less than the candidate is currently earning!  I understand that there are budget constraints within a company, but the candidate also has his/her own budget constraints. Would you move for less money?  The only time that offering a candidate the same as what he/she is currently on, is acceptable, is when there is a lot of training and gaining of new skills involved. In such instances, candidates have no hesitation moving for the same money, because they know there will be long term rewards, ie learning new skills. You will not get a champagne candidate on a beer budget. If you only have X to spend on the remuneration package, then hire for natural talent and train for skills and knowledge!

3. Some employers insist on a tertiary qualification

You have seen a CV and the candidate seems perfect for your position. But, then you have a look at his/her education and oh dear, he/she only has matric. No tertiary qualification. Sorry, can’t see him/her. Whaaat? In this skills short market? Some of the most successful people in the world didn’t even finish school, let alone university. Don’t be fixated on the qualifications – look for talent. People with natural talent, can be taught anything. Someone with a degree, but no natural talent, will be much harder to teach.

When I started in recruitment in 1996, there were just not that many IT boffins out there. Most were still pretty new to the industry. I remember that, if someone had read a book on C++ programming, he/she would be hired as a C++ Programmer. That is the honest truth. When SAP became the next big thing, same story – people had to be trained. Employers were prepared to train and invest in their staff and, as a result, staff retention was much higher then. You invest in your staff and they will invest in you. All those people were Hired for Natural Talent and Trained for Skills and Knowledge, to become the IT boffins they are today!

(c) Wilma Gerber 2016

changing_jobs (305x 305)

Changing jobs is one of the most stressful experiences to go through. It’s always a case of “better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t”. However, having been in recruitment for the past 20 years, I guarantee that, if you follow the steps below, you can make the whole process so much easier on yourself or, you may not make a career move at all, which will save everyone concerned, but mostly you, a lot of time and stress.

1. Carefully consider your true reason for wanting to leave.

I have seen so many instances where the reason that you are looking to leave your company, is something that can be sorted out by your manager, if he/she was aware of your problem. If you would stay with your current company if this was sorted out, then it is only fair to speak to your manager first. Remember, addressing your concerns with your manager is your right as an employee and you need not be afraid of doing so. Of course, the way you address the issue must always be professional, unemotional and non threatening, i.e never threaten to leave the company. 

Once you have addressed the issue with your manager, give them an opportunity to address your concerns and a reasonable time period to sort it out. Most times, your manager will have to consult with others and things don’t happen overnight. Have a timeline in mind, which will obviously be determined by the magnitude of the problem. You know your company and how quickly or not something can be sorted out.  If they make no efforts to address your issue or it is not addressed to your satisfaction, only then make your move.

If you do not address this upfront, it will come up when you hand in your resignation and that is when your manager will say “Why didn’t you just tell us?”

If you are unsure of how to go about this, you are always more than welcome to give one of the consultants at RAW IT, or myself, a call and we will help you.

2. Have realistic job expectations.

Remember that a prospective employer is almost always looking for someone with your current skill set. They are not going to employ you for something you would “like to do”. That does not mean that you will never be able to do what you would like to do. It simply means telling your recruitment consultant what your ideals are and looking for a position that can offer you these opportunities, in time. In other words, if you are currently a Project Administrator, you will not walk into your next job as a Project Manager. You do not yet have the skills to do so. You may need to start as a Project Administrator again, with the prospect of growing into a Project Manager role. But, then again, maybe your current company can offer you the same opportunity if you initiate step 1 above.

3. Have realistic salary expectations.

You will NOT double your salary when you move. The prospective employer has met with you roughly 2-3 times for about an hour. Maybe 2-3 hours in total. They are also taking a chance on you and you need to go in and prove yourself first. Then the money will come. The purpose of changing jobs is not because you are currently in financial difficulties and need more money – see your bank manager for that. A company does not pay you in accordance with your personal financial circumstances. They pay you for what your skills are worth. Too many people change jobs just for the money. You know what? It only takes 2-3 months to get used to the extra money and then you are back at square one.

Yes, there certainly are instances where we see candidates that are grossly underpaid for what they do and, in those cases, we will fight for a market related salary.

Trust what your consultant is telling you. He/she knows the market and what the related salaries are. So, if he/she tells you that you are being unrealistic, believe it!

4. Make sure you can attend interviews.

You need to have the time to attend interviews. There is nothing more frustrating than constantly having to reschedule interviews on your behalf and it really makes you look very unreliable. Decide what time of day you can do interviews, be it lunchtimes only or at 4pm in the afternoon. Tell your consultant and he/she and the prospective employer will do their very best to accommodate you.

We understand that, sometimes, circumstances at work dictate that you just cannot get away, but this should be the absolute exception and not the rule.

5. Make notes before and after each interview.

Make a list of all the things you would like to know from a prospective employer and make sure you ask them in the interview. An interview is a 2-way street. It’s for the employer to see if you are a match for them and for you to see if they are a match for you. If you are going on a number of interviews, make notes after each one, otherwise you will become confused and not remember who said what or what job involved what. Write down the pros and cons of each job you interviewed for, as soon after as you can. This will help you to keep all your ducks in a row.

6. Make an informed decision.

NEVER base your decision purely on money. You want to grow in your career. Is the job that you are being offered, going to increase your skill set? At the end of the day, skills are what will ensure that you are always employed. If a position is not right for you, do not accept the offer. On the other hand, do not decline an offer because there are still some things you feel you would like to know. Don’t be afraid to ask. We can always arrange for you to go back to the prospective employer to clear up any questions you may have or arrange for you to speak to them telephonically. Make sure you have all the information you require before making your decision.

7. Counter Offer.

The day has come and you have accepted another position and signed the paperwork. You go in to resign. If you followed my advice and exercised step 1, then there should be no discussion around a counter offer.

If you did not exercise step 1 and accept a counter offer, then steps 2 – 6 have been a huge waste of time for everyone involved.

The most important things to remember when accepting a new position and then accepting a counter offer from your current employer, is the following:

a) The manager who made you the job offer, may one day be working for a company you would really like to work for. Do you think they will consider you again?

b) Your current company is making the counter offer mainly because they don’t want the schlep of finding someone else. This takes up too much of their time plus time to get the new person up and running, so it’s easier to counter offer you. But, ask yourself this: “What makes you worth more today, than you were yesterday?” If they can afford to suddenly pay you R5000 a month more, why didn’t they do so long ago?

c) Even if they counter offer and you accept, you have broken the trust relationship because, guess what? Your manager really would have wanted you to initiate step 1 in the first place!!! 

I hope this article leads to one of two things:

You realise that you are working for an awesome employer and stay where you are


You have an awesome job hunting experience

(c) Wilma Gerber 2016

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