A technologist explains TCP/IP like this on the left, compared to how we explain it on the right.

Training can’t stop for IT Recruiters

By Mark Knowlton

IT Recruiters have a unique set of challenges among knowledge workers. With minor exceptions, most people enter IT Recruiting through one of the following paths:

  • Get hired at an agency right out of college
  • Transition into an agency role as a career-changer from some other sales or administrative role.
  • Corporate TA departments rarely hire completely raw rookies instead of well-qualified candidates with proven experience.

In both cases, these two types of workers are at the same disadvantage: They likely possess little to zero detailed knowledge about Information Technology. However, they are put into position to be a broker in uniting two vastly technical groups: Engineering managers and technologists.

The result is that these people get tossed to the wolves immediately because their employer needs to find out if they have what it takes to survive. Nothing supersedes getting new hires to hit their KPIs. Each new hire was brought aboard by someone who likely never got detailed IT training, just like the person who brought them into the business.

The attrition in Staffing is unparalleled, as owners accept the reality that 2 out of 3 hires will be out of the industry within 4 years. Trying to pump a bunch of IT knowledge into new hires just doesn’t make sense to owners, who contend with 4–5% profit margins despite revenue that could reach eight figures.

There are no shortage of programs that offer some type of IT training for recruiters, but they all have a few things in common:

  • They require the trainee to stop doing their job to get fed highly perishable content.
  • Most of the material is based on dry terms and definitions.
  • These programs are almost entirely dependent upon rote memorization.
  • None of these attributes scale, not even remotely.

This is why TechScreen is offering a far more scalable solution by combining two traditionally disparate business processes: Recruiting and Training. This innovation ushers in a new category of HR Tech product: The Technical Knowledge Accelerator.

The Technical Knowledge Accelerator allows users to leverage training slides to qualify IT candidates with content simple enough for a teenager. It it has 12 training modules that offer the industry’s only technical certification for recruiters. It also has a technical interview platform armed with a library of 120 IT skills with questions and answers. It has 3 different levels of technical complexity so users can get comfortable in asking and scoring technical responses from candidates at their own pace.

Instead of having recruiters stop doing their jobs to receive IT training, our platform immerses them in an ecosystem of experiential learning that will elevate their technical insight by osmosis. It is not enough to offer IT training outside of their jobs that has to be recalled later. Recruiters need access to training content that helps them do their jobs better in real time.

There is no other platform in existence that comes close to this level of enablement for IT Recruiters.

The training content has been embedded into the technical interview platform so users can access it at any point they are doing their jobs, however it does require the user to stop doing their jobs to review the lessons. That is when we had an epiphany: Some portion of the Training material must be positioned to be leveraged as users are executing their core jobs.

We have extracted select slides from each of the 10 technical modules — Application Architecture, Networking, Databases, QA, DevOps, The Cloud, REST & Web Services, Big Data, the Internet of Things and Cybersecurity — so they can be used to ask technical qualification questions.

If you are interviewing a Business Analyst, ask them to name the 4 primary commands of the Data Manipulation Language embedded inside the Structured Query Language. If you are interviewing a software architect, ask them to walk you through the pros and cons of following the Microservices Design approach. If you are working on a DevOps position, ask all of your candidates to describe the different KPIs they track in their environments. If you are screening a database engineer, ask them to explain ACID Properties and how they work.

We have finally figured out the ideal way to provide detailed technical training to help recruiters and staffing sales people perform their jobs more effectively. We have defined a methodology called Dynamic Engagement, which has 4 primary pillars:

  1. Take advanced technical content and vastly simplify it so it can be easily grasped by a non-technical person.
  2. Serve it in such tiny slices it can be instantly internalized for future use.
  3. Deliver it in real-time, as someone is performing their core job.
  4. Remove the need to commit any of the content to rote memorization.

Each of the slides are narrated and I explain the point of the question and what to look for in an answer. I did my first technical interview in 1997, so our users will be getting the insight of someone who has been doing technical screens for 25 years. This is the closest thing to having me stand over the shoulder of a user on what to ask and expect.

Using simplified technical training content to qualify talent will be the easiest pathway to achieve something we call “Conversational Competence”. Think about some subject about which you have advanced insight. If someone asked me a question about baseball like, “Name all of the ways a batter can reach first base,” I would rattle them off as easily as if I was counting to 10. Achieving Conversational Competence will become an industry standard with the consistent use of our knockout questions to screen talent.

By the repeated use of the slides as knockout questions, users will start owning the information on them. They will start asking developers to explain the difference between a Library and a Framework and they will picture the puzzle piece icons that show the code base sitting on top of 2 libraries contrasting with the image of a framework object sitting on top of a code base. The developer is in charge when it comes to using a Library, but the Framework owns your code. Conversational Competence is the Pavlovian use of technical knowledge in real time because it is knowledge they don’t just understand; it is information they own.

This solution permanently addresses the problem of IT recruiters struggling with technical topics. We have turned technical qualification into flash cards that come with narration.

Our new website describes a new hiring metric that measures the impact of ineffective hiring called The Open Seat Index, which calculates the productivity opportunity cost of empty seats. If recruiters could more expeditiously screen IT candidates on their own, it is a near certainty that a company will dramatically reduce their time to fill for IT roles. Our OSI calculator tells you how much money your firm can save.

Technical recruiters have gotten bashed by technologists for something that is not their fault: The technologists have done nothing to help recruiters understand technical subjects with greater facility, so TechScreen is stepping into the vacuum. We want to create an entire generation of IT recruiters who can independently screen an IT candidate without needing a script or a slide. The journey is afoot.

Mark Knowlton is the CEO & Founder of TechScreen

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