At Work: Finance and IT - IT intelligence

Robin Fisk on how to recruit the right IT staff to make your organisation stronger.

There was a time when, if you said you worked with computers, it would engender an image of a white-coated technician with thick-rimmed glasses and biros in his (not her) top pocket. Now people are beginning to realise that really effective IT staff can make or break an organisation and finding the right people is crucial.

First decision: to develop someone from within the current staff or recruit externally? It may be that someone in your organisation has shown a real aptitude for IT and could be developed into a dedicated IT role. You will already know their attitude and character, and they already know your organisation, which reduces the risks. But do you know how much more training and development they would need? It may be better to recruit the finished article from the outside world.

Second decision: to use an agency or go for the direct route? Good agencies will take time to understand your needs, translate them into an effective job description and deliver a selection of candidates that meet your needs.

Choose one that specialises in IT, because their knowledge of the market will be invaluable. Avoid those that simply send you everything they find in a keyword search - you will waste a lot of time considering unsuitable candidates. If you place a job ad, be aware that you may have to re-run the advert several times and kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. This can make it more expensive than the agency route.

Ask your candidates to sit a technical test. In an industry where there is still no uniform way of measuring competence, CVs can be works of fiction.

A test reveals a person's competence in key areas, and their attitude.

Lastly, avoid empire-builders, poor listeners and people without a sense of why IT should serve your organisation, rather than vice versa.

- Robin Fisk is managing director of software company Fisk Brett.

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