S2E9: Hunting Purple Unicorns - IT Recruitment with Michelle Nash

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This is a podcast episode titled, S2E9: Hunting Purple Unicorns - IT Recruitment with Michelle Nash. The summary for this episode is: <p>Every recruiter dreams of finding that elusive Purple Unicorn. In this week’s episode of ASCII Anything, we talk to Michelle Nash, Moser Consulting’s Resource Manager, about candidates, culture fit, interviews, and getting hired.</p>

Angel Leon: Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of ASCII Anything presented by Moser Consulting. I'm your host, Angel Leon, Moser's HR advisor. In this week's episode, we'll be talking about recruiting in IT. Tech jobs are growing at their fastest rate in nearly a decade. Just to give you an idea. In 2021, 108,000 new tech positions will be created. In addition to anywhere from 700,000 to a million tech jobs that are currently available based on data from previous years. That's a lot of open positions in an ever- growing industry. So with that in mind, I brought in one of my colleagues at Moser to talk about recruiting in IT. Where do you go to get hired in IT? How do you get started in this career? What does the process to get hired in IT look like? All of these questions and much more will be answered here today on ASCII Anything. With me today is Michelle Nash, Moser Consulting's resource manager, the position she's held for the last seven years. Prior to this role, Michelle had experienced within the areas of recruiting, strategic staffing, human resources, and account management within information technology consulting environments. Michelle, it's a pleasure to have you with me on ASCII Anything to talk about one of the hardest things to do in HR. I used to do it in a previous life, but I had a wide net to cast when I recruited. We, on the other hand, have to be very specific in what we look for, and that can bring in a lot of challenges. Before we get into all that. How are you?

Michelle Nash: I'm great. Thanks for having me.

Angel Leon: Absolutely. Thank you very much for being again. So let's start with the basics, as we often do here on ASCII Anything. Let's start with the resume. How do you tailor your resume for a tech job?

Michelle Nash: With a tech job, like any other position, I think it's really important to have a strong summary or overview that can easily highlight your experience and what your value is or what your value to an organization would be. This is just as if not more important, than just listing your specific technical skills.

Angel Leon: Right, so you basically want to make sure that you're tailoring that resume to the position that you're applying for, correct?

Michelle Nash: Absolutely. Yes. You definitely want to have as much insight as possible into the role or position you're applying for. So you can easily highlight those specific experiences within your resume. And this is especially important if you have a lot of diversity in the roles that you've played over your career.

Angel Leon: Yes. And on top of that, you also want to do research on the company that you're applying for, obviously the industry. So obviously we're talking about IT, but if I'm applying to XYZ company and then W company over here has the same job, but their culture might be a little bit different, that might also impact how you get your resume ready for that.

Michelle Nash: Yeah, absolutely. It's very important. It's essential to do your research when you're interviewing with a company. To be successful and standing out against other applicants, you'll need to really understand what the company is all about. For example, their background, their mission, their area of expertise and growth areas, and specifically be able to talk about how you would align well with them and what value you could provide that organization.

Angel Leon: Yes. And with the current job market, there's a lot of competition going on in the tech industry specifically, and candidates are really struggling with it. So how do you suggest people stand out so that they can, in the end, get hired?

Michelle Nash: Back to the research with the company and having a great resume that gives a strong overview of your experience and how specifically that would align with the company that you're interviewing with and the role that you're interviewing for. Make sure to do that, and also make sure to be ready with a list of questions, you want to interview that company as much as they're interviewing you. So the more you know about them in that role, even if you get on LinkedIn and network, go on the company social media pages, perhaps, just find out as much as you can about their culture and what they're about to number one, make sure you want to apply for that position, with that company, and then be able to speak to your specific experience and how it aligns to that role.

Angel Leon: Yeah, that's great advice. That was one of the things that I always told my new hire candidates or people that were interested in, or asked me questions about how to get hired is number one, make sure you have a set of questions that you want to ask those interviewers, because like you mentioned, you want to be noticed and a way for people to stand out is to make sure that A, as you mentioned, do your research and then make sure that when you write those questions and you ask them during the interview process, they have meaning for the individuals who are interviewing you. What would you say is a best practice for a tech job interview?

Michelle Nash: Review your resume and your experience as you're writing your resume, go back and make sure, it sounds funny, but really understand all that you've done because I think once you've been in a role, especially if you haven't interviewed for a long time, you may think you know how to articulate that experience. But if you haven't done it for a while, you can become rusty and really forget all that you actually have to offer. So go back, review the resume, be ready to speak in detail about each area of expertise that you have and be able to articulate what your specific role was in each position that you held and what value you provided the company that the companies that you've been with over the years. And also another thing, since technology is always evolving, take some time to assess your current skill levels and think of some areas of growth or training that you'd like to pursue and how that might be relevant to the role that you're interviewing for. Then this shows really to that employer, that you've got a growth mindset and you're forward- thinking.

Angel Leon: Interesting that you mentioned at the early onset of your answer, that you might want to practice your interviewing skills. You might want to read through your resume and make sure that your data points on your resume mirror what you're going to say, because you want to make sure that you're for the position that you're talking about, that your skills reflect themselves in that position. Right? But that you also get, like you mentioned, get that little rust off your shoulder so that you can speak to it, right?

Michelle Nash: Yeah, absolutely. I've been asked before, even family members about what you do and you think about it, you go, I do these things every day, but to really have it on your lips to articulate all that you do, isn't second nature if you're a little out of practice. So definitely do that and jot things down so you're ready to speak to key accomplishments and then have questions too, for that employer when it comes time to ask and really get a chance to interview those. Because in the interview process, you can get nervous and maybe forget your focus or what you're wanting to ask. So definitely writing those things down is key to being successful in that process.

Angel Leon: Absolutely. You just reminded me of another tip that I used to give candidates or people who are asking me about interviews in general. And that is if you can, if you have the ability to, if it's in person, I know nowadays it's a little bit tricky with COVID, but if it's in person, take a note pad, take something to write with because they might ask you a question, a multiple part question, let's say, and you want to make sure that you're writing down information that you might want to tap on later. So take a note pad so that you can write stuff down or take a note pad so that you can write stuff down to ask later, because maybe that came to you during one of the sessions where they're asking you questions. So very, very good advice. Michelle, moving to the other side of the coin from an organizational standpoint, what can you tell us about our own interview process here at Moser? What's that like?

Michelle Nash: So our interview process is comprised of several stages, just to ensure that we get a complete picture of the candidate and we give the candidate a complete picture of Moser. All candidates come through an initial screening process with recruiting, that's both cultural and technical at some level in the beginning. And then we also move our candidates through a benchmark assessment, which basically, it shows us how they might align with other people who hold similar roles within the organization, just to see, Hey, do they match up to our top people in those areas. And that gives us a good thing to go on, to move to the next process with a technical interview. And then, that's with the appropriate teams. And then we have a final meeting generally with the appropriate director or VP. So we hit everything across the board from cultural to technical and to that benchmark that we've used, that's been really successful in helping us identify key candidates that would be successful in the roles they're applying for.

Angel Leon: Yeah. And I've seen that play out completely. Obviously, I went through that some time ago and I see it in the people that we hire every day when we have new hires onboard within our company. It is fascinating to see the amount of people who you can tell, they're going to be right away, a great part of our culture because basically culture, as I see it, is king when it comes to organizations. And that seems to be the key factor in our hiring. We can teach someone the skills, but when it comes again to culture and fit that's king, correct?

Michelle Nash: Absolutely. Absolutely. And by the way, you were a great hire on house.

Angel Leon: Thank you.

Michelle Nash: Everything seems to be going great. Yeah. The culture fit, with technology, it's tricky because a lot of times you'll see a resume and this person may look like perfect, whatever we're looking for. Right. But you want to have that piece too, but you can take a maybe a B person on the technology side, because you can always train and evolve them into maybe a little better technician, but the culture fit's key and it's absolutely essential. And assuring that we bring the right person onboard to each team. We need to make sure we have a strong match of the skills obviously, but more importantly, in terms of personality and career aspirations, we need to understand those as well, to make sure that we put the individuals and those potential new employees in the right position. And also that our existing teams also succeed and continue to thrive when we bring new people into the mix.

Angel Leon: Yeah. And part of that also, which we didn't mention is a great training program. We have that here at Moser and that allows us to take someone who might be a great cultural fit, but as you mentioned, might have those B- rated skills more or less, and then we can bring them along and basically through our training program, lift them up to that A status, right?

Michelle Nash: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Thanks for mentioning the training program, because we can do that from the technical standpoint and also soft skills. So we have lots of training that we encourage and when we know somebody coming on, where they may be falling a bit short, but we still think they're a great culture fit, we can get them into those training programs or types of things so they can continue to be set up for success when they come onboard.

Angel Leon: Yeah. It's a great way to develop your talent right away, because if they're a great cultural fit, then they're going to be an even better fit along the road, as long as we provide them with those training opportunities. So let me continue the discussion on employment in IT, because we had the stat in certain areas of IT, there's almost zero unemployment rate. And one of those areas that we hire and that we understand that we see that, that there's zero unemployment rate, it's like application development.

Michelle Nash: Mm- hmm(affirmative).

Angel Leon: How does that affect the hiring and recruitment process? Because there's, again, we go in with the theme about competition and there's lots of people out there trying to get hired, but in an application development that's different.

Michelle Nash: Yeah. So that is one area of huge growth right now within Moser. And again, we've got a great culture and a great story to sell, both as company as a whole and that business unit. And we always, always want to strive to handle every candidate with a personal touch, make sure the entire recruiting experience is engaging and that expectations are set and exceeded. Also that timely and transparent communications happen through each step of the process, as well as just driving those timely hiring decisions to ensure that not only are we able to attract the right candidates, but we can acquire those highly sought after candidates that are out being competed for, with other companies in our industry. And so we definitely want to strive for that for everybody, but specifically the timing and the engagement through the process with those highly sought after candidates is even more important right now.

Angel Leon: Yeah and those skills in application development are so valuable right now because think about it. Everybody wants to develop an application of some sort, whether that's for a phone, for a website, the multiple facets of application development have always interested me. And just knowing some of the guys that we have on our bench is phenomenal because you get to talk to them and they have so much to tell you about the different things that they're working on is so amazing.

Michelle Nash: Absolutely.

Angel Leon: So finally, how do we go about hiring those purple unicorn? Because they're out there, the purple unicorns are out there and we just need to find them, right. How do we go about hiring those?

Michelle Nash: Yeah. So speaking of that, I heard the purple unicorn, the purple squirrel over the years, and just those hard to find, highly sought after niche potential candidates. So, and that is right now in some of the areas within our data group and app dev. And it's very important to have a strong network that you can leverage when you're looking for these people, these hard to find skillsets and experiences. Most of these people that are highly sought after are not actively looking. They're not applying to job boards or responding to cold calls most likely. So you'll need to be able to leverage your network, to make warm, credible introductions for you. And hopefully also give you some good upfront insight into that potential candidates motivators. So you're able to connect with them on a meaningful level.

Angel Leon: Yeah. You have to be agile when it comes to that, because as you mentioned, a lot of those folks are not necessarily looking for jobs right now. So it's what you can bring to the table from a company standpoint, from a cultural standpoint, as we were talking about earlier, that might entice them to jump ship somewhere else.

Michelle Nash: Yeah, absolutely. The more you can know and the better relationship you can form from the get- go, that'll lock in that candidate to be engaged in and even if you don't hire them right now, or they go somewhere else, you can keep that relationship and keep them in a pipeline for future. So I can't stress enough that the purple unicorns, if you will, you definitely need to be able to work your network and have a strong network that can help lead you to those folks and make warm introductions for you.

Angel Leon: Yes, it's the purple unicorns everybody, just make sure you catch one. Of course, I will be remiss if I didn't mention that. If you're interested in joining Moser Consulting, please visit our website, moserit. com/ careers where you will find our current open positions. You can also find our job openings on sites like LinkedIn and Indeed. Michelle, it's been a pleasure speaking with you today. Thank you very much for joining me.

Michelle Nash: Yeah. Thanks so much. I appreciate it.

Angel Leon: Thank you for listening in to this week's edition of ASCII Anything presented by Moser Consulting. We hope you enjoy listening into our conversation about tech recruiting with Michelle Nash. Join us next week when we continue to dive deeper with our resident experts in what they're currently working on. Remember, if you have an idea or a topic you'd like us to explore, please reach out to us through our social media channels. In the meantime, please remember to give us a rating and subscribe to our feed wherever you get your podcasts. Until then, prepare your resume. So long everybody.


Every recruiter dreams of finding that elusive Purple Unicorn. In this week’s episode of ASCII Anything, we talk to Michelle Nash, Moser Consulting’s Resource Manager, about candidates, culture fit, interviews, and getting hired.