Preparing for an IT Employee’s Departure

April 1st, 2016

Like it or not, employees have lives outside the office. Eventually, their lives will pull them away from the office—whether to focus on family or because their career ambitions can’t be achieved with their current employer. So every business needs a plan for coping with employee resignations. Some parts of the process are common whatever the employee’s responsibilities, but there are also some steps specific to IT workers.

Finalize the logistics of the employee’s resignation. Agree on the employee’s last day of work. Two weeks is traditional and still standard, but some departing employees may have the flexibility to offer you a longer notice period if their project is at a critical point. Agree on who will announce the departure to the rest of the team; the way the news is shared can impact the morale of the employees who remain.

Plan to transition work. Identify everything the employee is working on. This can include work assigned and tracked in tools like JIRA, but almost every employee has informal responsibilities that aren’t tracked in project management tools. Decide which tasks will be completed before their last day of work and which need to be handed off to other employees. Make sure employees are cross-trained.

Gather all development artifacts. Be sure you get all work in progress from the departing employee so their efforts aren’t lost. This can mean having them check in code even if it isn’t complete; you can consider creating a new branch in your version control system so it doesn’t impact builds that pull code from the trunk.

Start looking for their replacement. Take time to think about what you want in a replacement employee. You might not simply want a replacement; you might want a person who brings a different skill set to the team or use the headcount for a different purpose. Tailor the job description so it accurately describes the responsibilities and skills of the new position.

Be sure to speak to the departing employee throughout their last two weeks. It’s almost certain you’ll have missed something during the initial planning. By checking in regularly you can make sure you find out about those items and get them handled. With good communication, you won’t discover a gap in your transition plan the day after the departing employee’s last day at work.

Working with a staffing agency can reduce the time it takes to find a replacement employee and reduce the impact after someone’s departure. InReach IT Solutions has more than 20 years’ experience helping companies find the staff they need. Contact us to learn how we can help you fill your open positions, whether you need to replace an employee who resigned or you’ve expanded headcount due to company growth.

Questions to Help You Understand a Candidate’s Employment History

February 5th, 2016

A resume presents a picture of a candidate’s job history, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Candidates present their work in the best possible light, and may mention projects and technologies where they had little involvement. Resumes that aren’t organized chronologically can make it difficult to see the progression of the candidate’s career. Because of these issues, it’s important to ask good questions during an interview to get a deeper understanding of the candidate’s work history. These questions will help:

Walk me through your positions and how your career has developed.

This question gives the candidate a chance to clarify the sequence of their jobs and explain how they’ve developed new skills through each new job.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

This question lets candidates tell you what they are best at. The technologies they mention are likely to be the ones they’re most skilled at; follow-up questions can help confirm that.

Why is there a gap between jobs?

As long as the answer isn’t that the candidate was in prison, the most important factor is that the candidate seems to have a prepared response. Candidates should expect they’ll be questioned about gaps in their resume, so if they stumble over an answer, it indicates a lack of preparation that might extend to their performance on the job.

Why are you leaving your current position?

This question will help you understand what the candidate doesn’t like about what they are currently doing and whether they will be happy with the work you have available. Don’t settle for boilerplate answers like “it isn’t challenging”; ask the follow-up question to find out why it isn’t challenging and what kind of challenge they hope to find in a new position.

Tell me about how you used technology X on project Y.

Questions like this let you probe whether a candidate really has experience in the technologies and business domains they claim, or whether they’re simply throwing buzzwords onto their resume. It’s appropriate to ask more detailed technical questions in the areas they claim expertise.

When you work with a staffing agency, candidates are prescreened to make sure they have a solid employment history. Contact the experienced IT recruiting team at InReach IT Solutions to learn how our screening process ensures we send you the best candidates to fill your open positions.

Are You Conducting Post-Interview Reviews?

January 29th, 2016

The hiring process often involves multiple interviewers talking to multiple interviewees. With that many candidates and resumes being passed around, it’s easy to lose track of who said what, who left a positive impression, and who left a negative impression. If you don’t have a process to pull together everyone’s input, the final hiring decision may be made based on fading memories. An effective post-interview review process ensures that information is shared and documented so you can refer to it once you’re ready to make a final decision.

Get Input from Everyone Who Spoke to the Candidate

If you have people meet with the candidate but don’t get their thoughts, that meeting was a waste of time. Solicit opinions from everyone who spent time with them, even if they only took them to lunch. Let junior staffers speak first to make sure they aren’t pressured to conform to their boss’s opinions.

Talk About Details

Go beyond gut feelings to discuss the specific ways the candidate left both positive and negative impressions. It’s important to identify whether there were any discrepancies in how the candidate presented themselves to the multiple interviewers. If anyone has specific concerns about the candidate, they should be shared with the group.

Keep Track of Candidates in a Standard Way

Use a consistent set of criteria so all interviewees are evaluated on the same metrics. Make sure the criteria are relevant to the position, and don’t have so many that providing ratings becomes a chore. You can assign a score to each category and also come up with an overall ranking of the interviewees. This will help you decide who to extend an offer to and how to proceed if they turn you down.

Don’t Wait Too Long to Schedule the Review

You don’t have to have a review meeting after each interview—it’s fine to discuss more than one candidate—but if you’re bringing in a series of candidates over a series of weeks, you should have a meeting every week or two to make sure candidates are discussed while you still remember them.

Working with a staffing agency can help bring in better candidates, and simplify and streamline your interview and post-interview process. InReach IT Solutions will work with you to understand the skills your open positions require and provide strong potential hires for your consideration. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you solve your staffing problems.

The Difference Between Leaders and Managers

January 8th, 2016

Once technical workers move out of the individual contributor role, where the main responsibility is to work hands-on with the technology, the technical career ladder offers leadership and management roles. Projects may have project leaders, technical leads, team leads, as well as project managers. Every company can define the job responsibilities differently, but there are similarities between all the “leadership” roles. The difference between a lead role and a manager role can be subtle, but it’s important to understand in order to identify the best worker for the position.

Project Leader Responsibilities

In technical projects, roles with “lead” titles usually aren’t fully hands-on but aren’t completely removed from the technical work either. Individuals in these positions know the details of the technology. They have a vision for how the project should be executed and how the product should develop over time. They make key decisions regarding choice of technology and the architecture and design of the system being built. The project leader usually assigns specific tasks to other members of the team and oversees their work, but doesn’t have the administrative responsibility for performance reviews. Project leaders are responsible for identifying when a project is in trouble and reporting problems to the project manager; while they can propose solutions, the project manager is usually the one with the responsibility of speaking with customers to reach a resolution.

Project Manager Responsibilities

Project managers have overall responsibility for a project that extends beyond the technical details. They work closely with the business to make sure the functionality being built will meet business needs. They make sure the project is staffed appropriately and the budget for tools, training, and other needs is spent wisely. Their staffing responsibilities include performance reviews and making hiring and firing decisions. When there are issues that affect the ability to deliver on schedule, they coordinate with the business to make sure a change in scope, budget, or delivery date is acceptable. While the project leader works with the quality assurance team to address quality issues, the project manager will typically make the decision of whether the quality is acceptable for shipping the product or not.

Whether you’re hiring a leader or a manager, working with a staffing agency like InReach IT Solutions can speed the hiring process. Our experience lets us screen candidates to make sure their skills fit the position. Contact us to learn how we can help you find the right people to fill your open jobs.

How to Determine Candidate Reliability During an Interview

November 27th, 2015

There’s a quote that says 90 percent of success is showing up. While that’s not exactly the result of scientific study, there’s no question that your projects won’t succeed if your employees don’t show up to work on them. It’s important that your interviews probe candidates for their reliability and their internal motivation and commitment to getting the job done. Try asking these questions:

  • What motivates you at work? Not every employee will be introspective enough to know their real motivations, but you want to hear answers other than jokes about “a paycheck.” It’s important to check whether what motivates the candidate matches the position they’re interviewing for. Someone who expresses the desire to learn new technology may not be well suited for a company that is a late adopter; someone who enjoys helping people may not be right for a position that’s more about the technology than the users.
  • What workplace was most satisfying to you? When a candidate’s had more than one job, you can find out what they liked or didn’t like at the different places they’ve worked. If the ones that they liked most are similar to your environment, they may be a good fit.
  • Why do you want this job? The first question talks about the candidate’s motivation in general; this one talks about the specific opportunity and lets the candidate describe how it suits them. If the candidate sounds genuinely enthusiastic about the position, if they sound excited about the opportunity, there’s a good chance they are eager to tackle the work.
  • How do you see your career developing? If the candidate’s chosen career path is simply not feasible at your business, you shouldn’t expect the candidate to stick around too long. This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not right for the current position, but once the candidate’s developed the skills they need for the next step on their ladder, they’ll move on.

You don’t have to rely solely on your assessment, either. Ask the candidate’s references how they rate their reliability and motivation. They should be able to give you specific examples that help you judge whether the candidate would work well within your environment.
A staffing agency can also help you find reliable candidates. They’ll have pre-screened potential employees and can make sure you only spend time interviewing candidates who’ll fit well with your organization. Contact InReach IT Solutions for help finding reliable employees who’ll show up and get the job done.