What Your Peers are Saying about Dice

Watch as customers share their successes using Dice to meet their unique technology recruiting challenges. These are real-world examples of how employers and recruiters use Dice to fill their openings quickly and efficiently.

Dice offers powerful recruitment solutions to help you source the highly skilled technology professionals you need.
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Making Weak Job Postings Say “Wow”

By Jenifer Lambert

Three tactics that will make candidates take notice, and take action

With the economy showing healthy signs of recovery and IT hiring steadily increasing, it’s time for HR professionals and recruiters to rethink their methods for attracting top talent. Most put too little thought into their job postings and the results show it. Consider this—one IT professional said, “Half of the job postings I see don’t make any sense. It’s obvious that the recruiter just wants to get some bodies through. I won’t respond to those.”

Job postings are to the IT recruitment process what a powerful Super Bowl ad is to marketing a product. A well-crafted job posting creates buzz and causes great candidates to not just take notice but to take action and respond. Your goal is three-fold when writing a job posting: attract the right fit (including passive candidates), strengthen the brand of the company as an “employer of choice,” and “make them bite.”

Apply the following three key tactics to create job postings that work.

1. Speak like a native

In speaking with IT professionals, the most common complaint about job postings was that it appeared the person who wrote the posting knew nothing about the actual job. A Senior User Interface Engineer said, “I assume the same person who wrote the job posting is the same person who is going to screen my resume. If that recruiter doesn’t really understand the job, it’s going to be a nightmare going forward. Unless the company is one I know I’d want to work for or the pay is really high, I’m not going to bother.” Here was the advice from candidates:

Only include technologies that I’m really going to use. If the laundry list includes old and new technology or competing technologies, I assume that either you don’t know what you’re talking about or the job isn’t important enough to the company to take time to write a quality posting. Example: ASP. net, C#, SQL make sense (companies generally work with one technology stack—these are all compatible). ASP.net, PHP, Oracle, MS SQL Server don’t (unless this is a consulting firm where you’ll be working with multiple companies using various technologies).

Tell me what I will really be doing. I want to know more about the projects I’ll be working on, how the organization works, the pace of the dev cycles, etc.

2. Rack up cool points

A quick scan of IT job postings reveals a surprising lack of anything resembling selling the company or, just as bad, meaningless buzz words in an attempt to make the opportunity sound cool. Strong job postings will give the candidate some sense of your company culture and get them to visualize working there. In an effort to be brief, you may be diluting the secret sauce that makes your company special. Candidates want to know more than just what technical skills are required. They want to know that this company is a place where they can do their best work, make a contribution and fit in.

A word of caution: The way you describe your company can have a push/pull effect so make sure that the words you choose are magnetizing the people you mean to attract and only repelling those who would not fit. If you’re not careful, you could turn off candidates you’d like to hire. As one Solutions Architect explained, “I’m a father to three kids under the age of five. If a company talks a lot about happy hour keg parties and video game tournaments, it’s probably not the right place for me. I want to do good work, make great money and go home and play with my kids, not my co-workers.”

3. It’s all about the technology candidate

The problem with too many job postings is that they are written from the company’s point-of-view and not the candidate’s perspective. For example, if the posting starts with “Company X is looking for…” or “Candidate must have the following skills…” you’ve already turned off top candidates. Instead talk about what you have to offer.

Remember the best candidates have options and, more often than not, one of them is to stay in the job they already have. If you want to convince them to take a risk and leave the security of the known, you need to show them clearly how they will be better off in this new role. The only candidates who are attracted to “company-centric” postings are candidates who are unemployed and less discerning about where they apply.

The good news is that IT candidates don’t expect you to know everything about the job, but when you don’t take time to write a job posting that makes sense to them, they feel disrespected or just plain disinterested. Enlist the hiring manager to assist you in developing technical specs that make sense. Run any posting by the hiring manager and/or people actually doing the job to make sure that your posting resonates with them and will attract the candidates you want. Your value as an HR professional or recruiter comes from your ability to deliver talent, not in bluffing your way through a job description.

About the Author

Jenifer Lambert is a VP with Terra Staffing Group, a Pinnacle Society recognized Executive Recruiter, and President of Elevate Performance Systems, LLC, a consulting and training firm that helps third-party recruiters grow their business. www.ElevatePerformanceSystems.com

Recruiters: Five ‘Must Know’ Things for Placing Candidates

By Jenifer Lambert

To know me is to close me.

It’s often said that the number one job of any recruiter is to source high-quality candidates sufficient to meet business demands. While it’s hard to argue that it’s not important to source top talent, all that sleuthing and talent scouting doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t land the candidate you want. In an informal survey, hiring managers named the recruiter’s inability to onboard the candidate the hiring manager wanted as one of their top five frustrations in working with recruiters.

Sourcing and identifying a candidate and then failing to get them to come on board is akin to putting a juicy steak in front of a hungry dog and then tossing
it in the trash. Your “hot candidate” has only whetted the hiring manager’s appetite and then left her unfulfilled. It’s disappointing, a waste of time and completely unnecessary.

Kim Knoll

“It’s really important for hiring managers to understand that there’s competition in the market for good candidates, says Kim Knoll, IT recruiter with Executive Resources in Des Moines. “We’re getting back to a candidate-driven market in some skill sets and the best candidates always have choices. If I think there may be challenges closing a candidate, I let the hiring manager know early.”

Most recruiters put more care into assessing the candidate’s qualifications than they do in evaluating the candidate’s seriousness and willingness to make a change. The result is rejected offers and unnecessary disappointment.

“I make sure the candidate truly prefers the position my client is offering throughout the process,” says Kim Downey, President of Downey & Associates, a national search firm specializing in IT and executive talent. “It is better to find a new A-player that is 100% committed to making a change versus having an offer declined.”

1. Money aside

The weakest motivation for changing jobs is money. Worse, if it is your candidate’s primary pain with their current job, it’s the easiest problem for his current boss to solve. When that top software developer goes to give his resignation and tells his boss the only reason he’s leaving is an increase in pay, don’t be surprised when the counteroffer submarines the “lucrative” offer you just extended.

The key question to ask any candidate is “why make a job change now?” Weak recruiters are too afraid to ask this question. Top recruiters know the answer to this question will tell you everything you need to know to close a candidate. Most candidates will start by telling you their motivation to change is money because it’s the easiest and most politically correct answer. It’s nicer to say, “I’d like to make more money” than “my boss is a micro- managing idiot.” Your job is to keep drilling until the real reason is surfaced. Get past the “I’d like to make more money” response by saying something like, “Of course everyone wants to make more money. What else do you hope to accomplish by making a change?”

2. Cost of change

So now that we’ve just argued that money is the weakest reason for making a job change, the reality is that no candidate wants to lose money in the process of making a change. That seems fairly obvious, but too often we focus so much attention on convincing the candidate of what they have to gain by switching teams that we don’t help them honestly assess what they stand to lose. For example, successful salespeople will always have commissions pending. Stock options have vesting schedules. Bonuses get paid at specific intervals. The best candidates will be walking away from something by making a change.

“A lack of insight into a candidate’s current comp program can burn you big time,” explains Boris Epstein, Managing Partner of BINC, a tech recruiting company based in Silicon Valley. “It doesn’t matter how much the candidate wants the job. If they’re tied down with some major golden handcuffs, you’re not going to get them to move. I bring this up early and make the candidate calculate what a move will cost him before we move forward.”

Find out early in the process and address that concern head on. If the candidate is sufficiently motivated, he may be willing to walk away from that bonus. If not, perhaps a start date can be delayed until the bonus is paid or a signing bonus could make up the difference. The key is to find this out early so both the employer and the candidate can proceed with eyes wide open. This also goes a long way toward building trust with the applicant. Your willingness to bring up what could be perceived as “bad news” shows that you’re looking out for everyone’s best interests and not just looking to put together a deal.

3. The “cabinet of concern”

Just like the President of the United States has a cabinet of advisors, your candidate has people in her life who are sure to have opinions about her potential job change. As a recruiter, you need to know who these people are and what their concerns might be. Unless your candidate is single with no family or friends, someone will be affected. Of course, there are liability concerns about asking questions related to a candidate’s marital status or family situation. A simple question will open the door: “Who have you told that you’re considering making a job change?” If the answer is “no one,” you should be very concerned about this candidate’s seriousness. It’s illogical for someone who is contemplating something as significant as a job change to not tell anyone. She is either stonewalling you or is not serious. Most often when you ask that question, the response will be something like, “Of course I’ve talked about this with my spouse.” Once the candidate has volunteered that information, you can ask how the spouse is feeling about the possibility of a change and what concerns he might have.

4. Beware the boss

There’s a saying that people don’t quit companies, they quit their bosses. The relationship with the boss is one of the most significant factors in an employee’s satisfaction with her job so it’s important to know early if breaking up with the boss will be hard to do.

When reviewing the candidate’s work history, ask her who she reports to currently. “And how’s your relationship with him?” If the relationship is bad or neutral (which is politically correct for bad), consider this one more check in the motivation for leaving column. On the other hand, if she loves her boss, you could have potential closing problems. Address this head on by asking if she’s truly prepared to walk into this person’s office and give notice. Her response will be telling. Don’t move forward unless you are convinced that her desire to make a change is greater than her relationship with her boss.

“It’s so important to know what’s going on interpersonally with the employee and their current boss,” says Jason Radach, President of Vital Source, a Seattle-based software and IT recruiting firm. “If the candidate has a good relationship with their boss, I ask if her boss knows she’s looking. If she hasn’t told the boss, I take that as a bad sign and then drill deeper to see how she thinks the boss will react when she resigns. I want her to try that on emotionally before we get to the end of the process.”

5. Legal landmines

This seems so obvious, but it’s so often missed. Be sure you are crystal clear on any legal obligations that the candidate has to her current employer. Does she have a non-compete? Has she signed a non-disclosure agreement or any other restrictive covenant? If the answer is yes, you should request a copy of the agreement before you proceed. Have your legal counsel review the document or, if you’re a third-party recruiter, share a copy of the agreement with your client so they can make an informed decision about proceeding with this candidate.

Depending on the jurisdiction and the details of the agreement, it still may be possible to hire this candidate, but it could affect the way the offer is structured or the candidate may need to request a release from the agreement before an offer can be made.

Regardless of what position you’re recruiting for, one of the essential qualifications of any job is a candidate’s ability and willingness to make a job change. Get beyond questions about technical competence and make sure you are assessing the candidate’s seriousness. This will prevent you from suffering serious disappointment when you extend the offer.

About the Author

Jenifer Lambert is a VP with Terra Staffing Group, a Pinnacle Society recognized Executive Recruiter, and President of Elevate Performance Systems, LLC, a consulting and training firm that helps third-party recruiters grow their business. www.ElevatePerformanceSystems.com

Three Steps to a New and More Effective Interview

By Megan Fleming

Off-the-wall interview questions, lengthy printed job descriptions and rounds of repetitive interviews are a very 1989 — or even 2003 — way of recruiting. Gerry Crispin, Principal of CareerXroads, says it’s high time for a change. “For many years we’ve had a pretty bad approach in general to recruiting and we continue to have a bad approach.” He says that advances in technology, particularly social media, are only adding to the problem and make it easier for companies to make the same mistakes — and make them faster.

Gerry CrispinCrispin is uniquely positioned to comment on companies’ hiring processes since he hears about them constantly at CareerXroads. His organization creates a platform for staffing leaders to have intimate conversations about the best and worst practices in hiring.

Crispin suggests that updated interview strategies will yield better results for employers and job seekers alike. These three steps are central to any new interview process:

1. Add simulations

Is the candidate right for the job? Is the job right for the candidate? Companies are using faster and more realistic testing tools that allow job seekers to pit themselves against the actual challenges of the job. “Today you can create a simulation that has a very low cost-per-use,” explains Crispin. “A job seeker can intimately embed themselves in a simulation of how a job operates and what it’s all about. This helps them make a better decision about whether they’re a fit for the job.”

Many companies with high volume needs are investing in actual simulations. Other firms with fewer positions rely on cost-effective, job-shadowing videos to provide a realistic preview of what it’s like to work at a company. “Video is not that interactive,” comments Crispin. “But it’s still a simulation of what a job is like and is a significant step-up over a paragraph-by-paragraph description of what you need to be part of a company.”

Simulations even have a place in technical fields, especially for positions that require project management skills. A “hack day” is an effective type of simulation for IT and engineering professionals. During hack days companies give professionals challenges, such as use their hacking skills to produce code or generate a technical resolution within a certain timeframe. The process would be a good self-test tool for prospects as well.

The HR Black Hole: Five Ways You Can Fix It

How savvy tech professionals are avoiding the “HR black hole” and what HR managers can do to prepare their teams for the new world order.

By John Vlastelica

Dice surveyed more than 300 technology professionals to find out how they avoid the HR black hole. While 46% said it can’t be done, 41% said they leverage web searches and social networking sites to bypass the normal HR process and apply directly to recruiters and hiring managers. Is this a blessing or a curse to HR teams? And how can recruiting leaders adapt to this new approach?

There’s always been an HR black hole. Many candidates – not just tech candidates – regularly say that when they apply online or participate in an interview, they never hear back. They don’t even receive a simple email acknowledgment. So it’s no surprise that tech-savvy IT candidates are finding ways to apply directly. Social networking sites, blogs and even career sites are making it easier to do so. In fact, many companies are now encouraging candidates to apply this way. (An example is how Microsoft lists its actual recruiter names on its career site, with links to their online social profiles, for its gaming, hardware and software businesses. View Microsoft’s career site. Find out if the job boards you are using allow recruiters to create personal profiles on their site.)

Is this a bad thing? No. In fact, if your goal is to attract the best and brightest active and passive candidates, then you should make yourself as accessible and easy to find to tech candidates as possible. You should encourage your employees and hiring managers to create connections and a web presence that makes it easier – not harder – for people to be referred to your company. However, you need to groom them to handle the process.

Have you prepared your hiring managers? The problem lies in the “HR” black hole no longer being just HR’s black hole, because it can expand to suck in tech candidates who apply directly through hiring managers, too. This happens when hiring managers aren’t prepared for direct contact.  When this happens, these very valuable, interested and often passive tech candidates get lost in the recruiting process. In these situations, managers often forward an email without a resume to a recruiter, hoping the recruiter will reply. Or, managers respond to a passive candidate via LinkedIn with a “please check out our careers site… I’m not sure what tech openings we have now” message. Tweets and questions on blogs can go unanswered. The HR black hole has extended its reach and now encompasses your entire candidate universe. Now what?

Five things you can do to plug the black hole.

  1. Get your hiring managers and employees invested in recruitment. Reward those with a strong online presence and help them understand the candidate attraction power they possess. Then remind them, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The way they respond – or the fact that they don’t respond – shapes your employer brand, one interaction at a time.
  2. Arm your hiring managers and employees with tools to be successful. Ask them what kind of tools and templates you can offer to help them. At a minimum, they’ll probably want to know more about:
    • The recruiting process (i.e. how to refer someone into the candidate pipelines when they haven’t applied via the normal process/career site)
    • The employee value proposition (i.e. what they may want to highlight when asked – publicly – why people like working at your company)
    • Standard applicant responses (i.e. what expectations should be set with people who want to apply for jobs)
  3. Create a better auto-reply email for applicants. Many employers use boilerplate auto-replies from their applicant tracking system, such as “thanks for your application…we’ll keep your resume on file and contact you if an opening arises.” These are better than no reply at all, but wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could send an email letting all applicants know your timeline, too? For example: “The hiring manager will decide who to interview by this Friday. If you’re not selected, you may be considered for other similar openings in our technology department in the future. If you are selected, you will receive a separate email from us with information on our interview process by next Tuesday.” While this takes some work, it is a powerful way to plug the HR black hole.
  4. Personally contact anyone who interviews. At a minimum, anyone who had a live phone screen should receive a personalized email that lets them know that they were not selected. A phone call is better, but probably not realistic for most HR teams. But busy, savvy recruiters often still make time to call some candidates. If the candidate was an employee referral or came through a social network connection, a personal phone call might be smart and necessary. And almost all recruiters agree that anyone that invests time in an onsite interview deserves a personal phone call.
  5. Measure it. Use a cheap tool like SurveyMonkey.com to survey your applicants (start with referrals if you don’t want to ask all applicants). Embed your standard in the questions you ask. For example: “Our goal is to provide all applicants with feedback at the phone interview selection stage, the post-phone interview stage, and the post-interview stage.” Then ask the applicants what kind of communication – if any – they received at each of those phases. This will help you identify the leaks in your process and improve your communication.

As candidates find more resourceful ways to apply for jobs, there are more chances for a potentially valuable person to slip through the cracks. But for companies looking to attract to top-quality professionals, making an effort to plug the HR black hole can reap great rewards.

Three Trends Impacting Tech Hiring Right Now

A snapshot of the current technology and engineering hiring market reveals several major trends that are creating a challenging landscape for employers and recruiters. Economic factors, changing candidate behaviors and increasing social media usage have converged to reshape the way recruiters and HR staff connect with tech candidates.

Jason Warner“There’s a bit of a perfect storm that has happened as a result of all the trends that have played out in the last few years,” says Jason Warner, a principal at Recruiting Toolbox, a Seattle-based talent acquisition and management consulting company. Warner and his team help organizations refine their recruiting efforts and achieve the best results from their hiring processes.

Warner advises companies to build an integrated sourcing strategy that capitalizes on positive trends and reduces the negative effects of other trends. Here are three key trends and ideas for addressing them:

1. Immobile talent pool

Roughly 25% of American homeowners are underwater with their mortgages due to the housing bubble. Because of this, many excellent tech candidates who are willing to move for a new job or relocate to a more active hiring market, simply cannot because they are unable to sell their homes.

Adding to the problem is the fact that with tight budgets, many companies can’t pay relocation costs or buy people out of their homes. “If people can’t sell their homes, then those people are no longer viable candidates,” says Warner.

One way to overcome the challenge of an immobile talent pool is to focus your efforts and resources on finding local candidates who don’t require relocation. “Companies could pay more for local candidates in terms of salary and sign on bonuses and still come out ahead compared to what it would cost to get someone to move,” says Warner.

2. Candidates coming in the back door

Just three or four years ago, a candidate who was looking for a new job would visit a company’s website, review its employment brand materials, submit a resume online, and then wait to hear back from the company. Those days are long gone. “Candidates are no longer content with going through what I refer to as the ‘front door’ of a corporation,” says Warner.

Today, candidates are avoiding established screening and hiring processes and using other ways to access information about a company’s job opportunities and work environment. Candidates often know someone who works at the company and will ask that person for help getting a job, or they’ll reach out to their social media network to learn about open positions and get direct referrals to hiring managers.

“Now we have candidates going through a different entry point and that creates problems,” comments Warner. That unconventional process results in less control over employment brand messaging and can increase administration for Human Resources and hiring managers.

A smart, cost-effective way to manage this change in candidate behavior is to build talent networks that meet prospective candidates at different entry points. One strategy is to involve your current technology employees in the recruiting process and find ways to leverage their social media networks to connect with current and prospective candidates. The new Dice Talent Network lets you do just that by seamlessly integrating recruiting and social networking. With it, you can build a network of professionals, communicate with that network quickly and manage your employment brand through social media outlets.

3. Greater employment brand transparency

Social media not only makes it easier to connect with prospective candidates, it also creates greater transparency when it comes to a company’s employment brand. It’s easy for candidates to use social media to validate – or invalidate – information companies provide about what it’s like to work for them. “The paradox of the reputation economy in which we now live is that a lot of perception is being shaped through a concept of social proof,” says Warner. “Employment brands are owned by the collective group of people who have a voice, and it’s no longer primarily the marketing material shaping candidate perceptions.” Indeed, employment brand is shaped by bloggers, networks and related mechanisms that enable anyone to provide a point of view on an employer’s brand.

Because of this greater transparency, authentic employment brands should be supported by company employees. Consider conducting an audit of your employment branding messages and materials to ensure that the message you’re sending is true and supported throughout the company. Also, make sure that the candidate experience you provide is positive and consistent so even those professionals you don’t hire have good things to say about their interaction with your organization.

1-2-3: Taking the First Steps to Using Social Media for Recruiting

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs. Friends, followers and fans. Social media is ubiquitous and has rapidly reshaped the way people connect, communicate and share information online.

What started as a way to make new friends and reconnect with old ones is now an important tool for businesses that want to build their brands, gain awareness and sell products and services. HR managers and tech recruiters are also using social media tools to source candidates for current job openings and build a pipeline of prospects for future hiring needs.

While social media tools can’t replace expertise, hard work, true recruiting know-how, and specialized job boards, they are a valuable addition to your recruiting toolbox.

But how do you get started? With all the options and jargon, taking the first steps into the social media world is daunting. This white paper walks you through the first steps in getting started with top social media tools and provides valuable “Tips” to help you save time and be more effective.

1-2-3: Twitter
Twitter is a social networking “micro blog” that lets you share your news and thoughts, gather information and build connections with other people on the network. You have 140 characters in each post – or “tweet” – to let people know what you’re doing, what you’re thinking and, in the case of recruiting, who you’re looking for.

People interested in what you have to say will “follow” you. You can also follow other people’s tweets to see what they’re doing and build your network. The conversation between you and your followers is cataloged in chronological timeline on your home page.

Step 1. Set up a Twitter account
Go to https://twitter.com and click on “Sign Up.” Follow the simple steps to create your own user name, password and location.

Tip: As a recruiter or staffing manager be sure that you select a user name, or “handle,” that easily identifies you and isn’t too catchy.

  • After signing up, set up your account and profile.
  • Click on “Settings” in the upper right corner.
  • Click on “Account” in the sub-menu and complete the form.
    – At the bottom of the Account page, when asked whether you want to protect your updates, leave the box unchecked. If you check the box, you’ll be excluded from Twitter’s public timeline and your visibility on the site will be lowered dramatically.
    – Click “Save” to update your settings.
  • Then set up your profile. Your profile gives your followers some information about you and a link to a website so they can learn more if they’re interested.
    – Click “Profile” in the sub-menu.
    – Complete the Profile form.
    – Add a picture. Follow the steps to upload a photo of yourself.
    – Add a link to your website, careers page or job listings for more information.
    – In the Bio section, write two short sentences about your role as a recruiter or staffing manager. You’re limited to 160 characters so make your message concise and compelling.
    – Click “Save” to update your profile.
    – Click “Design” from the sub-menu.
    – Follow the steps to personalize your home page background.
    – Click “Save Changes” to update your background.

Tip: If you’re in HR for a company, consider adding information about he company in the Bio section.

Tip: Companies often upload a custom Twitter background to provide additional contact information to followers.

Step 2. Follow, search and tweet
With your account and profile complete, it’s time to build your network on Twitter.

  • Start following. To build your network on Twitter you need to “follow” people – in other words sign up to read their posts – and you need people to follow you.
    – Start by reaching out to colleagues and people you know on Twitter already. Search for their name using the basic “search” feature in the right-hand column of your home page.
    – If you find someone you’re interested in following, click the “Follow” button that appears near the top of their profile page. Their tweets will appear in your Twitter home page. They’ll likely return the favor and start following you and your network will start to grow.

Tip: People following you will receive your posts on their Twitter page and their followers will see your posts as well.

  • Conduct a search
    – Searching for connections on Twitter is another way to build your following. The search functionality on the Twitter home page is limited. Instead, visit www.search.twitter.com for a separate search tool owned by Twitter that offers advanced search options.
    – Click on “Advanced Search” and it will take you to http://search.twitter.com/advanced
    – Create a search by entering keywords or phrases based on the candidates you’re trying to hire, for example: “C++” or “Java developer.”
    – You can also search general phrases – “looking for new job” or “job searching” – to find tweets from people in the market for work.
    – Limit your search geographically by adding a city, metro area or zip code in the “Places” section.
    – Hit “Search” and the tool will pull up all current tweets that match your search parameters.
    – Review the list and if you find someone who looks like a good prospect, check their bio and then consider following them to start building a relationship. Click their “Follow” button if you like to begin following someone.
  • Start “tweeting” at https://twitter.com
  • Tweeting updates your followers on what you’re doing, what type
    of candidates you’re looking for and what’s new at your company.
    – Introduce yourself to the Twitter community by typing a comment in the “What’s happening?” box at the top of your Twitter home page. Click the “Tweet” button to post it.
    – Then continue tweeting by sharing interesting information and insight to build the conversation between you and your followers.
    – Use keywords as much as possible when using Twitter for recruiting. Your tweets appear in Twitter’s Search Results so adding keywords – specific tech skills, job titles or locations – makes it easier for people to connect with you.
    – Try adding hashtags to your tweets. A hashtag is a word or phrase proceeded by the # sign (i.e. #TechRecruiting) used in a tweet to group tweets on a particular subject or event. Hashtags make it easy to search for tweets on a topic. Create your own hashtag or use an existing one to comment on a trend or topic being discussed on Twitter.

Tip: Keep it short and interesting – a counter in the upper right corner of the “What’s happening?” box will let you know when you’ve used all 140 characters.

Step 3. Try other Twitter tools

Retweet — Sharing ideas, information and resources from people who follow you is called “retweeting.” It’s a powerful, easy way to share information, give someone kudos for a good idea and extend your network. Retweets are indicated in the timeline with “RT.”

Direct Message — You can direct message, or “DM” a follower using the “Direct Message” link in the right-hand column of your home page. DMs are only seen by the recipient and aren’t cataloged in the timeline.

@YourName — When you see a message including @(YourUserName) in your timeline that means someone wrote a message to you or referred to you in a message.

Tip: Once you’ve connected with a prospective candidate, DM them with info about a specific opportunity or to arrange a call.

Tip: As a recruiter, it’s important to keep up with these mentions and reply back accordingly.

Five Smart Ways to Retain Top Tech Talent

Update software programs, build more robust networks, create better security systems…

Technology hiring and investment have been two bright spots in an overall slow job market and uneven economic recovery. Today, the question is – can it continue? Companies have already made commitments to reignite technology projects that were put on hold during the economic downturn and to deal with inadequate resources. Even with fresh doubts on the economy, those commitments will likely be fulfilled.

“Companies are playing a bit of catch-up in terms of their infrastructure, as well as the IT staff they need to replace aging hardware and software and who can deal with security challenges,” says Tom Silver, senior vice president of North America for Dice Holdings, Inc.

Now tech professionals with specific skill sets, such as mobile application development or the ability to program in multiple languages, are in high demand. Several forces have converged to create a talent crunch in the tech sector, which is driving competition to lure tech talent and lucrative compensation packages for even newly minted tech professionals:

• Low tech unemployment — As of July 2011, the unemployment rate for computer and mathematical professionals was just 4.7% – about half of the overall U.S. labor market rate. Trends indicate that tech sector hiring will continue to increase throughout 2011. “The search for exceptional, top-quality technical candidates is alive and well as companies struggle to attain the level of talent they desperately need. The war for talent is still fiercely competitive at the top levels,” says Craig Hufford, technology search managing partner and practice lead at NextGen Global Executive Search.

Unemployment Rates

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 2011.

• Mobile technology boom — The acceleration of the digital revolution is driving demand for mobile application developers, high-level programmers and network systems experts. While these sought-after IT professionals know how to harness technology to help companies run more efficiently and increase revenue, there aren’t enough of them. In fact, job postings on Dice that include some specific tech skills have more than doubled in the last year.

Mobile Skills

Source: Dice.com jobs posted on Aug. 2, 2010 and Aug. 1, 2011.

• More start-ups — A wave of investment dollars is fueling the growth of many new start-up companies, which is putting pressure on the tech hiring market. Even big name employers such as Google and Facebook are struggling to attain and retain top tech talent. In a widely publicized retention effort toward the end of last year, Google gave all its employees a 10% raise and a $1,000 bonus.

More postingTech Hiring Gets Aggressive

As a result of the tight IT hiring market, the battle amongst employers for top tech talent is intensifying. Companies around the country are reporting that more aggressive hiring tactics are being used to lure tech professionals away from their current employers. And many think that process is only going to accelerate. According to a recent Dice survey, 54% of employers expect competition for top tech talent to increase this year compared to 2010, while just 3% expect that competition to decrease.

So how do you know if your staff members are looking elsewhere for work? “If there is a noticeable change in an employee’s work habits, such as single day absences, a disengaged attitude, changing to more formal dress, and frequent sick days, these are all indications that the person is looking around,” advises Silver.

Five Proactive Retention Strategies

You can’t completely protect your organization from competing with other employers, but you can use proactive retention strategies so that employees are less inclined to entertain offers from other companies. Putting in the effort up front is worthwhile because it’s difficult to retain employees once they’ve begun to seek employment elsewhere, even with additional compensation or advancement opportunities. “When companies react to a person leaving, they often cannot change the really important reasons why the person is leaving, irrespective of the amount of money they throw at him,” says Hufford.

#1: Make sure it’s a match — Tech professionals have a slightly different motivation from other employees, says Herb Gosewisch, partner at U.S. Alliance Partners, a consultancy focused on employee engagement and sustainability practices. “They have more loyalty to their career and personal development than the company that employs them,” he says. “IT workers tend to stay longer and find more satisfaction when they feel they can ‘own’ their work and it’s something they influence from a creative point of view.”

So the stronger the match between the job requirements and the employee’s skills, goals and values, the more likely it is that the employee will want to stay. “Focus on a key individual and make sure that the projects they’re working on allow them to continue to develop their skill set,” says Silver.

#2: Start strong — Retention efforts should begin during onboarding. “All the recent studies suggest that new employees determine within the first few months of employment whether or not they made a good decision,” says Gosewisch. Engaging new employees in the company culture and business infrastructure from day one will improve employees’ experiences and prospects for staying.

#3: Reduce burnout — In today’s fast-paced IT work environments, stress levels and burnout can run high and lead to employee turnover. Evaluate your project management and organizational approaches, seek ways to improve work-life balance and ensure equitable delineation of duties. Better yet, ask your technology employees for their input on lowering stress and lightening workloads.

#4: Conduct motivation checks — Regularly assessing your employees’ motivation for their work gives you valuable insight into their level of engagement and allows you to make strategic adjustments. Motivation checks also serve as an early warning system. “Regular assessment gives you the opportunity to identify the people who are thinking about leaving or who are somehow dissatisfied with the work or the environment,” says Gosewisch. He adds that getting regular feedback from employees often uncovers small management issues that can be corrected before they become big problems.

#5: Develop a sustainability strategy — Believe it or not, your company’s commitment to the environment, the community and innovation is very important to many key employees, especially Generation Ys and Millennials who often have the most experience with leading-edge technology. These two generations grew up surrounded with environmental messages they see as important. “An employer needs to show that it has a strategy to not only be profitable and exciting, but that it has a social and environmental conscience. It also needs to show that it allows employees inside the company to be innovative and have a voice,” says Steve Caballero, partner at U.S. Alliance Partners. “Making a profit at the expense of the planet, the community, and your people does not cut it anymore.”

One thirdShow Me the…Promotion

Beyond organizational and management changes there are other, more tangible things that employers can do to improve retention. While giving employees salary increases is the first and most obvious approach, money isn’t the only answer.

The charts below show rankings of what retention benefits employers are offering versus what benefits employees actually want.

Retention Strategies

Source: Dice employer survey, March 2011.

What professionals Want

Source: Dice survey of tech professionals, June 2011.

Looking Ahead

For the remainder of the year, the technology recruiting market is expected to remain healthy. With certain shortages in metropolitan areas and skill sets, competition amongst employers for top tech talent will continue giving tech professionals the upper hand in the job market. “Tech professionals know that the pendulum has swung back in their favor a little,” says Silver. This means employers need to step up their game – quickly.

The best place to start is a careful and complete review of employee retention practices, benefits and onboarding processes. The focus should be on what the company offers versus what employees and prospective tech candidates actually want. Silver advises, “The IT hiring market is tight and employers don’t want to lose good people. Now is the time to act.”

Tech Skills Glossary for Non-IT Professionals

— A —

ABAP — Programming Language — Advanced Business Application Programming. An object-oriented programming language, created by German company SAP, for developing applications for SAP’s system.

Access — Database — Software for creating and managing databases from Microsoft. Access is easier to use than many other database systems making it ideal for less-skilled users.

AIX — Operating System — A UNIX-like operating system produced by IBM.

AJAX — Programming Language — Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. A web development model that groups existing technologies together to create interactive web applications.

Apache Tomcat — Application Server — A specialized application server for Java code to execute.

Application Delivery — Networking Technology — A suite of technologies that provide application availability, load balancing, security and acceleration.

Application Server — Application Server — A server that hosts an application programming interface to expose business logic and business processes for use by third-party applications.

AS/400 — IBM Skill — A midrange server for small companies and departmental use in large firms. The system has recently been rebranded as the “IBM iSeries.”

ASP — Programming Language — Active Server Page. A web page that includes one or more scripts (small embedded programs) that are processed on a server before being sent to a user. A Microsoft product.

ASP.net — Programming Language — Faster than a standard ASP page, elements on an ASP. net web page act as objects and are run on a server. A Microsoft product.

— B —

Business Intelligence — Database — The systems and tools businesses use to collect, store and analyze corporate data and to understand market behavior.

— C —

C — Programming Language — A popular language that provides very fine control over the performance and size of a program, especially compared to other higher-level languages.

C++ — Programming Language — A superset of C that adds object-oriented features (a group of objects that act on each other, rather than a set of functions or instructions). Popular for graphical applications.

C# — Programming Language — (Pronounced “c-sharp”) A combination of C and C++, C# is an object-oriented language used on a .NET platform to develop web applications. A Microsoft product that resembles Java.

CAD — Graphics & Multimedia — Computer- Aided Design. A hardware and software combination that allows engineers and architects to design a variety of objects. Most CAD workstations run on Windows-based PCs, while some CAD systems run on hardware from a UNIX or Linux operating system.

Change Management — Process Management — A service management process that ensures standardized, orderly methods for changes to IT infrastructure.

CICS — IBM Skill — Customer Information Control System. A transaction manager that controls processes on IBM mainframes.

Cisco — Networking Technology — A leading manufacturer of products for networking including routers, switches, wireless and unified communications technologies.

CISP — Certification — Certified Information Systems Security Professional. An independent information security certification administered by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium.

Cloud Computing — Other Skill — A style of computing that uses a network of shared computing resources, “the cloud,” rather than having local servers or personal devices process the applications.

COBOL — Programming Language — Common Business Oriented Language. A popular language for business applications that run on large computers (mainframes). Though created in the late 1950s, it is still one of the most widely used languages.

Cognos — Database — An IBM company that makes software for business intelligence and performance management.

ColdFusion — Programming Language — A toolset including an application server and software language used to create dynamic web pages integrated with databases.

CRM — Enterprise Application — Customer Relationship Management. Encompasses the capabilities and technologies that support managing customer relationships, whether it is sales or service-related.

Crystal Reports — Database — A popular Windows-based report generation program. It can integrate data from multiple databases to create one report.

CS — Programming Language — Cascading Style Sheets. A mechanism used by web site developers to define how HTML web pages are displayed.

— D —

Data Deduplication — Storage — The process of deleting redundant data and storing only one copy of data while retaining the data index. Data Warehouse — Database — A collection of an organization’s electronically stored data.

DB2 — Database — The group of relational database management products from IBM.

DHCP — Networking Technology — Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol. A protocol used by devices on a network to dynamically assign IP addresses.

Disaster Recovery — Process Management — A plan for recovering a business’s electronic resources, including data records, in the event of a disaster.

DNS — Networking Technology — Domain Name System. An Internet process that converts domain names into IP addresses.

— E —

eDiscovery — Storage — Refers to any process in which electronic data is sought, located, secured and searched with the intent of using it as evidence in a civil or criminal legal case.

EMC Corporation — Storage — A leading provider of information infrastructure systems, software and services found in storage networks and large data centers.

Ethernet — Networking Technology — A widely used connection between a computer and a local area network (LAN).

ERP — Enterprise Application — Enterprise Resource Planning. A system that integrates all the data and processes of an organization into a single unified system.

ESX — Other Skill — An enterprise-class server virtualization platform offered by VMware, Inc.

ETL — Database — Extract Transform and Load. A process that combines three database functions into one tool to pull data from one database and load it on to another.

— F —

Fibre Channel — Storage — A network technology used for storage networking especially for mass storage that requires very high bandwidth.

Firewall — Networking Technology — A system that prevents unauthorized users from accessing a network. Communications entering or exiting the network pass through the firewall, which checks each communication and stops those that do not meet the security criteria.

Flash — Graphics & Multimedia — A software program from Adobe used to develop animation on the web.

Frame Relay — Networking Technology — A packet-switching protocol that makes transmission of digital information more efficient.

— G —

Gateway — Networking Technology — A node or processing location on a network that acts as a doorway to another network.

— H —

HP-UX — Operating System — Hewlett- Packard’s first, proprietary Unix operating system.

HTML — Programming Language — The language used to create web pages. It provides structure to text in a web document and enhances that text with interactive forms, images and other objects.

Hub/Switch — Networking Technology — A piece of hardware that links together segments of a local area network (LAN).

Hyper-V — Other Skill — Microsoft’s implementation of a virtual machine hypervisor, which allows the separating of a computer operating system from the underlying hardware resources.

— I —

IIS — Application Server — Internet Information Server. A set of Internet-based services for servers using Microsoft Windows.

Illustrator — Graphics & Multimedia — A drawing and illustration software program developed by Adobe Systems.

Informatica — Database — A leading provider of data integration software.

iSCSI — Storage — Internet SCSI. A protocol allowing organizations to link storage devices over a network and transfer data via IP networks.

iSeries — IBM Skill — A midrange server for small companies and departmental use in large firms. Previously known as “AS/400.”

ITIL — Process Management — Information Technology Infrastructure Library. A widely accepted set of best practices for IT service management.

— J —

Java/J2EE — Programming Language — An object-oriented language often used for creating small applications, called Java applets, which enhance the functionality of a web page. Similar to C++ but simpler.

JavaScript — Programming Language — Sharing many of the same features of Java, JavaScript can interact with other code to make a web page more dynamic by changing the page each time it is viewed.

JBoss — Application Server — An open source, Java based application server and development toolset available on multiple platforms.

JCL — Programming Language — Job Control Language. A scripting language used to instruct an IBM mainframe operating system to execute a job.

JDBC — Programming Language — Java Database Connectivity. A Java programming language that controls database access.

JDE — Enterprise Application — J.D. Edwards. A suite of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software produced by Oracle Corporation.

JSP — Programming Language — Java Server Pages. A Java technology developers use to dynamically integrate HTML, XML and other types of code to make the software more functional.

Juniper — Networking Technology — A leading manufacturer of products for networking including bridges, routers and switches.

— L —

LAN — Network — Local Area Network. A computer network that covers a small area like a home, office or close group of buildings.

Linux — Operating System — A UNIX-like operating system that is free and can be run on many platforms, including PCs and Macs.

Lotus Notes — Database — A sophisticated email and database application that allows users to develop and share communications as well as database-oriented programs.

— M —

MacOS — Operating System — The official name of the operating system for a Mac computer.

Mainframe — IBM Skill — A large computer system that stores bulk data capable of supporting a great number of users simultaneously.

Microsoft Office — Graphics & Multimedia — MS Office. A suite of general business software programs including Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Microsoft Project — Special Skill — A program designed to assist project managers in developing plans, assigning tasks, tracking progress and managing budgets.

MPLS — Networking Technology — Multi Protocol Label Switching. A mechanism for using a shared IP network to securely carry traffic from many, possibly unrelated systems while allowing for differentiated handling to ensure quality of service to critical or timesensitive applications.

MySQL — Database — A free relational database management system that depends on SQL to process data in a database. See SQL and RDBMS entries.

— N —

NAS — Storage — Network-Attached Storage. A storage server dedicated to sharing on a network.

.NET — Programming Language — An umbrella term for a collection of Microsoft products that depend on the .NET framework, such as C# or Visual Basic.NET.

NetApp — Storage — Network Appliance, Inc. A data management and computer storage company that fostered the widespread use of network-attached storage.

Network Security — Other Skill — Policies and processes for monitoring a network and protecting it from unauthorized access.

NIC — Networking Technology — Network Interface Card. A card that allows a computer to connect to a local area network (LAN).

— O —

Object-Oriented — Programming Paradigm — The idea that a computer program should be made up of a group of objects that act on each other, rather than a set of functions or instructions.

Open Source — Other Skill — A program with source code that the general public can access and modify for free.

Oracle Application Server — Application Server — A suite of Oracle products used to develop, deploy and integrate applications.

Oracle DB — Database — Oracle Corporation is a major software company that is best known for developing database products.

— P —

PeopleSoft — Enterprise Application — A leading provider of human resource, customer relationship and performance management software.

Perl — Programming Language — A language designed for processing text. Similar to C and C++ but easier to learn and faster to code.

PHP — Programming Language — An opensource, embedded scripting language used to create dynamic web pages.

PL/SQL — Programming Language — Oracle Corporation’s proprietary server-based version of the SQL language.

PowerBuilder — Programming Language — A computer application development system featuring an integrated development environment that speeds the creation and deployment of applications.

Python — Programming Language — A general programming language that is open source and very portable.

— Q —

QA — Process Management — Quality Assurance. A systematic development process that ensures a project, product or service meets certain standards, avoids defects and satisfies customer requirements.

QoS — Networking Technology — Quality of Service. The ability for a network to control different applications, data flow or users in order to guarantee a specific performance level.

— R —

RDBMS — Database — Relational Database Management System. Stores data in a series of tables.

Red Hat — Other Skill — A leading company that sells and supports its own Linux distribution and other open source technologies.

Router — Networking Technology — A hardware device that acts as a junction for forwarding data between two or more networks.

RPG — Programming Language — Report Program Generator. An IBM programming language used to develop business applications. Widely used on AS/400 / iSeries systems.

Ruby/Ruby on Rails — Programming Language — An open source web application framework for Ruby, an object-oriented programming language. ROR is used to develop databasebacked web applications.

— S —

SaaS — Other Skill — Software as a Service. A delivery method where software is treated as a service accessed from an Internet host. The process saves companies money and reduces maintenance and support problems.

SAN — Storage — Storage Area Network. A network of shared storage devices that can be accessed by multiple computers.

SAP — Enterprise Application — A leading provider of comprehensive integrated business applications.

SAS — Enterprise Application — A software system for statistical analysis, reporting and data mining produced by SAS Institute.

Script — Technical Term — A small, simple program or bit of programming code typically used for repeated actions.

Security Clearance — Special Skill — A status granted by the U.S. government to individuals allowing them access to classified information.

Sharepoint — Other Skill — An integrated suite of Microsoft technologies used for content sharing, collaboration and document management.

Shell — Programming Language — The processor that accepts and executes the commands a user enters in a UNIX operating system. Other versions include: C-shell (csh), Tab C-shell (tcsh), Bourne shell (bash), Korn shell (ksh).

Siebel — Enterprise Application — A leading provider of customer relationship management software systems.

SIP — Other Skill — Session Initiation Protocol. A signaling protocol that can be used to integrate Internet Telephony services with email, Internet and chat.

SMTP — Networking Technology — Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. An Internet standard for sending email messages between Internet servers.

SOA — Other Skill — Service Oriented Architecture. An application architecture that integrates functions to perform various business processes.

SOAP — Programming Language — Simple Object Access Protocol. A protocol for exchanging XML-based messages over a computer network.

Solaris — Operating System — A UNIXlike operating system produced by Sun Microsystems.

SOX Compliance — Process Management — The Sarbanes-Oxley Act mandates specific processes to improve the accuracy of financial reporting by public companies. SOX compliance has IT implications including the rule that all electronic messages and resources are saved for at least five years.

SQL — Programming Language — Structured Query Language. SQL is used to retrieve data from a database.

SQL Server — Database — A database that can respond to queries from applications on PCs or workstations using the SQL language.

Sun Microsystems — Enterprise Service Provider — A multinational company that sells computers, software, IT systems and services, including the Solaris operating system.

SUSE — Operating System — A commercial version of Linux sold by Novell, Inc. Sybase — Database — Sybase generally refersto database management systems developed by the Sybase Corporation.

— T —

TCP/IP — Networking Technology — Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol. A suite of communication protocols used to exchange data over the Internet between two computer systems.

Telephony — Networking Technology — Sound translated into electrical signals, which are transmitted, and then converted back into sound. Often refers to computer hardware and software that function similar to telephone equipment.

TOAD — Database — Tools for Oracle Application Development. A set of tools that streamlines development and administration of applications, databases and business intelligence.

Tomcat — Application Server — An open source, Java-based application server that runs on multiple platforms.

TSO/ISPF — Other Skill — Time Sharing Option and Interactive System Productivity Facility. Two software environments that allow system functionality from creating and managing data sets to submitting jobs.

— U —

Ubuntu — Operating System — A free operating
system derived from Debian Linux.

UML — Programming Language — Unified Modeling Language. A standardized software engineering language used to specify and visualize software programs.

Unified Communications — Other Skill — A movement to simplify business communications by integrating a range of technologies and applications into one platform.

UNIX — Operating System — Developed by Bell Labs in the 1970s, UNIX is a small, flexible operating system that has many variations.

— V —

Virtualization — Other Skill — A technique to implement a complete simulation of a device — an operating system, server or network — dividing the resource into multiple execution environments.

Visual Basic — Programming Language — A widely used programming language, Visual Basic was one of the first to provide graphical programming, rather than using functions or instructions. A Microsoft product.

Visual Basic.NET — Programming Language — The next generation of Visual Basic that makes web applications easier to develop.

Visual C++ — Programming Language — An object-oriented language developed by Microsoft for C++ programmers.

VMware — Other Skill — A leading provider of virtualization software and services.

VoIP — Networking Technology — A technology that delivers voice communications over IP-based data networks rather than traditional circuit transmissions.

VPN — Network — Virtual Private Network. A private network that uses a public network (usually the Internet) to connect remote sites or users together.

— W —

WAN — Network — Wide Area Network. A geographically dispersed network.
WebLogic — Application Server — A suite of application server products offered by Oracle Corporation.

WebSphere — Platform — Brand of IBM products that can process a high volume of e-business transactions over the web.

Wi-Fi — Networking Technology — A common technology that uses radio signals for wireless networking. Wi-Fi is used in home networks, some mobile phones and other devices that need wireless networking.

WiMAX — Networking Technology — Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access. A telecommunications technology, that uses a range of transmission modes to send data wirelessly. Also called IEEE 802.16.

Windows OS — Operating System — The collection of operating systems by Microsoft for use on personal computers.

Wireless — Network — A network where no physical wired connection is required. A user may connect to the network via low-powered radio waves.

— X —

Xen — Other Skill — An open source virtual machine hypervisor, which allows the separating of a computer operating system from the underlying hardware resources.

XML — Programming Language — eXtensible Markup Language. A language that facilitates the sharing of data across different systems, particularly systems connected via networked systems.

XSL — Programming Language — eXtensible Style Language. A group of transforming languages used to describe how content and style should be separated when creating HTML or XML web pages.

Top Questions You Must Ask to Write a Great Job Description

Get more online applications to your jobs on Dice. Get a better result for the IT hiring manager.

Obtain key qualifiers from the IT hiring manager up front. Don’t just look for key words in a resume or rely on a standard job description. With answers to the following questions you’ll be able to write more effective job descriptions and uncover qualified technology candidates more quickly.

TECH SPECIFICS

  1. Certifications required
  2. Skills and years of experience required by area of expertise (QA, servers/networks, databases)
  3. Level of involvement with skills: used in new development, enhancement and/or maintenance work
  4. Management experience/expertise required
  5. Specific work experience required vs. preferable (rank order of importance)
  6. Proof of work product or deliverable that must be demonstrated
  7. Project scope for past activities (hours, budget, resources)
  8. Security clearances required
  9. Key development tools the candidate must have experience using (rank order of importance)
  10. Methodologies the candidate must have used extensively

REMEMBER THE BASICS

  1. Permanent position or temporary contract position (& how long)
  2. Level of education required
  3. Position’s most critical responsibilities
  4. Most difficult aspects of the position
  5. Desired personality characteristics
  6. Organizational structure above and below the position
  7. Management style of the supervisor(s)
  8. Overall pace of work: Quick or methodical
  9. Amount of interaction with customer groups or clients (how much and in what types of situations)
  10. Salary range/maximum salary
  11. Percentage travel required
  12. Culture of the group/team