Posts Tagged ‘Datacenter Trust’

The state of the global economy notwithstanding, companies everywhere seem to be experiencing the some of the best growth seen in recent years. As the saying goes, however, mo’ money, mo’ problems. This couldn’t be truer when it comes to finding the best possible people to join your organization during the hockey-stick rise to prosperity.  In the past, this meant running an ad on an online job board, chatting to a few interesting candidates by phone, conducting a handful of interviews, and you were generally in good shape. Today, it means online job postings on multiple sites (often in multiple geographies) and potentially hundreds of resumes. Oh, and thanks to the recent belt-tightening, you’re now likely wearing more of those proverbial ‘hats’ in your organization – which means a lot less available time for sifting through resumes/CVs. Here are a few tools that can help you navigate that shiny hiring canoe of yours through glassier waters:

Write Great Job Postings

Like everyone else, I check out job postings now and again to see who’s hiring – jobs tend to be a pretty good barometer of what’s happening in the marketplace, and the ever-fluid tech sector in particular. I’m sure you likewise receive emails or calls from headhunters with the latest and greatest gig they think you’d be perfect for. I’ve got to say that in general, these guys are pretty good at what they do, and on the whole their descriptions of whatever job they’re plugging are fairly detailed and written well enough to capture my attention – at least for a moment or two anyway.

Now, contrasting this against the average job posting online (those you might find on sites like Indeed, CrunchBoard, or LinkedIn), I’m continually amazed at the lack of detail – and, quite frankly, good writing – in the average job posting. Little about the company and whether it’d be a fun, inspiring place to work, or a draconian bore-fest. Sparse details of the actual job duties. Run-of-the mill skills and experience lists. I mean, what caliber of candidates do companies expect to attract with such a mess of a posting? My point is this: when preparing your job posting, take your time. Put yourself in the shoes of that ideal person whom you want for the open positions. What schools should they have attended? Where should they have worked prior? If an engineer, should they actively contribute to coding forums or blog on their accomplishments? Should s/he have patents? If a business development or management position, whom should s/he know well/be close to? Are you looking for a thought leader or just a fantastic cold-caller? What competencies should they have that might indicate a top performer?

Also important is to be personal: Try to write the posting in a conversational style and be sure to include how great it is to be part of your company. People like working for fun companies. Spend an extra few minutes thinking about your posting and you’d be surprised at the high quality of responses you’ll receive as a result.

Use An Applicant Tracking System

Another surprising thing I find is the number of companies out there who apparently have only email as a means of receiving responses to job postings. Really? I get that loads of startups fit into this category, but what happens if you’re the next Zynga: your hot new product is taking off like a rocket and you’ve secured enough funding to scale. Now you need to hire – very quickly – perhaps 20 or so positions. Your postings are scattered about online and before you know it, you’ve got more than 500 resumes and cover letters to weed through, amidst your other 488 emails. Exactly: headache city.

The good news here is that there are several alternatives to email alone, whatever your organization size or budget. Applicant Tracking System/Talent Management Systems are readily available from The Resumator, Newton, Force.com apps (if using Salesforce), Taleo, Peopleclick Authoria, Kenexa…and as you can imagine, the list goes on. Most of these services are available – yes I’ll mention the dreaded word again this once – in the cloud, so no software or server to install. So spend a bit of time and investigate your options, but for goodness sake, move away from email-only. I repeat: Step away from the email. The great thing about just about any of these solutions is you can keep a database of job posting templates, publish/distribute to multiple job boards, screen incoming candidates, retain resumes for future consideration, and move candidates down the funnel to interview, offer letter, background check, and onboarding – all from a single environment. Look into it. You’ll thank me later.

Screening: Go Beyond The Resume

According to a 2010 survey of businesses across the US, UK, and EU by Cross-Tab, a market research provider, 85% of hiring managers feel that a positive online reputation influences their hiring decisions, and more than 70% of companies have a policy to screen all job candidates using – yep, you guessed it, social media. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other sites offer a treasure trove of data about whom the candidate is beyond his/her credentials and pedigree. If you aren’t screening candidates this way, you should be. That said, there is a bit of risk involved in screening this way, namely in the form of what the EEOC deems ‘protected class’ data (age, race, sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc.), which if you didn’t know is illegal to use when making a hiring decision in the US. (The UK and EU have similar privacy laws, by the by.) Three or four years ago, this wouldn’t have been too much of an issue with regard to screening, as the average resume/CV typically hasn’t changed much and typically doesn’t contain this kind of information. Visit a candidate’s LinkedIn or Facebook page, however, and you’ll invariably come across more than you should likely be seeing. Serious stuff, people. I’m not an attorney by any means, but I do know that lawsuits have been filed (and won) by didn’t-hire candidates over this sort of thing. Bottom line here is to move wisely; and most of all don’t be creepy – ‘friending’ candidates on Facebook so you can have a deeper view into his/her persona, etcetera.

Here too, though, comes our good friend technology to the rescue. A growing number of social media-driven resources are available to help get beyond the resume: LinkedIn offers some pretty good search tools. Klout, who analyze data to determine an individual’s level of influence (and whose scores apparently come up during candidate interviews here and again), and Reppify, who provide a web-based analysis of candidates’ online presence through their social networks according to your hiring criteria. (Disclosure: I currently hold a senior management position at Reppify.) Services such as these can help you to narrow that candidate funnel, identify the best candidate selections for your team, and mitigate discrimination liability risks.

Whatever your business, and however fast you may be growing, employing these three key strategies today should significantly help you to identify the candidates who best fit your organization, as well as save you loads of time and money (and probably a few grey hairs as well). Happy hiring!

Photo Credit: Woodleywonderworks

Last November at the Business Technology Summit in Bangalore, India I shared a few thoughts on how leaders of IT organizations can refresh technology, continue to deliver sound IT and meet customer needs, and, by taking advantage of on-demand infrastructure services, remain in the good graces of the company CFO.  I’ll attempt to do a bit of a recap here, adding recent data points and additional thoughts along the way.  Well then, shall we?

The US Department of Commerce reports (most recent Information & Communication Technology Survey, which was in 2007) that capital expenditures (CAPEX) make up, on average, 63% of companies’ IT spending.

CIO’s today are currently faced with decreased capital and operating IT budgets, as well as staffing reductions or hiring freezes.  All the while, the expectation to scale applications and systems – and maintain performance and SLAs – remains.

In October 2009, Barclays Capital reported in its CIO survey that IT spending expectations would increase 0-5% in 2010 versus 2009, with priority placed on datacenter expansions, virtualization and Cloud initiatives. In the near term, CIOs had forecasted that their IT spend would be focused on storage, networking, and servers.  Comparing the Barclays results with a more recent CIO survey – this one conducted by Gartner this past January, where some 1,500 CIOs surveyed yielded a similarly bleak forecast: IT spending will largely remain flat, and if it does increase, it’ll do so by just over one percent.  (Which clearly isn’t great, but it also isn’t the elbow-drop of more than eight percent in IT budgets as seen in 2009 .)  Oh, the CIOs in this latest survey also posited that their IT organizations have about the same level of resources now as they had back when Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” ruled the airwaves; yep, welcome back to 2005. The lesson? Wring everything you can from what you’ve got.  Having fun yet?

Right, so how does one squeeze blood from this proverbial IT turnip? The first step is to dig into your IT spending a bit – gain as much understanding and insight as to what you have in your arsenal today – and the related costs – as possible. This sounds like a simple task, but you’d be surprised how many IT directors and CIOs don’t really know just exactly what they are using and how much they’re paying. (Sidebar: If you haven’t yet read my partner Brian Superczynski’s article from last week, I’d encourage it; he offers good thinking and a few tools around this business insight)

The CIOs surveyed by Gartner report that their top three business priorities for 2010 are:

  • Business process improvement
  • Reducing enterprise costs
  • In the use of informatics/analytics

In addition, their top three technology priorities for this year:

  • Virtualization
  • Cloud computing
  • Web 2.0 (read: Social Networks)

Taking a cue from this, the next step to a CAPEX-free world is to first address how the data points above stack up against your own business and technology priorities, then explore ways in which you can reduce capital costs by taking advantage of outsourced infrastructure and related services like virtualization.  Hang on now…don’t be afraid of that Cloud…embrace it. I’m not suggesting you entrust your most valuable corporate crown jewels to a multi-tenant (shared) Cloud service (Amazon Web Services/Elastic Compute Cloud and Rackspace Cloud largely fall into this category).  These services do have their place and you may find they will play an important role for your organization at some point. However, I’m referring to enterprise-class, private datacenter services, where you retain complete control over access and to your infrastructure above the operating system; it’s just that someone else manages everything else –  hardware/upgrades/monitoring, inter-networking, bandwidth, power, etc are all taken care of.  Think of this as an extension of your own datacenter that simply lives elsewhere…you still have the master key and you pay for everything “as-a-service”, largely free of capital costs.

These as-a-service solutions take on many forms, each designed to address specific IT needs: Compute Clouds for development or testing, storage arrays, backup datacenters/Disaster Recovery (DR) services, email, or simply a rack of dedicated servers with your name on it.  A few providers to consider in this area: private Cloud services like Terremark’s Enterprise Cloud, SoftLayer’s CloudLayer, or datacenter replication/DR from nScaled, CA’s ArcServe, or dedicated, managed servers from Latisys, The Planet, Rackspace, and others.  The point is to spend the time. Sit in on a few webinars. Perform your due diligence, seek help if you need it, and I think you’ll find that utilizing tools like infrastructure-as-a-service for some applications or areas of your infrastructure makes sound business sense.  Also, if you have a technology refresh initiative as core to achieving your goals in 2010, these services typically deploy on the latest hardware…double bonus!

By the way, much of the data from the Gartner survey can be found on the author’s blog post here.

The Japanese pioneered a concept you are probably familiar with called Kaizen: calculated steps, taken daily, designed to achieve a larger goal. Applying this methodology is key to a sound migration path away from capital IT expenditures and toward infrastructure-as-as-service.  (I know, I could have just said “baby steps” but this Kaizen thing just sounds better, no?) Here’s how you apply it:

  1. Start small
  2. Find a service that meets your liking then deploy – perhaps just one or two applications or projects
  3. Monitor performance and costs for a month or three, using the service as a Litmus test to evaluate and design the migration for the rest (or most) of your infrastructure.

If they pass muster, simply add more fuel to this as-a-service fire and before long, you’ll find yourself on the receiving end of praise from the CFO, your own team, and your customer as well. Or maybe you’ll find yourself singing happily along to “Since U Been Gone.” If the latter, you just might want to keep that one to yourself.