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Posted on Friday, Sep 15, 2017
For our What IT Employers Want series, Hays IT talked to Jim Maddux, Transition Director at Atos, about what he looks for when hiring and how he assesses resumes and conducts interviews to find the best IT talent.
What are the hottest tech skills right now?
Cisco Engineers are really hard to find. There’s a big demand for refreshing tech, whether that’s on desktop or server level or image deployment, there seems to be a lot of that going on currently. Software is being centrally deployed rather than local installations.
Do you prefer candidates from big companies or smaller firms?
The accounts I have are huge organizations such as Daimler, Disney, Morton-Salt – I see a need for candidates with experience in that larger environment. The scale of project I undertake demands that candidates have large-scale experience.
How much do you value international experience in a candidate?
It’s very job dependent. Typically my work is regional so I will always hire local due to cost-effectiveness. I also find local candidates understand the culture and how things work in that specific part of the world. The type of work I do, I get a lot of international CVs for short-term, relatively junior tech needs and they have always done well for me.
To land the perfect candidate, what are you willing to negotiate on as part of the total compensation package?
In a large corporation like Atos there is basically no negotiation. I get what junior guys get in terms of healthcare and insurance so I can’t shift on that. I do have some room for compensation negotiations in terms of salary, but we are strictly banded by job types. We have heavy standardization. I would always use a local recruiter I trust because the US market is hugely different from Canadian markets and therefore my flexibility changes depending on the market I operate in.
Tech skills: how important is it to know the latest software/language? At what point does this become obsolete? E.g. 6 months, 2 year, 5 years etc
My experience from our customers is that the latest techs are not required. They actually don’t want it. I find my customers – as large, conservative firms – they have no pull for latest techs. They are hugely risk-averse, they go with tried and trusted technology.
What are the five things that make an IT resume stand out?
Context to the role – I need a required skillset. I hate to see job-hoppers. I make a large investment in my new recruits so I need to see demonstrated commitment. To some extent, industry experience has value, i.e. if I’m doing a PC rollout in a manufacturing firm that’s very specific so if somebody’s industry experience is tailored that will jump off the page to me. I also look for related skills that can be used in other areas of the project – I like to utilize resources accordingly.
Cover letters: What value do you think they add to a resume?
Interesting question. I think a cover letter has use, it demonstrates their softer skills far better than a CV ever can.
What certifications or qualifications do you look for in a resume?
Evaluating candidates in interviews
What are the top three soft skills that you look for in an IT professional? How do you assess during an interview?
Self-direction – I’m a remote manager for many people. Self-guidance. Being a team player. Do what it takes to get the job done. Ability to interact. Discretion. Communication skills, language and written. Flexibility. Work ethic.
I like “what if” scenarios. Or I just ask them directly “Are you happy working 7-5?” – I like to get straight to it. Hypothetical “if you ran in to this issue, what would you do?”, “tell me about times you’ve worked in a team environment”. I’ve hired hundreds of people, I sense now from body language and demeanor.
What is your experience with skills testing as part of the interview process?
It depends on job. Typically I bring in PMs for each project to do a skills analysis and dialogue. I prefer team interviews.
How can you tell if someone is genuinely interested in the job?
I’m very candid, as you know! I just tell them exactly what the job is and then “tell me your level of interest”, that opens things up. But I want to hear “this job and company sound really exciting, when can I start”. I don’t want soft answers, I want enthusiasm and directness in return.
How does professional attire influence your decision?
Great question. I’m old-fashioned! I don’t want to see earrings, tattoos, this is a customer-focused environment, I can’t have physical things that distract from the work that needs to be done. I know my customers and they are conservative, appearance is really important. It’s environment-dependent though. I expect a collared shirt.
When interviewing candidates, what’s your biggest turn-off?
I don’t want mousey people. Don’t come to me with a wimpy handshake. Unspoken things play a critical role.
How useful is social media when interviewing? Do you view candidates’ profile ahead of time?
It depends on the job. Most of the time I don’t, but I would expect the recruiter to do that to be honest. Honestly, that’s HR nonsense. I don’t care what you do at weekends with what girlfriend/s, I just care what you do Monday morning. To me, don’t let peoples personal social media influence your decision. Younger people can have wild outside lives but can be extremely efficient in the workplace.
How do you feel when the candidate looks you up on LinkedIn prior to the interview?
It wouldn’t bother me at all, it’s a two-way street. If I was them I would want to understand who I was working for and what makes them tick – relationships are everything.
How important is it that the candidate follows up with your after the interview?
I like it, it cements for me feelings I have on them. I want people who are proactive and direct, so it demonstrates to me they have these skillsets. It tells me they are interested, why wouldn’t you do that?!
Hear from 11 other IT employers to learn more about how you can stand out in the IT market. Claim your copy of the 2017 What Employers Want eBook today.