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You probably know how to source and recruit people from your own profession. An IT expert may be unsure how to source a great salesperson. A marketing guru might not know how to attract a CFO.

What about filling a computer technology position? How does one do that?

The best answer, which really applies to every hire no matter how skilled that position is or not:  be looking, really looking, before the vacancy occurs. We have talked on the Talent Blog about filling open jobs before so let’s focus on finding talent before you need to fill a job.

Meet Dave Koziol, owner of Arbormoon Software. Why does Dave sponsor CocoaHeads and other events, buying dozens if not hundreds of pounds of pizza each year? True, he is a nice guy who wants to give back to the community, but it is more than that. Dave says, “People who are self-motivated do well in our industry.” (And I heard the same from Bill Wagner, Founder of SRT Solutions, Dave Dullack, Technical Recruiter at Randstad / Technisource and others in the past few months.) So how do you know who’s motivated? Host a user group, serve up some pizza, and see who comes. Who comes, who participates, and who is nice, etc.

Or monitor a user group to see who offers to help or contributes. Or attend A2 New Tech Meetup to notice who asks questions during or after the pitches. Or ask a candidate to send you some code they developed (P.S. If a candidate sends something developed for an employer or client, unless clearly open-source and public, such obvious disregard for intellectual property is a warning sign. Note also that some developers have not been trained in this area and may be unfortunately naïve.)

“Wait. Wait,” you say. “Scott, your premise was I am not a tech person. I don’t have time to be a member of the, for example, Ruby on Rails Linkedin group or read who is posting what on the status of co-developing Windows 8 and iOS in a  BYOD and VUCA world – as if I know this sentence even means. In other words, even if I went to a .NET user group in Ann Arbor, I would not be able to know who knows tech and who does not.”

Understood. But your company could buy the pizza for the .NET meeting and you will get 2 minutes to pitch your company’s staff needs. You could ask one of your IT contractors who already reviews six blogs and monitors four online, tech communities to be scope out some local talent and take names. Ask a recent hire how they participated in the IT community as well as how they looked for a new position. Assign a team member who is already going to the next, relevant event like Mobile Matchup, specifically charging him or her with looking for talent.  Sponsor one of your tech employees to be an active volunteer at TechBrewery for the next year and see what happens.  Maybe someone’s new company might not take off as planned and your staff will be there to offer a soft landing elsewhere.

While we focused here on IT, these tips can help connect you into any profession.

Yes, this takes time. Hiring no one is less expensive than hiring the wrong person, but neither option is acceptable. Permit me to end with one more Dave Koziol quote. This may become your business goal.

“I know who’s looking for work and who I want. We look for people all year round.”

Scott Trossen, Talent Director at Ann Arbor SPARK