Top talent can be hard to come by in any industry. In the IT industry, that difficulty is magnified because the skills are varied and, in many cases, there just aren't that many people who fit the bill. A 2011 survey by found that the unemployment rate in the tech industry was less than half the American average, and that in many companies, positions stayed open for months at a time.

That's where IT recruitment comes in. IT recruitment focuses on identifying talent for IT-related jobs. Because IT is inherently diverse, an IT recruiter typically needs to know the different IT areas such as security, development and programming. Aside from that, there are platforms, operating systems, languages and other technical distinctions that need to be considered. So how can IT companies get the top talent? Let's take a look.

Why IT Recruitment Matters

Any HR pro will tell you that recruitment isn't something you mess around with; it involves attracting a high-quality group of applicants, and selecting the best person for the job. This is no hit-and-miss exercise - or it shouldnt' be. Replacing a bad hire is expensive, often very expensive. According to Barrett Consulting Group, replacing an employee can cost a company up to two times that person's salary and benefits. That means it pays to find the right person and offer an attractive compensation package.

Harvard Business Online also factors in the intangible costs of being unable to attract and retain top talent, such as lower morale, more workload and the costs associated with retraining other employees. More recent studies have found that apart from the actual cost of hiring and training employees, the real cost of a bad hire also includes a higher unemployment tax rate for the company, something that could run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

The Right Way to Recruit Top IT Talent

In February 2012, a CareerBuilder survey uncovered some of the top reasons why companies hire bad employees. It found that companies chose unsuitable candidates to fill a vacancy quickly (38 percent), without researching or testing the employees skills (21 percent), and without doing adequate reference checks on the candidates (11 percent). Thirty-four percent said that the employee just did not work out.

So how can companies hire the best IT talent?

  1. Don't Rush
    Statistics show that filling a position quickly doesn't pay. Therefore, companies should aim to find the right candidate, even if that means waiting for that candidate to appear. This also means that every potential employee should be vetted carefully. In some cases, professional certifications can provide a bit of a shortcut in determining an applicant's skills and abilities. (Check out some of the most in-demand certifications in Top 5 Highest Paying IT Certifications and How to Get Them.)

  2. Seek Enthusiasm
    There are a lot of people who will take just about any job, but that type of person is unlikely to be a good employee - at least not for long. As such, it's important to find someone that wants the job being offered at the company that's offering it. This ensures a better fit and improves the likelihood that a company will be able to keep the employee over the long term.

  3. Know What Employees Want
    Big companies with big reputations - like Google or Apple - often have applicants breaking the door down to get in. Startups, which may not have an established track record, are likely to face the opposite problem. So how can they attract recruits? The answer isn't exactly simple. For instance, a 2011 report by Cisco found that most young professionals and college students would accept a lower paying job if it meant that they could use their own mobile devices and access social media at work. The bottom line here is that companies can't assume they know what potential hires want. But they should find out - and do what they can to deliver. (BYOT is an increasingly important draw for potential employees in IT. Find out more in BYOT: What It Means for IT.)

    Companies should also become a presence at IT events, speak at conferences, go to job fairs and talk about the company's culture. In other words, companies should spread the word about themselves well before a position becomes vacant. This is especially crucial for IT startups, whose reputation will not precede them in the wanted ads.

  4. Get Help
    If the HR department has a lot of hiring to do or does not have the means to properly evaluate IT candidates, seeking outside help can be a great solution, not to mention a solid investment.

IT recruitment is an important activity for every company. Without the right talent, IT can't be fully used to do what it does best, which is lower costs, streamline operations and operate with fewer problems. Plus, hiring the right people the first time is more efficient and less expensive. Now how can any business argue with that? (You can read more about IT careers in our careers section.)