IT recruiters combine personnel skills with tech sector knowledge
Photograph by: Rebecca Blissett , For Postmedia News
As the information technology field continues to grow, competition for candidates to fill key IT positions is heating up, says Julia MacKenzie, an IT recruiter with Goldbeck Recruiting in Vancouver.
MacKenzie initially worked in advertising in Toronto, then spent five years working in the United Kingdom for GDS International, a company specializing in staging business-to-business events.
“I arranged a lot of pharmaceutical events, partnering buyers with manufacturers and service providers and helping to facilitate strategic alliances and private meetings between major players,” she says.
MacKenzie completed an 18-month stint in Malaysia to kick-start the company’s Australasian office, then settled in Vancouver, closer to family members, and found herself embarking on a new career.
“I was trying to leverage what I already knew, creating partnerships with senior personnel at various companies. But the Canadian market doesn’t have the same level of B2B events as they stage in Europe,” she says. “I thought that IT recruiting would be an interesting avenue to explore. Then I met Henry Goldbeck, the president of Goldbeck Recruiting. He had just hired a recruiter in the financial sector and wasn’t looking to hire, but I guess I must have dazzled him. He hired me two days later and we launched the IT recruitment division soon after in 2010.”
Clients in the sector range from wireless companies and software development firms to Internet service providers.
IT recruiters require a good basic knowledge of the field, she says, including relevant programming languages, computer platforms and other technical information. Understanding the difference between the recruiting needs of a web development company, a video gaming company and a telecommunications firm is essential.
MacKenzie’s position pays both salary and a commission based on the compensation of the person hired. “I handle placements at any level, but I’ve become know in Vancouver for developing a niche in C-level placements,” she says. Those placements include chief executive officers (CEOs), chief technology officers (CTOs), and chief information officers (CIOs).
Discretion plays an important part in the recruitment field, MacKenzie says. She doesn’t consider herself a poacher or headhunter; instead, she approaches IT professionals about positions that may appeal to someone they know. “If they tell me they’re looking to make a move, we can continue the discussion,” she says. “But never during working hours and never at the person’s current workplace.”
The most difficult part of the job for MacKenzie is eventually relinquishing control of “the deal.”
“I come from a sales background where I had a lot of control in overcoming the objection of a sales prospect,” she says. “However, if I’m presenting someone with an IT candidate, I’m not there to overcome an objection for them. I have to stand back and let the candidates overcome objections themselves. Once you fill the technical requirements of the position, you have to trust them to be savvy during the interview process.”
It’s also challenging to meet the needs of clients who want their candidates to possess a knowledge of all the major programming languages, every database and every server. “Some clients ask for the stars,” she says. “And the demands are often more difficult to meet at the junior levels than at the senior levels.”
The best part of the job is building relationships. “I really enjoy the client side,” says MacKenzie. “I have built a great network of executives, with some of those relationships becoming friendships.”
Neil Patte, publisher of The Directory of Canadian Recruiters, has reported on the Canadian recruiting field since 1993 and says that domestic recruiting is showing continued resilience.
“The number of recruiting firms has held in Canada through the past few years,” says Patte. “We’re currently listing almost 4,000 recruiters and IT recruiters represent more than 800 of them. While the recent recession might have diminished billings somewhat, the companies are all still there and the ones that were stars before the recession are still stars afterward.”
By Peter Kenter, For Postmedia NewsMay 31, 2012