Why are some positions so hard to fill?

August 27th, 2014

Sometimes there are positions that are harder to fill than others, but why? Here are some answers:

“We want one just like the last one.”

It’s not uncommon for a job to evolve over time around a current employee’s skill set.

In the IT realm, there may be a .NET developer that also has additional skills like graphic design and since they had an added bonus on their resume, it may be something you will not find in another .NET developer and therefore, the position can be harder to fill.

 “I’m leaving, but I can’t let go.”

Ownership can be a double-edged sword. We all want our employees to take ownership of their jobs. But this can become a problem if an outgoing employee is involved in the process of hiring their own replacement. Some people may feel so possessive of their job that they can’t imagine anyone else taking their place.

“They have worked at too many companies.”

In this changing world of work, traditional career paths are becoming less common. Fewer people are working for the same company for five years or more. Especially in IT, many employees may even work in temporary, part-time and project-based jobs as independent contractors. Do not dismiss these types of candidates as job hoppers you may miss out on some very talented prospects.

“They don’t have a degree? I’ll pass.”

Before you require a degree for a position, ask yourself whether it’s really necessary. Could a certain amount of related experience be substituted for a degree? Many of the IT skills that someone needs are not always learned in the classroom, but through on-the-job training.

“They don’t have all the skill requirements.”

Don’t treat a job description like a checklist! You need to understand the essential job requirements that the candidate must have, and which ones you can train them to do.

“We don’t really know the full duties of the position.”

Jobs that are poorly defined, or that have no real job descriptions, can be very hard to fill. And employees in those roles can be set up for failure. Unless you can find a true jack of all trades (and don’t forget the rest of that saying, which is “master of none”), you’ll probably have a revolving door.

“Java Ninja can be a job title.”

Make sure that the job title accurately and professionally represents what the position entails. If you are trying to be clever, it may work against you and not people may not apply or you will get people who don’t fit the role.

“They seem over-qualified.”

Many people shy away from a resume with too much experience, assuming that an overqualified employee will be unhappy and leave their job quickly. Before you make that assumption, talk to the candidate!

“I want it all and I want it NOW!”

When you find a great candidate who is currently employed, it’s important to realize they need to give their current employer sufficient notice. You’d appreciate that if they were leaving your business. Don’t pass them up simply because you have to wait a couple of weeks. After all, you’ll hopefully have them in your business for a good long while.

The wrap-up:

If you see yourself, or your business, in any of these scenarios, it’s probably time to reassess what you’re doing. Be aware that while your job sits vacant, and is advertised week after week, great talent is getting quickly snapped up by your competitors. On top of that, active job seekers who see a job advertised endlessly begin wondering just what is wrong with the position or with your business and stay away.

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Never Have I Ever…

August 19th, 2014

Have you ever hired what you thought was the perfect candidate and then find out that person lied on their resume after it was too late? This is an ever-increasing trend that has been a major problem that many businesses face each day.

Hiring the wrong staff is one of the biggest challenges a start-up venture or really any company for that matter can face. A poll conducted by Harris Poll alongside CareerBuilder found that 60 percent of hiring managers have caught people lying on their resumes and it’s only getting worse. Ever since the recession in the United States, hiring managers have seen a substantial surge in the amount of people embellishing their resumes in order to stand out in the sea of competition.

Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, recommends if you want to enhance your skills, it is a better idea to embellish tangible examples from your professional experiences instead of lying on your resume and breaching the trust with the hiring manager from the very beginning.

common resume lies


industries most likely

Most Memorable Resume Lies:

  • Applicant claimed to be the assistant to the prime minister of a foreign country that doesn’t have a prime minister.
  • Applicant claimed to have 25 years of experience at age 32.
  • Applicant claimed to have been a construction supervisor. The interviewer learned the bulk of his experience was in the completion of a doghouse a few years prior.
  • Applicant applied twice for the same position and provided different work history on each application.

What are some of the most memorable lies you have encountered?

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Need to Hire an IT Project Manager?

August 12th, 2014

Hiring any position in the IT field can be challenging, especially if you are not as familiar what you should be exactly hiring for.Project Management Flow Chart Red Marker

Here are some quick tips to keep in mind for your next IT Project Manager hire:

IT Project Manager Credentials:

  • Because project managers’ responsibilities are both technical and organizational, employers may accept credentials from either domain.
  • Many organizations look for a certification such as Project Management Professional and some level of PMI or Six Sigma certification.
  • Some organizations seek candidates with a certification in Agile or SCRUM software development methodology.
  • In order to make sure candidates have proper credentials, working with a firm such as TopLine Strategies who is a well-established IT engineering firm has its advantage in that we are able to truly test for the required credentials.

IT Project Manager Skills & Experience:

  • Specification and planning of software development projects.
  • Tracking of project progress, change management and risk management.
  • Software development life cycle management.
  • Several years of project management experience, preferably in software development or IT infrastructure.
  • Significant experience facilitating communication among technologists and line-of-business managers.
  • Budgeting, cost control and risk management experience is desirable.

How to Source IT Project Managers:

  • Projects managers can be sourced through a variety of organizational affiliations.
  • Recent recipients of relevant certifications may be ready to change companies.
  • Using a firm, such as TopLine Strategies who has relationships with IT professionals, who are not accessible through websites such as the job boards, allows for you to obtain high-quality candidates.

How to Interview IT Project Managers:

  • Ask the candidate to address complex hypothetical scenarios that involve technical, organizational and interpersonal challenges.
  • Candidates should meet with the full range of prospective colleagues: managers, peers and reports. Be sure your staff knows how to conduct an interview.

Closing the Deal and Retaining IT Project Managers:

  • The challenges of project management vary widely from one company or IT department to another; sell the match of the candidate’s aspirations with the company’s business and company culture.
  • Directly address a concern of many project managers: a dearth of upward mobility.




Non-tech Skills Necessary to Succeed in IT

August 6th, 2014

IT has the lowest unemployment rate across the board and these workers possess some very difficult to find skills that are essential to helping businesses function properly. Although finding someone that possesses every technical skill you are looking for is very hard to do, you may want to consider hiring a candidate with less technical experience that you teach on the job. Many of the following technical skills experts believe that the skills below are what truly makes someone successful working in the IT field.one in crowd

Analytical skills
Analytical skills are crucial for IT professionals. Viewing multiple trends and problems while having the ability to cultivate a solution that solves more than one issue is a skill that is not easy to come by.

Compassion and understanding of the clients and end-users problems will allow for clarity of their problems. It also allows IT workers to take ownership of the problem and cultivate a clearly defined solution that is best for all parties involved.

Good communication is imperative to the success of IT projects and must be paid close attention to in emails, presentations, phone conversations, meetings, etc. Clear, open communication that allows for input from all parties involved will create a better environment for problem solving and in turn a better solution.

Being able to communicate the technical solutions to the not so technical users increases the chance your audience understand your solution to their problem. In turn, your ideas will be implemented, thus bringing in greater revenue for the organization.

Ability to listen
The ability to listen to the requirements and needs of clients aids in determining the best solution to accomplish goals. This will build trust and foster long-term relationships with exceptional results that exceed their expectations.

Business sense
IT professionals should possess soft skills that will help them stand out to potential clients. These will help them to better communicate ROI as well as how their skills and knowledge will contribute to the organizations overall goals. Furthermore, how their work will impact the bottom line goals.

While this is more of a mindset than a skill, an IT professional with an entrepreneurial perspective will help clients view problems as opportunities and transform opportunities into innovation.

Click here to view the original article.

8 High Paying Jobs with Happy Employees

July 29th, 2014

Can you truly have it all—a happy career and a large paycheck that comes with it? Many people don’t tend to think so, but recently, CareerBliss.com compiled a list of jobs that can make you happy and pay you well by analyzing more than 50,000 independent company reviews from 2013 and 2014.

The reviews are from employees all over the U.S. who evaluated 10 factors that affect work happiness on a five-point scale:

  1. One’s relationship with one’s boss
  2. One’s relationship with coworkers
  3. Workplace environment
  4. Job resources
  5. Compensation
  6. Growth opportunities
  7. Company culture
  8. Company reputation
  9. Daily tasks
  10. Job control over the work performed on a daily basis

Four out of the eight jobs just so happen to be in IT! See the list below:


To read the original article, click here.

IT Unemployment Rates by State: 2014

July 22nd, 2014

As we are now in the third quarter of 2014, the unemployment rate for technology professionals averaged 4.1 percent in Arizona and even lower in Colorado at 3.2 percent (last recorded in June 2014*).

In looking back to 2012 and 2013, the unemployment rate appears to be near the same average.

tech un1

Currently, the national unemployment rate is 6.1 percent (last recorded in June 2014**). The last time the unemployment rate for IT pros was above the national average—the first quarter of 2004.

Because the unemployment rate is lower for IT pros, utilizing a firm that specializes in IT staffing will allow for you to access to IT candidates that would not otherwise be available. Since TopLine Strategies is a well-established IT engineering firm, we have been fortunate to leverage our IT recruiting process, coupled with our many years as the Southwest’s leading systems integrator, to foster numerous relationships. With over 10,000 relationships built across the Southwest, combined with the expertise of our own team of senior engineers, allows us to source and direct candidates through a technical screening process. Many of these professionals are not available through standard job boards. This process verifies the candidates’ skill sets and acumen before you spend any of your valuable time interviewing. Our recruiting process ensures our placements are a solid cultural fit, skills exceed client requirements and that hiring risk is mitigated.



U.S. News & World Report Rankings Revealed: 100 Best Jobs of 2014

July 15th, 2014

U.S. News & World Report just revealed their ranking list of 100 Best Jobs. Which career took the top spot?Capture1

There is no surprise here that the top spot was awarded to: software developers.

Software developers have created so many things that we use in our everyday life. This includes any applications on your phone or computer like an alarm clock or any mobile apps you use to check your bank account or the games you play. Not only do software developers design these great programs, but they also have many other responsibilities, including testing and debugging the software and maintaining and improving it once it’s in operation. Software developers may be tasked with creating a product from scratch according to a customer’s specifications or modifying existing software, and they work in a range of industries, including computer systems design, electronic product manufacturing and finance.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 22.8 percent employment growth for software developers between 2012 and 2022, much faster than average for all occupations. During that time period, an estimated 139,900 jobs will need to be filled. The profession’s superb job prospects, low unemployment rate and excellent median salary helped it grab the coveted No. 1 spot in the ranking of the Best Jobs of 2014.

Read more by clicking here.

Infographic: Employees Overboard, Why They Jump Ship

July 9th, 2014

LinkedIn decided to ask job holders what factors would influence their decision to leave their current company. See their answers in the infographic below by clicking on the image to expand it.




































































To view the original source, click here.





How to Identify a True Superstar

July 1st, 2014

As an HR professional, you probably have a set of favorite questions that you always ask candidates, but what is the one question that really isn’t a question used to identify a Superstar Gold.true superstar for your company?

When looking for candidates, you want competitive personalities, so when you are in the interview, take a step back and say:

“It sounds like you have the right degree, the right background, and the right skills, but in our company every employee has those qualities. The problem is, I just don’t see that extra something in you that all of our people have. I’m sorry, but I just don’t think this is the right fit for you.”

Giving the candidate a few minutes to process this comment will cause one of two responses. The candidate could fold and say: “I’m sorry you feel that way, but thanks for the interview.” On the other hand, the candidate that you really want, will not fold. Instead, they will say: “I think you’re wrong. I’m here for a reason. Here’s what you’re not seeing.” They will not give up and as a superstar, they will rise to the challenge.

Qualified candidates can do the job when life is good. Superstar candidates can do the job when everything collapses around them because they have the hunger and the drive and the competitive spirit to not just compete…but to win. Next time, try this when you are not sure about a candidate, they may surprise you!

To view the original article, click here.


Secret to Hiring

June 24th, 2014

Tips and Tricks Chalk IllustrationFinding the perfect hire can bring constant stress into the workplace and the steps needed to ensure a great fit are hardly ever black and white. Losing one person on a team of ten can result in $100-300,000 in productivity loss, and takes about 8-12 weeks to replace a key domain knowledge holder plus another 36 months to bounce back to a fully operational staff.

In order to succeed in hiring, it is important to define the role clearly in advance. This will allow you to better communicate responsibilities and qualifications in the job description, find the right talent and stay focused on the important steps to ensure a great hire.

Use the following as a checklist to ensure you make your next new hire right the first time.

Why Am I Hiring? Why Now?

While you may be hiring to replace someone that left the company, the firm is expanding or to alleviate a gap in the teams skill set, often times companies spend substantial amounts of resources on a hire they don’t actually need. It is important to explicitly state the reasons you need to make this hire right now before it’s too late.

Determine the Details

Define the fundamental mission for this role. Explicitly stating the primary reason he or she is being hired and what is expected of them is imperative to their success.

At TopLine Strategies we help you evaluate, blend and enhance the job description. We do this by combining our client’s original job description with the industry standard job description to build and enhanced job description that is ready for posting.


Determine three to five key logically related responsibilities that fall under the umbrella of this roles mission. If you realize this new hire would be handling everything under the sun, you probably aren’t ready to hire and should set more realistic expectations of what one person can achieve.

Position Title

Once you have determined what responsibilities fall under this position, you can appropriately designate a job title. If the position has manager-level responsibilities, don’t downgrade the title because market value isn’t within your budget. A job title will remain on an individual’s resume for years to come and their title should accurately depict their role.


Focus on specific skills, background, expertise and accomplishments the new hire will need to be successful in the position. Avoid general representations such as an MBA and focus on specific needs relative to the position. Select which skills are essential to perform job duties and all others should be treated as bonus points in the interview process.


Will the person holding this position have access to mentors, team buy-in, software, etc.?  These are things that can sway someone’s decision whether or not the feel they have resources to be successful.


The most commonly overlooked element is determining who the role reports to, why they report to this person and how their success is determined.


Decide what you would ideally like to pay the new hire and what is the most you would be willing to pay for the candidate that has everything you are looking for. Knowing these numbers prior to interviewing will help alleviate confusion down the road and save time in the hiring process.

TopLine clients benefit from our three-column analysis. This is where we complete a twenty-point compensation analysis to review the candidates’ current compensation plan, industry compensation comparisons and the clients proposed package to ensure you are paying your new hire exactly what you should to ensure they stay with your company long-term.

Outreach Plan

What job boards will you promote the job to? Do you have any specific networks to reach out to and alert? Have you determined what search criteria you will use to find qualified candidates on LinkedIn and other job sites? What is the best way to find the most qualified candidates to hear about this position from a trusted source? All of these answers will determine the success of your outreach plan.

Not only does TopLine advertise our clients positions on job boards and social media, we promote through blog posts and by email campaigns to our private database of over 10,000 candidates we have accumulated over the years from staffing our own internal IT projects, many of whom aren’t actively looking for a new position.

Application System

ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software is a great investment that is used to organize resumes, rank candidates and keep all your hiring material in order. This will help avoid using a crowded inbox thus letting qualified candidates slip through the cracks.


When will you post the position and when is the deadline to receive applications by? When do interviews take place and what does the process entail? When are you looking to have this position filled by? Are there any additional details that need to be combed through?

Developing the foundation for your company’s hiring process will help you determine exactly what you are looking for in a candidate and you can tailor the job description to attract the right people. While these may seem like minute details they will help the hiring process run smoothly and allow your team to see how much it benefits the organization to make an excellent hire the first time.

TopLine Strategies nine step process encompasses all of the above guidelines and more. We are industry experts and our thorough recruiting process ensures our placements are a solid cultural fit, skills exceed client requirements, and that hiring risk is mitigated.

To view the original article click here.