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The number of skilled IT staff available has fallen over the past year as major public sector schemes such as the IT-led modernisation of the NHS soak up available people, according to IT recruitment firm Parity.
"That is putting a strain on the sector," said Jeff Brooks, resourcing services director at Parity and chairman of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation's IT and communications division.
"There is a war for talent going on. Employers have to adapt their ways of working. There is a need to showcase your company a lot better. It is a two-way street. You are selling to the candidates just as much as they are selling to you."
Brooks said that over the past few years there has been a surfeit of skills in the IT sector, and this has translated into companies not making much effort to promote themselves to potential recruits.
Interviewers might see a candidate they like but decide to see four or five others before making an offer. However, they risk losing out if the original candidate is not sufficiently impressed with the company, Brooks warned.
Firms that fail to adopt new techniques risk alienating talented candidates, said Brooks. They are also sending out a poor image of their company.
"Act well towards the candidate even if you do not feel they are suitable. That is a positive message in the marketplace. Candidates talk to other candidates and to other employed people," said Brooks. Offering feedback and career pointers to candidates also helps make a good impression, he added.
Hiring managers should pay attention to the "softer things" that are often crucial to first impressions such as not keeping candidates waiting, offering coffee and introducing them to people in the office so they can get a feel for the company's culture and atmosphere, Brooks said.