Kseniia Stolbova: “In IT recruiting, those who study and work with thrill are successful”

What aspects of IT education should be taken into account to make time and money a worthwhile investment rather than an annoying expense? What skills do you need to master to be competitive? How to build a career that will be envied?

We are talking about IT training for recruiters and the challenges that await them in 2024 with Kseniia Stolbova, CEO of DAN.IT education, an international training center for IT specialists.

  • Kseniia, it is interesting to learn about the trends that will affect both training and career of an IT recruiter in general

One of the key trends of 2024 (and not only in Ukraine) is the massive demand of employers to return employees to the office. After all, remote work is also a skill, and not everyone has it. Employers expect new employees to come to the office. At the same time, 98% of all candidates want to work remotely at least a few times a week. Both sides have to find a balance. This also applies to IT recruiters, so you should be prepared for this – both psychologically and organizationally.

  • In the context of changes, what recruiter skills will remain unchanged?

Most people believe that the core skill of a recruiter is communication, but I believe that the main thing is organization and planning of work. Because you can have excellent communication skills but not manage the recruitment process. It requires compliance with clear rules on the one hand, and deadlines on the other. The recruiter shall analyze the situation all the time, understand whether they need to use additional search tools, whether they have enough candidates at each stage, what qualifications they have and how they compare to the job profile, what the recruiting funnel looks like, etc. It is about a clear understanding of the sequence of actions, understanding their “indicators”, and the ability to respond in a timely manner. And there is much more to recruiting than communication.

  • But with regard to communication, do the requirements for this skill change?

Communication differs at certain stages. Written communication is one skill, oral is another. Screening, stress or competency-based interviews are completely different skills. And a person who, although not having perfect communication skills, clearly knows the process, has an interview plan with a list of questions, the ability to evaluate and compare candidates thanks to, for example, high-quality templates (they spent 5 hours writing them in advance!), can cope with this task better.

I know many examples where a person who is talented in a certain area does not always achieve the same results as a person who is focused, disciplined, and stubborn. While developing communication skills, an IT recruiter should also learn to manage emotions and master self-presentation techniques, which is and will be necessary.

  • How should a recruiter start his or her journey in IT?

To begin with, you need to give yourself an honest answer – do I really want to go into this profession? After all, learning any business is an investment of both time and money. This investment will require at least six months of retraining and intensive training. You need to weigh everything carefully.

I recommend attending several specialized events, talking to experts, and then making a decision. It is a pity that many people find a disappointing answer when the investment has turned into a total waste of both time and money. That is why you should not rush.

If there is a solution, then the goal setting should be thorough. Start actively familiarizing yourself with the domain area. Recruiting in IT is very different from the classical one – tools, approaches, ways of communication, stages, etc.

I often see that recruiters are too lazy to read about their areas of expertise. Life hack: make it a point to open, for example, DOU, every day and read about one IT specialty.

You need to know your field well, to be able to get used to it – this forms hard skills. At DAN IT, we directly immerse our students into the field, review technologies, arrange meetings with specialists, and always with practical training. It is very important that an IT recruiter understands that they are hiring not just a specialist, but a part of a team that shall function properly.

  • What knowledge is the basis for an IT recruiter?

In my opinion, recruiters are a very underrated category of specialists. Especially given the stereotypes that exist in IT: “Well, these are girls, humanities…”. In fact, this is not true at all, because the number of analytical skills and tools that an IT recruiter shall have can compete with other professions in the industry.

Just like a generalist, an IT recruiter shall be able to brief a customer, collect and analyze large amounts of information, know the algorithms for working with a vacancy, effectively interact with candidates, and so on. And this list includes a lot of specifics.

For example, you need to distinguish between IT areas, understand the peculiarities of working in different types of IT companies and who their teams consist of, what questions to ask the customer to get a coherent  picture of the project, what are the nuances of creating vacancies on different platforms, search resources and what are the specifics of their use (Djinni, Dou, GitHub and StackOverflow, telegram, Kaggle), how to communicate with candidates wisely and analyze their profiles, develop a strategy for interviews and negotiations… The list goes on and on, and it will still be only a small part of the knowledge that an IT recruiter shall master.

It is also good when a mentor or teacher teaches not only “how it should be” but also “how it should not be” – that is, warns about mistakes, difficulties, and risks.

  • Will the IT recruiting profession change?

Advanced employers are trying to make sure that a person has the opportunity to develop both vertically – deep into their specifics, and horizontally – to master other functionality. There is a trend: professions in the IT field are changing horizontally. For example, designers are increasingly creating websites on their own using available design tools. Programmers are increasingly taking on certain DevOps tasks. That is, they are using partially borrowed tools. The same is true for IT recruiters. Let’s take SMM as an example. In a “rolled-up” form, the course takes a month to complete, but the recruiter gets additional value in the market. Any additional skills that distinguish him among candidates make him more competitive in the market.

  • For example, what else could it be?

One of the trends is recruitment marketing with an emphasis on digital approaches. It concerns the promotion of both the company’s HR brand in general and vacancies in particular – through SMM, targeted advertising, SEO tools, etc. It will be nice if the IT recruiter knows how it all works to attract the attention of candidates. Copywriting skills will also be needed for a good and accurate description of the vacancy, the correct accents.

Another trend that will be felt by many in 2024 is that there are fewer and fewer specialists with a good level of English in Ukraine. This will be a year of intensive investment in its learning by both candidates and companies.

IT recruiters are more likely than others to work with candidates and companies from different countries, read and analyze resumes, and conduct interviews in English. That is why you need to learn it.

It is good to know the basics of data analytics and at least be proficient in Excel. Of course, there are different applications, but very often, when we start to combine information from different sources, we still use Excel. And the recruiter should know how to process this data quickly – not with a calculator, but with formulas, plus make a good visualization of it. If a recruiter knows how to present his or her work convincingly, then he or she has an advantage over competitors.

  • And how can automation and software strengthen an IT recruiter?

In the context of automation and its tools, we are now talking more about a data-driven approach to recruiting, a way to make decisions based on big data to strengthen recruiting functions. Automation makes the recruiter’s work more analytical and statistically sound. For example, “getting” a quality candidate can be mathematically “calculated” – alternatively, by analyzing the number of resumes received. This and many other data can be used to build a recruiting strategy or plan. Therefore, you should be able to work with professional software.

  • Developing your own brand, networking – where to start?

With a simple ☺. For example, by building a network on LinkedIn. This is a perfect option for professional networking when starting out in IT. Life hack: set a goal to send a connection request to 30 people a day. Use a filter to select those who may be of interest to you. About one third of them accept your request, and the average daily increase is 5-10 contacts. You need to build it up step by step. It is a regular exercise. Like brushing your teeth, for example. We do not analyze much, we do not sell anything. Organic growth will follow, and people will start knocking on your door. The same goes for technology – take a little time every day to read a little. Remember: step by step.

  • What should an IT recruiter pay special attention to when interacting with a candidate?

This is ethics. This is also a trendy issue. Why? For example, we have a very small market, few vacancies, and few candidates. The recruiter works on a one-to-one basis with everyone. What happens when the market grows sharply? Everything is accelerating. The processes that worked well stop working. Let’s be honest: there are “untrained” recruiters looking for candidates, and “half-trained” candidates. At the moment of growth, chaos reigns, rules cease to apply, and we lose what is called the ethics of interaction. Recruiters do not respect candidates, candidates are aggressive towards recruiters…

In addition, online interaction creates a certain level of depersonalization. Everyone feels irresponsible, and this destroys relationships, constructiveness, and results. Therefore, ethics is a very important aspect of a recruiter’s activity, which will be emphasized in the coming periods, and our graduates work with this. The result is when candidates note that you communicate with them differently than others. And the response rate becomes much higher. It is all about standards and ethics.

  • You mentioned graduates. Could you tell us about their successful cases?

Our recruitment graduates have a lot of great employment stories. I would summarize them with the word IMMEDIATELY. One of our graduates immediately went to the position of a mid-level recruiter after graduation, jumping over the junior status.

Another graduate of ours started and immediately received a salary of $1000, which is an outstanding result for a newbie.

Several of our recruiting graduates immediately found jobs in HR in an IT company after graduation – their level of knowledge was sufficient for this.

Another point is that after our students’ internships, some reputable companies revised their recruitment procedures. Again, based on the knowledge and information that our students brought and applied. I think it is cool.

And yes, it is the graduates who form the brand and reputation of a particular educational service provider. Looking for a place to study? Look at what our graduates can and do.

  • What is the career driver of an enviable IT recruiter?

Such a recruiter should have not only skills, but also a vision – of the industry, their place in it, and the people they hire. Because real job satisfaction comes when you feel confident, in your place, and have achievements. You want to learn, to get more skills. More skills means more career development. You need to understand that rapid growth and high rewards in IT are due to a high interest in your work and thrill. There are no people in IT who are indifferent to their work – indifference does not allow you to advance in IT. If you are not eager, there will be no result. If there is no result, you will not work in this industry. Somehow it is all interconnected ☺.

The CleverStaff team sincerely thanks Kseniia for the conversation and wishes even more cool graduates!