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In this blog we’re going to take a look at common criteria used to evaluate candidates, offering a fresh look at the keys to identifying really exceptional IT talent and also sharing some red flags. While it may be impossible to simply judge a candidate off of these criteria alone, they should offer good insight into identifying truly exceptional IT talent.

Here are a few areas to look at when evaluating IT talent as well as each topic’s associated red flags…people search

Longevity of Assignments. The length of time a candidate stays at an engagement should be your first indication into a candidates worth. There are exceptions, of course, but if you see on a candidates resume that they’re able to keep a position at a company for more than a year at a time, than that should be a pretty good indication that they’re worth it.

Red Flag: Conversely, if you see that over the course of a year that a candidate has held 3 or 4 jobs than that’s going to be an area you really want question them about. It could be that the engagements were only short term projects but it could mean something else entirely.

Relevant Industry Experience. All industries operate in different ways. When working on certain roles industry experience will usually be a required field. Not having industry experience doesn’t mean a candidate can’t perform the job requirements but it could mean there will be a certain amount of on the job learning required of them. Often times, in contract roles, this could be a deal breaker. So finding a candidate with the right skill set and industry background will usually result in an immediate interview request.

Red flag:  As pointed out above, not having relevant industry experience doesn’t mean a candidate can’t perform the job requirements it just means it could take them longer to get into the swing of things. Not all managers have the time and/or patience to teach them the ropes.

Strong Technical Screen Results. Good staffing firms will usually put their candidates through a technical screening process. Here at PSCI we use an outside company to test our candidates on the technical skills required for a position. This company offers an unbiased opinion on where the candidate does and does not need additional training. Strong test scores usually indicate how strong a candidate is in certain areas. At times, the results will come back with an Expert rating and that’s when we know we’ve found an exceptional candidate.

Red flag: Poor test scores. When a candidate claims to have over five years of on the job experience working in and with a particular skill but the screening process indicates there is much room for improvement.

Degree and Certifications. These are areas that will often times be overlooked when assessing a candidate. However, if you’re able to find a candidate with a relevant collegiate degree (such as a Computer Science major) as well as relevant industry certifications (PMP certifications for a Project Manager) than you know you’ve found someone with the correct knowledge base. You also know you’ve found someone with the passion for the position. If they have the schooling and have taken the extra time to get themselves certified, they more than likely have the passion for the role.

Red flag: No relevant schooling or certifications. If they don’t have either than they’re most likely not a fit. However, if they have the certifications than they’re definitely worth a deeper look – not everyone is fortunate enough to know their desired career path while still in college.

Ability to Present Themselves.  In terms of physical appearance, this is something that’s impossible to tell through email or over the phone. However, candidates also present themselves through verbal and written communication and this is where you can detect the good from the bad. Throughout the screening process, you’ll exchange emails and have numerous phone conversations. Here, you’ll be able to detect whether the candidate has the proper communication skills needed in order to place them in front of the client.

Red flag: If the candidates resume or email communication is riddled with grammar mistakes than that’s someone you know either lacks the ability or doesn’t take the time to present themselves in a professional manner. Poor verbal communication is also a dead giveaway.

So these are some of the ways you can spot a stellar IT candidate and some of the red flags that are associated with each criterion. What other ways can you identify IT superstars?

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at

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