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If need is driving all of your recruiting decisions, you may be compromising.

We’re in a tricky situation with hiring tech talent today. You know you’re going to need to bring tech talent onboard, but you don’t always know exactly when or exactly how much of it. With unemployment hitting a 50-year low at 3.5%, and tech unemployment even lower at 2.4%, the talent pool is already shallow. So, when we’re ready to hire, it often feels like slim pickings.

This news comes as no surprise, as we are all aware of current tech talent supply and demand. Open tech job postings in the U.S. were up 32% year-over-year for January –June, practically every non-tech company is recruiting for tech talent, and the struggle is now geographically indifferent with more tech professionals starting to leave Silicon Valley. Despite our knowledge of the situation, though, most of us don’t have an ongoing recruiting strategy to manage to these challenges. Instead, we wait until the need arises and then start the hiring process, hoping for the best. This approach often leads to knee-jerk decisions, bad hires and the inability to fill a position altogether.

Spontaneity isn’t always a good thing

So why do most of us wait until we have a talent need to fill? After all, necessity is the mother of invention, and need often changes behavior for the better. But if need is driving all your recruiting decisions, you may be compromising.

As a tech leader, you’re right if you’re thinking you don’t have a lot of time to look. Rely on those around you to help cultivate a qualified talent pool.

Know the types of skills your company needs, and then see what kind of talent is out there. You already know the projects in the pipeline. There are likely several skill sets that you know you’ll need, regardless of the project that gets green-lighted next. Make a note of any more specialized skill sets found in proposals or projects you know will be kicking off soon.

To keep you connected to these talent needs, block off one hour every few weeks for pipeline building and recruitment strategy, and rally your team to help. Set calendar meetings and stick to them. Yes, you can spend the time reviewing candidates on your own, but you can also make it a group meeting to hold you accountable. I’ve found that very few teams set aside time for manpower planning. It doesn’t have to be anything formal. Discussions should include who people know that can help recruit certain skill sets, what relationships they have with outside tech resources, and who they can identify as an asset to the project. Encourage conversations about the challenges they’re experiencing finding talent and share success stories of when qualified talent was identified in the past.

All team members should be keeping an eye out on LinkedIn, at industry conferences and networking events, taking note of potential candidates. Even unsolicited resumes warrant an initial vet and can be easily filed until the need arises. Everyone is a talent scout, so engage your whole team in the recruitment process. It’s a to-do for the c-suite as well as every member of the project team.

You can also work with a recruiting partner whose job it is to continually keep talent in front of you, even when you’re not actively hiring. Regardless of how you build your database and network of candidates, the most important thing is to have one. Get into the mindset of always being aware of what talent is out there and keep up with it. Fill your pipeline so you’re ready to move when the time comes.

The best doesn’t always come to those who wait

For those who delay, when hiring finally does take precedence, it becomes a problem and not just a priority. Along with the inefficiencies of haphazard scrambling to find talent, it may also mean paying higher rates or salaries for the talent you really need or hiring a candidate who doesn’t check all of your boxes.

Put in place a proactive, ongoing hiring strategy before you have the need to make your next hire. With a plan, you mitigate risks and can move quickly. Those who have a strategy will have better options and make better hiring decisions. Preparing to acquire talent can truly tip the scales for success.

How to avoid a knee- jerk hiring strategy originally appeared on