In Part 1, I discussed some of the challenges we face in hiring IT (information technology) personnel, a role which is becoming an increasingly common part of the medical practice. One of the major challenges is trying to validate the skillsets and credentials of a prospect. In Part 2, I present an action plan for finding a well-skilled IT employee who will be a good fit in your organization and help keep your network (or EMR system) up and running.
- Create a job description. Do you already have a good idea what this person will do for you? Great. If you don’t, get some assistance. You can either ask the Director of IT for a practice in your area or the local hospital to help you come up with a very specific job description. This should include the certifications required for the job (see Part 1) and the expected hours as well as duties – for some people, squeezing through crawlspaces to run network wire is a deal-breaker. You’ll also want to ask your expert what the expected range of salaries would be in your particular market, given your specified skillsets. Even in this economy, people in the IT industry with experience can command some decent pay.
- Post the ad. Do you live in a small town? Then you might want to think locally. It might be difficult to recruit someone away from a major metropolitan area and your salary offer might be less than they are accustomed to. Apart from placing the ad in your local newspaper, you should post it on a major job listing site like Monster.com. One advantage of using a site like that is that the resumes are stored in an electronic format which makes going through the information much easier (see number 3). It also makes it easier for potential candidates to search for the appropriate job.
- Start vetting the candidates. Rather than using a head-hunter (more on this later) we opted to go with a consultant, Mike Sellers of CVPSite.com, a credential-verification company. They offer a free service to employers that verifies the credentials claimed on the resume of a potential IT candidate (they charge the applicants a fee for going through their certification process, thereby giving them their seal of approval and making them more attractive a prospect). Based on our job description and some other specific criteria, Mike ran the resumes through their proprietary system to rate the candidates. He then took the top sixteen of these and interviewed them by phone in order to ascertain whether their listed qualifications were genuine – he could usually tell after just a few questions if the applicant truly had the experience and credentials that they listed. In one instance, the candidate gave up early and readily admitted that his credentials were bogus. When the process was complete, we were handed a spreadsheet with all of the applicants and their ratings on a multitude of specific criteria, ranked top to bottom, with the finalists clearly identified.
- Considering using predictive testing. Recent research is showing that personality or IQ tests are less predictive of an employee’s success in a particular job than what is known as conative testing. This describes a person’s modus operandi or M.O. – how are they likely to act in a particular situation. The most well-known of these is called Kolbe Testing. The practice administrator and/or direct supervisor of the applicant take one test to determine their own Kolbe ‘profile’, then take another test to determine the profile of the ideal employee. Last, the job applicants take another Kolbe test to see if they would be a good ‘fit’ for the practice. Obviously this should be just part of your overall assessment (we have just started using this tool, so the jury is still out). Another type of assessment tool to consider is Predictive Index testing from PI Worldwide .
- Final interviews. After going through the process above, you should have four to six finalists for your face-to-face interviews. Since your expert has already vetted their credentials and assessed their technical skillsets, your finalists are all on a level playing field. Now all you have to do is subject them to the same rigorous evaluation process as you do for any other (highly-compensated) employees and make sure that you feel that person is a good fit for your practice. You know they are highly skilled, but do they also have good people skills? It is critical for the person in this position to act as a liaison between the technical world and the real world. You might also want to consider involving a subordinate in the evaluation process – a person who works in the same technical field can have valuable input.
Why didn’t we just retain the services of a head-hunter like we do when hiring a medical associate? Like a listing agent in real estate, the head-hunter doesn’t necessarily represent the buyer – in this case, our practice. Their main job is to place their clients, the job applicant, i.e. the ‘seller’. Sure, their reputation is at stake and they want to make sure you are satisfied so they can count on you for more business. But they will make their fee, regardless of who is placed in your practice. And although most reputable head-hunter firms have some sort of guarantee if the prospect doesn’t work out, this is not something we wanted to waste a lot of time on. For this reason, and for reasons I listed above, we decided to go with a ‘broker’: an expert who performs a formal candidate analysis.