SIIA New Member Interview: Technical Connections

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The SIIA is delighted to introduce one of the newest members to join SIIA’s Software & Services Division, Technical Connections. I had a chance to sit down with COO, Scott MacKinnon, to learn a little more about recruiting and staffing in a technological world. Please find my interview below.

Rhianna: Tell us about Technical Connections and what makes you unique.

Scott: Technical Connections (TCI) was established in 1984 and we have focused solely on supporting the technology community of Southern California.  Our extensive local network gives us a leg up on our competition, as does our dedication to our candidates and clients alike.  We understand the principle that their success is our success. 

Rhianna: What is your take on human interaction when it comes to job seeking and recruiting in a world where we are surrounded by so much technology and social media?

Scott: Over the past few years we have seen a number of automated / AI / Machine Learning platforms trying to take the human aspect out of the equation.  I do feel that a lot of the process can be automated, but there is an X-Factor that still requires a trained and caring professional to interpret.  Simply put, I don’t see how a piece of software can get around the concept that it takes people to connect people with people.  There is an authenticity to our business, as we want to see both our candidates and clients succeed, and I have not seen a system that has been able to synthesize that. 

Rhianna: What roles are the most difficult to recruit for within technology companies and why?

Scott: It’s funny, I don’t think it comes down to role as much as it does company culture and fit.  There are certain companies that want what they want and aren’t willing to budge on any of their requirements.  And there are others that recognize that there is an immediate need, and if a candidate is a close fit, they will give that person a shot.  Hiring teams that focus on finding the “perfect candidate” usually have the most difficult times for two reasons:  Firstly, they are probably losing time and money with interviewing a slew of candidates, trying to find the needle in the pile of needles; secondly, when they do find the “perfect candidate” they become horribly dismayed that the person can’t live up to their expectations or that the price tag is too high.  I suggest, if you are on the fence, bring that person on-board and see what he/she is capable of…you might be pleasantly surprised. 

Rhianna: Most technology companies state that hiring and retaining good talent is one of the top challenges they face today. What advice would you give companies to attract and retain talent?

Scott: A lot of companies have turned to the Kool-Aid model, where company culture is something that needs 100% buy-in.  Most technologists aren’t looking for Thursday night drinks, or company Olympics, but rather new challenges and career advancement.  Once an application or infrastructure is built it can have the nasty habit of turning into perpetual maintenance mode.  IT Professionals need to be engaged.  Many companies have come up with hack-days, where folks can work on ideas outside of company scope.  Training and certifications are also fantastic motivators.  Simply covering an employee’s trip to a tech conference will often garner loyalty. 

In regards to hiring, make sure that all parties are excited about each other; bringing someone on board who is excited about the company should overcome a minor lack in a certain skill set. Also, if a candidate needs $5K more in salary, or a few more days of vacation, or something else not critical, why not give it?  By giving a little more you will have a more indebted employee from Day 1 which will lead to stronger retention.   


Rhianna Rhianna Collier is VP for the Software Division at SIIA. Follow the Software team on Twitter at @SIIASoftware.