SFIA Applications: Recruitment

Andy Andrews

(SFIA: Skills Framework for the Information Age)

One of the most expensive mistakes any business can make is hiring the wrong person. The time and effort in the recruitment process; agency fees; the investment in on-boarding; the disruption caused to the team/business of a ‘wrong hire’; the potential loss of a better alternative; the cost of
‘letting someone go’; the cost of starting again, I could go on … (Check out https://www.inc.com/john-brandon/real-cost-hiring-wrong-employee.html).

Can SFIA really help with recruitment? Well before answering let’s make it clear that SFIA alone is not the answer. SFIA defines the IT skills required by an IT professional to be successful but at Lexonis we have long advocated the need to identify and hire for behavioural competencies as well as technical ones. In fact, many would argue that behavioural competencies are far more critical as they are far more difficult – if at all possible – to develop than technical skills (a blog post for another time perhaps!)

However, SFIA can certainly help with recruitment and below is a summary of how it can help. It’s not exhaustive, but it’s a start:

  • SFIA and specifically SFIA assessment tools can be used to determine which skills are needed in the first place. Does the organisation really have a skill gap or is the real problem that the organisation just doesn’t know enough about its skill requirements?
  • Does the business really have a need to hire external people or are their suitable internal candidates? Using SFIA and a skills management approach, it should be possible to compare the cost of developing vs. hiring. Furthermore, how demoralising for an employee to feel that they are being overlooked when they already have the relevant skills that the organisation is looking to hire or that could be cost-effectively developed!
  • SFIA clearly articulates the skills and levels that people need in order to be successful; the skills are well defined,
    consistent and the level descriptors are expressed as action verb statements that are conducive to evidence-based assessment e.g. consider one of the indicators for Business Analysis are level 4. “Investigates operational requirements, problems, and opportunities…”
  • SFIA provides a common dictionary of what ‘good looks like’; in other words, the business, the HR recruiter, the recruitment agency, the interviewer and the applicant use exactly the same language when referring to a skill. Furthermore, there is now an increasing trend for IT organisations to use SFIA to match candidates to positions.
  • Whereas traditional job descriptions can be ambiguous, versions that include SFIA-based skills profiles are far more effective for specifying the skill and skill level required for a particular job. Note that increasingly more public sector organisations and recruitment agencies are using SFIA-based job descriptions and advertisements.
  • How do you know how much you should be paying your potential IT recruits? By providing a common definition of skills and also generic levels that indicate degrees of responsibility (see Autonomy and Influence), SFIA provides an excellent foundation to undertake a job salary/grading exercise.

Once again, the list is not exhaustive but these are some of the key areas that we have identified here at Lexonis.

As already noted, a wrong IT hire can be an extremely expensive exercise – depending on the size of the business potentially a disastrous one. Take every advantage of SFIA to improve the odds in your favour!

You may also be interested in reading the following article from Talent Management http://talentmgt.com/articles/view/when-hiring-know-more-guess-less.

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