Winter 2018 Strategic IT Partner Forum – Outcomes – The Partner Recruitment Challenge


On Thursday 22nd of November our seventh Strategic IT Partner forum (previously known as the IT BRM/IT BP forum) took place near Heathrow.  In our opinion the content of the day was our best yet and offered those in the IT Partnering community an opportunity to network and attend various talks.

One of the afternoon workshops was hosted by our Director, James O’Driscoll.  The session was an interactive workshop which had three key objectives:

  • Identify what are the key recruitment challenges for the community in attracting and selecting strong IT BRMs/IT BPs.
  • Discuss what’s worked in the past or could work in the future that may help overcome these challenges.
  • Start to formalise best practise in this area.


Key Challenges

  • Role descriptions too generic.
  • Finding the right mix of skills (business knowledge, understanding of technology, relationship behaviours, strategic outlook)
  • Getting those to apply who have the required soft skills/behaviours
  • Salary too low
  • Role not senior enough
  • Unclear job title
  • Role misunderstood
  • Restrictive internal processes
  • Location
  • Unattractive industry sector
  • Perception of the role can scare off internal applicants
  • Having found the right candidate – getting them to interview
  • Poorly performing recruitment agencies/internal recruitment functions

What has worked in the past

  • Changed the job title to one recognised in the IT BRM/IT BP community
  • Ensured the benefits/working arrangements/scope of role were clear from the very start of the recruitment process
  • Looked internally
  • Ensured they sold the company and the role to include: Career path, Training opportunities, Scope of role, Successes of previous hires, Specific details of projects
  • Setting clear expectations.   Ensured the candidate is aware of factors such as the planned recruitment process, challenges they’d encounter within the role, amount of travel etc. This managed out those who are unwilling or unable to fulfil such expectations.
  • Ensured the salary range is market rate

Being creative

  • Utilise networking events, open days and recruitment fairs
  • Use recruitment sites/search firms that specifically operate within the IT BRM/IT BP space
  • To encourage those with the right soft skills and business knowledge to apply, drop the technology focus of the role in the job description (both in terms of duties and responsibilities and skills required)
  • Ensure the required personal skills/behaviours are at the top of the job description to make it clear this is the focus
  • At application stage, ask candidates to give examples where they’ve met four or five key tasks that are specifically relevant to the role you’re recruiting. This would replace a CV being submitted
  • To help identify less obvious internal potential, frameworks such a SIFA were suggested
  • Build your band (both in terms of the company and specific function)
  • Appeal to more diverse groups
  • Ensure the hiring manager owns the recruitment process and it is one of their key focuses, not an afterthought
  • Promote flexible working
  • Push for internal referrals
  • Consider apprenticeships and/or graduate schemes
  • Remember it is a two-way process. It is just as much about the candidate finding out about you as it is you finding out about the candidate


Key Challenges

  • Length of recruitment process
  • Number of applications (too many/too few)
  • Recruitment process too generic for the specific nuances of recruiting an IT BRM/IT BP
  • Poor candidate experience
  • Recruitment agencies/internal recruitment functions not understanding the role
  • Hard to establish if the candidate has the right soft skills/behaviours in an interview
  • Unsure where to compromise
  • Salary expectations don’t match

What has worked in the past

  • Utilised competency based questions relevant and specific to the role, which could include: Ambiguity, Communication, Taking ownership, Accountability, Business outcome focused, Initiative, Relationship management, Strategic focus
  • Utilised more of an assessment style interview which allowed the company to get a better understanding of how the candidate would operate in a real world situation, rather than their ability to answer competency style questions
  • Undertook an exercise based interview (first 100 days in role)
  • Implemented a more flexible interview process including the use of video for the 1st stage
  • Ensured the CIO was part of the interview process

Being creative

  • Ensure shareholder behaviours are taken into account when devising the recruitment process
  • Ensure the process is reviewed before each recruitment campaign starts.  Focus on the requirements for this hire and don’t presume what worked last time will work again
  • Utilise relevant competency models such as Baxter Thompson Associates (
  • Profile your best employees as a benchmark for selection
  • Ensure business stakeholders are involved in the recruitment process both in terms of defining the role and interviews
  • Have a clearly defined salary range from the very start
  • Have one contact point per candidate throughout the process for continuity
  • Use internal staff to mock a realistic work situation
  • Devise a practical assessment to test the strength of the required behaviours
  • Streamline the selection process, perhaps into one stage and reduce the paperwork
  • Remember Pareto’s law.   Unless you are very lucky you won’t find the perfect match.  Instead be clear on the 80% you need for this hire and focus on that.  The other 20% is a bonus.