As all managers know, hiring the right people is not easy, and at the same time a very crucial process for the success of an organization. The more complex, fast changing and technologically advanced the world becomes, the more important it becomes to find the right people for the right jobs. This is in particular true for IT-personnel. In fact, in most African countries, businesses are inclined to contract IT-companies from the US or India to come and do the job as soon as things start to become risky. They are not sure they can find the right staff in their own country.
But that is not necessarily the best decision.
For example in the Netherlands, the Dutch central government has a long track record of failed ICT projects and programs. Most of them were carried out by large IT companies with a good reputation, capable to deliver large amounts of IT personnel of different kinds. Many of these projects failed, often leading to enormous losses of tax payer’s money. The conclusion of the Dutch parliament was, that ministries should start to recruit and train their own IT-professionals and IT-managers, rather than depending on these large companies, who often abused these expensive projects to cash big while using the government as the training grounds for their youngest employees.
Recently the Dutch central government decided to start a new agency, the “Government ICT Guild” It is a training program as well as a pool of highly qualified IT professionals, that can be hired to execute IT projects of all kinds for the Dutch government.
Recently, a director of Accra based training center Maxim Nyansa IT-Solutions, met with Mr. Mo Jaber, the founder of the agency, to exchange experiences. Both organizations have an elaborate selection process, where practical skills are tested as well as knowledge of IT. Mr. Jaber stated: “We have even taken the technical selection process a step further. We had an assessment developed especially for us by the Software Improvement Group (SIG, Amsterdam) to evaluate the quality of someone’s code.” Still, the vast majority of candidates are turned down by the Government ICT Guild for other reasons than the quality of their technical skills.
During the meeting, Mr. Jaber then lifted his hand and said, pointing at the five fingers: “I have come to the conclusion that there are five criteria to hire a good IT professional: attitude, attitude, attitude, attitude, and finally technical skills.” In most cases, the technical skills can be learned. Or, as we experience, some candidates are extremely intelligent, and will be capable to do their work in only a fraction of the time of an ordinary professional. But if the person does not have the right attitude, hiring him can still turn out disastrous.
Young graduates in Ghana often wonder how they can become attractive in the job market in this country. A master degree from the US, India or China is the magic word, but hard to get for most… But looking at the conclusion of the Dutch ICT Guild, this may not be the issue. Of course, recruiters should ask their candidates if they have been investing in personal development. There are young Ghanaians who are studying day and night online with free resources like Coursera. They show much more than technical knowledge. They show eagerness to continue to learn and meet the international standards of the industry, today, and in the future. In IT, lifelong learning is inevitable. Doing it is showing the right attitude.
So what other attitudes should you look out for?
Beyond any doubt, reliability is the number one. Reliability implies being a person of integrity. A reliable person will always tell you the truth, is transparent about his intentions, and normally does what he has promised.
Goal-orientation is also very important. A purposeful person has a clear goal in mind and will always tune his actions to deliver the product that you want, working hard to get things done.
Finally, time management is key. In the international job market, being on time for appointments and meeting deadlines are the norm. In the Ghana of 2018, this should no longer be an issue.
Mr. Mo Jaber of the ICT Guild in the Netherlands is expecting to build an inspiring new agency, and be an attractive employer for talented young people. Hiring IT professionals in this way, he is probably going to succeed. Smart young graduates with the right attitude will just love to work there.
Author: Diana van der Stelt, Trinity Software Center Kumasi (member: Institute of ICT professionals Ghana and managing board member at Maxim Nyansa IT Solutions).
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