What are IT consultants looking for when it comes to project work? How do they want to engage with clients and collaborate with others? What makes a company or role a great or not-so-great fit for them?
Before you bring on any more tech talent this year, read on for insight into how to attract consultants and create a positive experience for them.
Red flags: What are the top reasons IT consultants turn down a client or project?
There are always telltale signs that something isn’t going to work out. It’s true in life, and it certainly applies to employment in the tech sector as well. What do IT consultants feel is the biggest red flag when it comes to predicting project success?
Lack of communication
Far and away, the number one reason why IT consultants shy away from particular projects or employers was a lack of communication. Experienced IT professionals know what it will take for them to be successful, and time and time again, a lack of communication throws them off course.
“Lack of communication and lack of clarity from the manager. When I sense that, it signals to me that maybe this isn’t the best project to take on.” - Adnan, Server Analyst
“If a client isn’t available for communication during a project, having an opportunity to ask questions allows the individual to have clarity on all aspects of a project–from concept to implementation–and are necessary for projects to succeed.” - Justin, Solution Architect
Unclear or unrealistic expectations
The second red flag that our tech industry consultants all had in common was unclear or unrealistic expectations. It’s so important that managers and consultants are on the same page about what the deliverable is, and what support an individual will have to achieve it.
“Lack of transparency. In the past I’ve felt like I’ve ended up doing something other than what I had expected.” - Samir, Sr. Program Manager
“Unreasonable exceptions to deliver without the necessary support.” - Deepak, Sr. Project Manager
“It can be a challenge to gauge red flags from a job posting itself, but if there are statements such as ‘must be willing to pull up sleeves and do whatever it takes’ or if a candidate is asked to have the skills of 3-5 different positions, those are red flags as no one is superman/woman.” - Aasim, Sr. Business Analyst
One might argue that this particular red flag is somewhat temporary. Changing expectations could be due to the fact that many businesses are in a state of flux right now given the uncertain economy, pace of digital change, and lack of available talent. Then again, the talent shortage and skills gap is decidedly here to stay. IT leaders will need to ensure consultants have clear deliverables and resources to complete them.
Do tech workers prefer a remote, in-person, or hybrid environment?
Our IT consultants were all in agreement that a hybrid work arrangement offers the best of both work worlds. They each explained that they see collaboration as a key to their success, and there’s just no replacement for facetime when it comes to fostering relationships and trust.
“I prefer to work 1-2 days in the office to keep socializing with my teammates. The information that comes from impromptu discussions is essential for forming cohesive teams.” - Eugene, Software Development Consultant
“I don’t think 100% remote is a successful formula for long-term success. A voice on a phone or image on a screen doesn’t foster that ‘thing’ that truly successful collaborations need. And it is detrimental for retention.” - Justin, Solution Architect
“I prefer a hybrid model where I can reap the benefits of collaborating in person as well as the focus time provided by remote work.” - Deepak, Sr. Project Manager
With companies now starting to demand that workers return to the office with more frequency or fully, it will be interesting to see how employees and contractors alike will respond. In a survey conducted in 2022, 80% of Canadian workers shared that they’d look for a new full-time job if asked to return to the office five days a week.
What can clients do to improve the IT consultant experience?
It’s great to know what you might be doing wrong when engaging with IT consultants, but it’s equally important to understand how to stand out in a GOOD way. Especially when talent is in such high demand.
Consultants want to start off on the right foot, so ensure they’re fully prepared to hit the ground running–and contribute to your projects right from the start.
“When employers have a great onboarding mindset right from the interview phase to the fully onboarded phase, and train me on specific aspects needed for the role, that would accelerate my success.” - Deepak, Sr. Project Manager
“Clients can improve my experience as an IT consultant by providing me with the right tools and training to learn its ethical policies and standards and master its business and operating environment.” - Chris, Sr. Technical Writer
A key piece of advice? Don’t leave them out of your feedback loop. Conducting informal contractor performance reviews can be a win-win: improving the performance of your consultants' work while offering them an opportunity to improve. Turns out many of them appreciate when employers take the time to help them with feedback.
“I think you will hear many consultants say that consistent feedback really helps us improve and uplifts the quality of work we do. We like hearing what we can do better or if everything is going well.” - Al, Senior Agile Coach
“Provide constructive feedback. I’m always looking to improve the quality of deliverables and have a continuous improvement/growth mindset.” - Aasim, Sr. Business Analyst
There you have it. In today’s tight labor market, it’s important to do everything you can to attract and retain in-demand IT consultants. And, S.i. Systems can help connect you with them, from software engineers to data scientists and every role in between.