BT is trying to recruit people with rare IT skills by tracking them down to
specialist "chat rooms" on the Internet.
The company is gearing up for a second trial of software which allows it to
locate virtual forums visited by people with sought-after programming skills.
The firm will then trace the individuals through e-mail addresses.
"We are trying to translate what a headhunter does into the virtual
world," said Frank Douglas, manager of new wave solutions at BT UK’s
central personnel department.
"The most likely place to find someone with Java programming skills is
in a Java chat room where they can collaborate with 400 other Java experts.
"They can go in and pose questions, like ‘Does anyone know how to
de-bug this programme?’ That is a fertile recruiting ground."
A preliminary six-week trial was carried out in July 1998. Four people were
interviewed but no-one was taken on as they lacked the business skills BT was
"Technical forums may not be the place to find strategic candidates,
but we have learnt from that and next time will be using it to look for
software developers," said Douglas.
BT is particularly keen to find mobile phone and web design software
developers, who are in short supply.
"We and everyone else would love to get more people with these skills
than we need, but we can’t and that is why we are exploring alternative methods
No date has been set for the next trial.
They are also looking into holding a virtual jobs fair.
• BT has announced the loss of 3,000 managerial jobs – just weeks after
declaring "redundancy is a thing of the past".
Head of employee relations Charlie McKay told the Anuman conference last
month a policy of reskilling had virtually removed the need for redundancies.
A BT spokeswoman said McKay had been referring to non-managerial staff.
By Dominique Hammond