Recruiter Offers Different Path for IT Internships

Written by: Angus Loten

Published in: WSJ.com

Genuent’s Talent Path finds new tech workers and farms them out on consultant contracts, typically for less than it would cost to hire an intern outright

Information-technology staffing firm Genuent LLC is taking an unusual approach to helping employers snatch up young technology workers as competition for tech talent heats up.

Talent Path, a division of the Houston, Texas-based recruiter, hires recent college graduates, among others, and places them as technology consultants at companies under three- to twelve-month contracts. The program was launched about two years ago.

The consultants are paid by Talent Path—benefits included—during their contracts. Rather than wages, companies pay a fee to take part in the program. Typically, the fee is lower than the cost of hiring an intern, Talent Path said.

When the contracts expire, the host companies have first dibs on hiring the consultants as full-time employees.

The model is meant to provide added credentials for young IT job seekers who often lack on-the-job experience, especially in the area of emerging tools such as artificial intelligence or robotic process automation, said Talent Path Chief Executive Jeffrey Frey.

The program reduces companies’ risk of getting stuck with an ill-suited intern by screening and training candidates before they land on the job, Mr. Frey said.

“We’re doing all the assessments beforehand to make sure they get the right people,” Mr. Frey said.

All prospective consultants go through a 12-week career-development program, among other training initiatives, before being paired with a potential employer.

Talent Path typically selects about a half dozen participants to be interviewed by a given employer.

Since Talent Path began about two years ago, it has had 100 participants, of whom 90 are currently in the program. Of those, 60 are on contracts as consultants. In addition to recent graduates, they include military veterans and job changers, among others.

Five participants have been hired for full-time jobs.

Enertia Software, a Midland, Texas-based software maker for the oil-and-gas industry, has hosted 10 Talent Path consultants over the past two years, said Vince Dawkins, the company’s president.

It is now making hiring decisions, he said.

“We’re a 25-year-old company going through a major shift in some of our products and services, so were looking for younger workers to help with that,” Mr. Dawkins said.

Among other tasks, the company has used Talent Path consultants to compile and analyze industrial data for oil fields and other customers, he said, adding that part of the job is learning to communicate with clients to understand their needs.

Services like Talent Path, beyond providing workers with tech skills, are able to match a job candidate with a company’s culture, Mr. Dawkins said.

“We’re a software company and some of our culture can be quirky,” Mr. Dawkins said. “It’s not your typical white-collar office.” He said it was a big advantage to give potential workers a trial run to ensure they’re a good fit.

Talent Path is part of an emerging trend among employers and staffing firms to expand recruiting efforts for entry-level technology workers as they grapple with a tight labor market. In a survey last year by staffing firm Robert Half International Inc., more than 80% of 2,800 U.S. employers said finding tech talent is one of their biggest business challenges.

Other efforts include building talent pipelines with colleges and universities, where younger job seekers can be groomed by employers for specific tech needs.

A growing reliance on software by companies across the economy is boosting demand for tech talent. Research firm Gartner Inc. expects global spending on IT to reach $3.9 trillion this year, up 3.4% from 2019.

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