The reality is that finding and hiring great tech talent is tough and due to get tougher!

The reality is that finding and hiring great tech talent is tough and due to get tougher!

20 Dec 11:00 by Jane Abbott


For many CTOs and those responsible for hiring technical staff it's proving very difficult - especially so for start-ups or SMEs. So I wanted to write this blog to give you a bit of a reality check on the technology jobs market, let you know you are not alone in this struggle and give you some pointers to help improve your chances of getting the people you need.

For companies hiring directly and technology recruitment companies alike, the whole hiring process is taking longer, costing more and in the worst case scenario, not ending in a successful hire. The reason is simply that demand for technical staff is way outstripping the supply – there just aren’t enough people out there to do all the jobs we need them to do! Computer Weekly Salary Survey 2017/18 for UK and Ireland estimates that by 2020 – in just two years! – there will be 800,000 unfilled IT jobs. It's affecting companies whether they are trying to hire permanent or contract staff, but particularly with permanent hires where the demand in the IT, digital and technology sectors it the highest in the UK, closely followed by the engineering sector. UK Labour Market report (REC/IHS Market) figures show that it has been particularly tough over the last few months with some companies citing Brexit and the uncertainty that it brings, as a contributing factor. 

All this demand means that salaries are on the rise - they have been growing steadily since 2015. It’s affecting the permanent salaries and contract day rates. These increases can make it even harder for smaller technology companies to compete with the bigger businesses and brands, who are often able to offer premium rate salaries with great benefits packages – making them very attractive to anyone thinking of changing jobs.

So, the reality is, if you are hiring technology staff, expect it to be tough, to take longer and you are probably going to have spend more than you did this time last year. Once you’ve got your head around that, take some time to think about your next hire, what skills and experience you really need, what budget you have and whether you could do more as a business to attract candidates and how you could get the whole company on board to help.

If you do have the time and resources to do the hiring yourself this can be the best way to engage with relevant people in the market. Here are a few pointers that may help you:

1.      Do you really know how to sell your company - ask your staff why they work there and what gets them out of bed in the morning - it will be important to be able to share this in your adverts and interviews.

2.      Can you share the job with everyone in the company and get them to share through their social media networks? You can offer a good referral scheme and what better way to “sell” the opportunity than with your teams promoting the business and the role.

3.      Think about your recruitment process - speed is of the essence in the current market and this is where you can really compete with some of the bigger companies. Are you set up to be able to quickly review CVs and respond to candidates? Can you interview out of hours, can you go and meet the candidate? When they come to your office, what will the experience be like, who else will they meet? Prep everyone in the business on how important this meeting could be so that potential candidates get a feel for you and company.

If you don’t have the time to recruit yourself, or you don’t have a dedicated resource in the business who can do this for you, then you will need to use external options such as; recruitment agencies, offshore CV resourcing teams, interim/contract independent recruiters. There are pros and cons to whichever option you choose, but all will need a level of your time:

a.      Many may choose the route of giving the job to 3-4 recruitment agencies with the thinking that 4 agencies will have a bigger pool of candidates than 1 and it will be the quickest way to get CVs on your desk. You’ll have the hungry agencies working hard to get the CVs over to you before their competition can and, if it’s CVs you want, you will get them. However, this doesn’t really work with technology roles, where there is such a shortage of candidates and the CVs you get may have some of the skills you are looking for but not necessarily in the context that you need them. Also, managing the process with this number of agencies can mean you are spending a lot of your time discussing the role with each agency, dealing with queries and emails and giving feedback on each CV. It takes up a lot of time and in reality, the service they give you, knowing they have a 1 in 4 chance of filling the role, may mean that you are not actually seeing the best candidates in the market.

b.     With offshore resourcing teams, the level of service you get will depend on the amount you pay. At its most basic level you will get CVs that match your skill requirements but once you start contacting the candidates, it may be that they are not available or looking to move. If you ask the offshore teams to do initial screenings, you will pay more and also need to consider how well they are representing your company to candidates. You get what you pay for with these services and I’m not convinced that, unless they specialise in one particular skills area and have a network to reach out to, they will be able to find you the calibre of staff you need for your technology teams.

c.      Hiring an interim/contract resourcer is a great way of ensuring someone really gets to know your business and culture and can represent your company well. They’ll be an integrated part of your team and you’ll have someone working exclusively on your hiring needs. They will take on the majority of the recruitment so that you can get on with your job. A good resourcer will be able to help in other ways too; they’ll be able to set up more efficient recruitment processes and depending on their background, bring specialist recruitment knowledge into your business and sector. So, if you have a number of technology roles you want to hire on this could be a great option. The only real down side, is that initially you may have to spend time recruiting this person before you can consider your other hires!

Whatever your preferred route, you should look at your internal processes and how you can improve these to be reaching the biggest possible network and in doing so, promoting your company as a great place to work. Working with a single technology recruitment agency or a specialist interim recruiter will mean more time spent up front giving them all the information they need to go to market and sell your job and company to active and passive candidates. But once you have given that initial time, you’ll be able to leave all the leg work to them so that they are presenting you with candidates who are available and interested in your role, who are ready to interview.

In my next blog, I’ll share with you insights on interviewing to help you hire the best people for your teams.

PCR Digital is a technology resourcing company. We provide contractors to our Technology, Media, Digital and Broadcast clients and work in partnership with SMEs giving an on-demand resourcing service where we can provide you with your own resourcer or work exclusively with you whilst offering an industry unique payment and guarantee structure.

If you would like to discuss alternative ways of hiring technology staff within your business, please give me a call – Jane Abbott 0207 479 7980.