Tech talent is scarce — here’s how to beat the competition

ii. Perfect the Process

Part Two of a Four-Part Mini-Series

Tech companies need good technologists to grow. The shortage of tech talent in the UK job market is one of the biggest problems tech companies face. This four-part series will tell you how to acquire and keep the best tech talent out there. We’ll cover the entire process, from developing the pipeline through to employee retention — we’re with you for the long game.

Now you have the candidates, you need a stellar process to keep them engaged.

Tech talent moves fast — you’re never the only company a given individual is being pursued by and unresponsiveness or foot-shuffling on your part can be a dealbreaker.

1 — Speed matters

Move candidates through the process as quickly as possible. Multiple essentially identical interviews will put candidates off. Cluster interviews rather than hold them on an individual basis — you can speed things up and minimise the candidates’, as well as your team’s, frustration.

2 — Don’t be a taskmaster

Setting a coding task can be an important component of the hiring process, however we’ve seen companies cause severe damage at this stage. Please refrain from dropping overly extensive coding tests on your candidates. You’re still in sales mode at this stage. If the task is too time-consuming, they may avoid the hassle altogether and ghost you, or may not complete it to a standard which reflects their capability.

We find onsite coding tests can ease frustration, with the additional benefit of allowing candidates to meet the wider team and get an insight of their day-to-day working culture. In terms of format, you want to find a balance between an irrelevant ‘dummy’ test and a test so real that the candidate suspects that by completing it they’re doing unpaid work.

Alternatively, ask a candidate to bring with them a project that they have worked on and guide you through it, with the opportunity for you to ask questions, or do some paired coding that tests ability (eg. how would you scale this up?). This will save time and provide a more positive overall experience.

3 — Consider sponsoring visas

Many employers dismiss candidates who require visa sponsorship outright due to a combination of perceived difficulty securing visas and the cost involved. Yet the ability to offer visa sponsorship can be a distinct competitive advantage vis a vis other tech companies. Suddenly, you have the tech talent from the whole world to choose from. Visa sponsorship is also proven to be a great retention tool — employees for whom a company has taken a leap of trust in sponsoring a visa can be immensely loyal. Besides, greater workplace diversity is always an asset.

It’s also not as complicated or expensive as people perceive it to be. We have assisted several companies through the process with fantastic results.

4 — Think twice…

…before disqualifying promising candidates for perceived shortfalls.

Give your requirements careful consideration — does your ideal candidate actually exist? If they do, are you prepared to pay for them?

It helps to approach selection with an open mind and to give the benefit of the doubt about perceived shortfalls. Filter in, don’t filter out. For example, don’t disregard people based outside of London (it’s 2019… video call them). Don’t write someone off over a gap in their experience — consider how you could fill it with a course, or coaching by your existing team or advisors. Don’t exclude those with a history of contracting who now intend to go permanent. There are plenty of valid reasons to make the switch such as family commitments or financial security. A resumé is two dimensional, an individual is three dimensional.

5 — Contemplate contractors

‘Contractor’ need not be a dirty word. We’ve heard them slated as ‘mercenaries’ and ‘culture threats’ in the past. Companies can be reluctant to consider them on the basis of a perceived lack of interest in their success.

We think that this is by and large unwarranted. There are plenty of contractors who care about the success of the business. If only considered as a stop-gap measure, hiring a contractor until the permanent role is filled can free up capacity for the existing team, as well as offer new ideas and access to a whole new network. Who knows, the contractor may even be encouraged to switch to become a permanent employee.

6 — Be patient with notice periods

Being fussy about notice periods will not help you. Of course your hire is urgent, and ideally, you’d like them to start as soon as possible, but three month notice periods are industry standard. We’ve seen employers who will not consider candidates with a notice period shoot themselves in the foot by elongating the time between beginning the search and start date. Notice periods exist partly because companies value their employees’ work; most people who make a valuable contribution will have a notice period.

7 — Don’t let the GlassDoor hit you on the way out

Word-of-mouth travels faster than ever before, and sites such as not only increase the pool of mouths from which words can originate but also quantify candidate experience via rating systems. Providing a positive one is thus imperative for businesses hoping to make high-stakes hires. Treat candidates (and employees) well or risk accruing a highly visible bad reputation.

Your approach to process can make or break your recruitment effort.

Keep an open mind and filter in, not out. Finally, in everything you do, be aware that your reputation is at stake.

Next up is what to do when you’ve found the right person. Find part three — Closing the Deal — .

ReEcho is an inclusive platform that creates more human and valuable hiring experiences for all involved. More info: