Tech Talent: Overcoming challenges of recruiting in an industry boom

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by Guest Writer
Leif Kavan Radford - Data and Tech Recruitment Director at The Candidate

“What is the state of the talent pool for data and tech in the North West at the moment?” a question I’m being asked almost on a daily basis, says Leif Kavan Radford, Data and Tech Recruitment Director at The Candidate.

Radford explores the staff shortage facing the tech sector and outlines the steps tech companies can follow to attract, nurture and retain staff. 

On the face of things, the sector looks like it couldn’t be doing any better than it is – huge growth, start-ups popping up left, right and centre and large tech companies moving to the area. 

According to TechUK, the tech sector is the UK’s “modern economic success story”. Between 2010 and 2019, the contribution from the tech sector to the UK economy increased by 26.5%. Recent figures released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) also revealed the digital sector has added £150.6bn to the UK economy.

The problem? Rapid growth in the sector needs to be fuelled by equal and increasing growth in the available talent pool. In the North West, we’re experiencing a drought. The huge demand for more staff from start-ups and huge corporations has drained the limited pool we had built up before the boom. 

So what does that mean for the teams who still need more resources?

The recurring narrative is that the market has never been more competitive than it is now, with salaries, benefits and flexible working all becoming key bargaining chips to attract talent.

The issue is that with everyone shouting about what they have to offer, it has become harder for candidates to cut through the noise and figure out who’s genuinely offering something special.

The talent shortage is only exacerbated if you’re working with a tech stack that’s not prolific within the North West. Manchester-based agency Rainy City has had to adapt its hiring process to account for the extra time investment required to fill any given vacancy.

“As a Shopify specific agency, we’ve always found finding tech talent in the area tricky. Shopify is fairly unknown to developers in the Manchester area, so it makes our search even smaller. 

"That, coupled with the overall tech talent search, has made hiring a lot more difficult over the past six months. Our advice is to really plan ahead – look to where you’ll need the new hires over the next 12-24 months and try to plan in the factor of a much longer hiring lead time will help,” said Rebecca Worsley, CEO at Rainy City Agency.

Rebecca Worsley, CEO at Rainy City Agency.
Rebecca Worsley, CEO at Rainy City Agency.

What can we do to address this issue?

Take a leaf out of Rebecca’s book - invest time and resources into the industry now, whether you have an immediate need or not. Here are three ways to get started:

1. Retention, retention, retention. Look after the team you already have! If the market is as competitive as it is, then making them feel happy, fulfilled and invested in their individual role should be your first priority as replacing them isn’t going to be quick or easy.

2. Create more talent. Whether this is through giving talks/seminars to students at a grassroots level to inspire them to get into tech in the future or hiring junior talent as an investment with a view to train them up. It’s going to take a concerted effort to grow the pool of candidates to a sustainable level.

3. Be attractive. Employer branding and advertising is essential but in the current climate candidates are looking for a more holistic, experiential process. Make your benefits package more competitive than your competitors, create a TikTok account to give an unfiltered snapshot into your culture, utilise your biggest asset by drawing on the experience and perspective of your current team as to why potential candidates should want to come along for the ride.

To chat more about this topic with Leif and his Data and Tech recruitment team, please contact info@thecandidate.co.uk.

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