Recruiting the IT talent of the future
Location, location, location
Distance may not be an issue where training is concerned, but it’s often a factor in the recruitment process, and any organisation that has the luxury of relocating or opening a branch office in centres of existing expertise can thrive. Rather than harming your chances, setting up close to your competition can pay dividends, since candidates of the appropriate calibre are likely to already be in situ. It’s not always a case of relocating to the opposite side of the country, either.
“We’ve got a lot of information about future trends within specific sectors of industry and geographical areas,” says Tom Laws of the National Careers Service. “It may be that, over the next five years, there’s going to be a steep drop in demand for one particular role to be filled in one particular area, whereas on the other side of a county border it might be on the rise.
“Obviously, there are quite a lot of specific areas of the country that are dominant in the job market for particular industries, so if a company is trying to set up in a geographical location that doesn’t necessarily have a history [of that type of employment] in that area, they wouldn’t necessarily be looking where the experience and talent pools really are.”
It’s a process that works both ways, though, and Laws believes that the candidates can employ similar tactics when searching for the perfect position. “Keeping up to date with professional bodies within the industry allows [them] to get a better idea with how trends are going, keep up to date with where new industries are being set up. If [they] get a head start on knowing there’s going to be a technology-based company or industrial area opening in five or ten years, [they can] make sure [they] have experience to take advantage of the opportunities.”
Looking to the future
The problem for employers is that the opportunities they can offer are often driven by external forces. Until Apple made changes to iOS and OS X, for example, they would have had no idea that they’d soon need to be hiring staff with experience in the Swift programming language.
Often, therefore, the flexibility of a candidate is more important than their existing skillset, and Hays’ Milligan said employers with an eye on the future make hiring decisions based on a type of person rather than a specific ability.
“Employers recruiting for immediacy require a skill,” he explained, whereas “the ones that are more strategic in their thinking hire on the basis of competence.”
Competent, flexible staff, rather than those wedded to a specific discipline, will be the ones most likely to embrace external change. They’re the ones with an enthusiasm for all that is new, a keenness to learn and an ability to bring evolving technologies into the organisation in an almost organic manner. So, how do you find such a person?
Generally, they’re the ones who are as interested in what it’s like to work for a company as they are in the remuneration, and with whom a conversation about the company’s culture will help you to sell yourself as an employer. “What you should be looking for is someone who is flexible in their post and has developed in previous roles [so] they can go in and learn and develop, and they have an interest and passion,” said Milligan. “Candidates want to know what it’s like working for a company, what are the prospects and opportunities, where is this company going? So it’s the conversation about culture that’s really important.”
Unsure where to go to recruit the best talent? Here’s our guide to the best startup hubs in the UK.