We’ve had almost 18,000 candidates applying to the Hired platform in the UK over the past 10 months, so the problem does not seem to be a lack of supply (although demand for tech talent is growing faster than supply) but visibility of top candidates.
Visibility is not the only reason that tech companies struggle to find the right candidates. Many are moving and growing so fast that they don’t take the time to stop and identifying their hiring needs, focus on employer branding or create a structured interview process.
These problems are compounded by many companies putting off bringing a specialist recruitment team in house. Only 30 per cent of the companies in our Hiring Best Practice Survey – which we recently conducted among our UK clients – had a talent acquisition team managing the recruitment process internally.
Identifying, engaging and managing candidates is generally handled by hiring managers who have other competing priorities and who do may not have the depth of recruiting experience of talent specialists. Over 71 per cent of companies are still sourcing candidates through referrals and 56 per cent through job boards and company careers page.
Early-stage companies need to work extra hard to attract top talent as they are competing with brand names like Facebook, Expedia, Amazon and Google, as well as other hot startups for the best people.
Of course, the opportunity at a small but fast growing business is a very different proposition from joining a larger company and so will attract a different kind of candidate.
(1) A strong “sales pitch”
Small companies need to prepare a good “sales pitch” in order to catch the candidate’s attention to make themselves stand out from the crowd.
At this stage of a company’s life, developing a strong employer brand, articulating the company culture and creating an efficient interview process are fundamental. If you are an early-stage company you need to be prepared to pay fairly for the right candidate in order to be able to compete.
However, from our data, I can confidently say that salary is not the main driver for most developers when making career decisions; being part of team with a great engineer culture, where they feel they can learn, grow and have impact is far more important to them overall.
(2) Streamlined recruitment
An efficient recruitment process can be a winning differentiator for earlier stage companies.
While the larger companies plod along, taking weeks to get back to candidates – sometimes taking several months between initial contact and final offer, smaller companies can move candidates rapidly through interviews and make a decision in a matter of days.
By the time these larger companies make a decision, the candidate is already off the market. Candidates see quick turnaround times as a sign that the company is really interested in them and are more likely to take the offer when it is presented. The average time to hire on the Hired platform is 19 days, but we’ve seen startups move at a lightening speed, securing an amazing candidate within a couple of days!
Transparency is important to candidates. Many companies are nervous about being transparent about compensation at the start of the recruitment procedure, but being open upfront about salary reduces a mismatch in expectations later on.
Both candidate and employers invest a lot of time in the interview process and losing a candidate due to salary differences is both frustrating and a waste of time. Wouldn’t it be better to just know at the beginning that you are both thinking about the same ballpark numbers? We think so and it seems our clients and candidates do too!
(4) Offer distinctive benefits
Companies can offer other benefits outside of compensation to entice candidates.
Perks such as free food and drink, flexible working times, ability to work from home or even implementing a cycling to work scheme can sway a job decision for developers.
Unlike in the US, we’ve found that UK tech talent is generally not very interested in equity, seeing it as a “nice-to-have” in addition to a fair salary.
As a company founder, you can take steps to overcome these obstacles to hiring the best talent.
By taking a strategic approach to your hiring, putting processes in place that will enable you to effectively engage with candidates and move them quickly through your hiring process, and using sourcing tools that give you a curated pipeline of great candidates, you can be efficient, effective and successful in growing your teams.
The talent is definitely available but only a strategic approach to hiring will enable startups and early-stage companies to access the best talent to take their businesses forward.
Sophie Adelman is UK general manager of Hired.co.uk.
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