Recent estimates suggest that 600,000 vacancies in the UK tech industry far outnumber the skilled talent available, meaning that finding good candidates is an increasing challenge for our clients.
In such a competitive market where the talent is able to call the shots, it’s vital that employers understand what motivates tech candidates to choose between their options, so that they can differentiate themselves and attract the best.
Turnover rates in tech are also higher than other industries – recent reports suggest 18.3% compared to an average UK rate of 15%. This is due to a number of factors in the industry: the ‘project’ nature of implementation and integration work; the start-up culture which presents new challenges; and the speed at which tech itself evolves. However, these numbers underline the need for employers to carefully consider what tech candidates want from a role if they want to attract and retain these specialist skills.
Talking to our candidates across the sector, here are some of the key things they look for when considering a new role. Whilst there may not be any surprises here, we consistently see these as the top requirements from the market. By making just a few basic changes, you too could attract some great tech talent!
According to a recent survey, 84% of employees in tech have the option of flexible working, compared to the UK average of 65%, no doubt driven by the example set by some of the tech giants such as Dropbox, which lets its workforce set their own hours, and Dell, which is aiming to have at least half of its staff on flexible hours by next year.
This means employers must consider their own flexible working policies, as they are fast becoming the norm. Remote working and flexi time are high on the wish list for candidates, with 62% of them stating that they would quit their job to achieve a better work/life balance.
What our clients say:
“The two key areas for success when hiring the best talent in technology is firstly to have a recruitment process that attracts smart people whilst keeping the process as lightweight as possible. We have also found flexi hours to be extremely beneficial in attracting and retaining talent: from being able to work from home one day a week, to core office hours that enable staff to attend to personal matters when convenient. When you respect your employees’ work-life balance, they will respect you in return, and rise to any challenges when required.”
Huw Evans – Software Development Manager at deepmatter.io
The right environment
Today’s tech professionals, unsurprisingly, don’t wear a suit to work and don’t want to work in a stale environment. Again, inspired by the tech giants, candidates are getting used to contemporary office spaces where they can be themselves. While start-ups will often have a relaxed dress code that suits them, larger corporates may find that their more formal dress code policies will be seen as a negative. It may sound trivial, but it’s important to address this, given 36% of tech candidates say that corporate culture is key when choosing who to work for.
Employers must see the importance of cultural engagement and give employees the ability to influence how the company evolves. The stronger a company's culture, the better employees understand what is expected of them and what they're working toward.
What our clients say:
"At Onzo, we are constantly evolving our culture to ensure our colleagues contributions are recognised and rewarded. Every single staff member is involved in this process. Furthermore, as a small engineering team, the positive impact of every feature we push to our customers is seen immediately. We have passed several milestones throughout 2019, and all members can directly tie their own efforts to these. We are very proud of what we are all creating.”
Scott Krueger – Engineering Lead, Edinburgh
Opportunities to grow
Tech candidates work in one of the fastest changing sectors, and as such are predisposed to learning and adapting. It’s in their nature to want to expand their skill sets and try something new. However niche their specialism, most candidates don’t want to code in a single language forever, and a particularly attractive route for them is to experience the full software lifecycle. An organisation structured to offer genuine development opportunities is much better placed in terms of attraction and retention of tech skills compared to those who place an emphasis on a single, short term requirement. DevOps is a particularly sought-after discipline at the moment among candidates for this reason.
Other perks and benefits
Although work/life balance and corporate culture are bigger drivers for tech candidates, they are as interested in good employee benefits as everyone else. Communicating your attractive staff perks and lucrative extras such as pension schemes or generous healthcare can give you a competitive advantage over the other companies they are interviewing with.
Final tip: If you’re using a recruiter, make sure they’re fully clued up on all of these things. We always ask our clients questions that will help unearth this information, as we know it makes all of the difference when we are engaging with top tech talent.
In your experience, are there any other key things you see tech candidates asking for? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
A big thanks to our contributors to this article, deepmatter.io & Onzo. Find out more about DeepMatter on their blog.
[Stats taken from recent research by Monster, XpertHR, CWJobs, Smarter Working Initiative and e-Days]