Opinion

A brave new world: how the pandemic is changing recruitment in IT

As employees, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, with more and more of us doing that from home. Organisations are having to rapidly change the way they supply goods and services, digitising these to minimise contact between people. Of course, this all only works if the technology does, and for that companies need to be able to rapidly recruit IT workers with niche skills. On top of this our region already has bustling tech communities, all of which means there are a lot of opportunities available to candidates with IT skills, but this can make things difficult for the businesses who want to hire them.

The move to work-from-anywhere

Before the pandemic, 76% of businesses were offering some form of remote working to their employees. Now over 96% of businesses plan to offer this, with 43% saying that full-time remote working will be possible over the next 12 months (source: the UK Tech Cluster Group’s 2021 Digital Skills Audit). So what does this mean for the IT recruitment market? Well, for one thing, it’s changing the types of IT roles available. We’re currently seeing demand for:

  • all types of roles in the software development lifecycle
  • tech support/helpdesk facilities to help with the move to working from home
  • developers to help organisations make the most of selling online
  • data analysis and business intelligence roles, as companies look to improve management information, reporting and visualisation.

The challenges of recruiting IT professionals

There’s high demand for candidates

People working in tech roles have always been in high demand. And the pandemic has just increased this as more staff work from home and businesses move more services online. This means that candidates have lots of options – so they need a good reason to leave a secure role. Companies need to offer attractive packages and job security for applicants, something which can be tough in a time of economic uncertainly.

Companies need specialist skills

There are well over 100 disciplines in IT and technology, and every role is different. As we’ve seen during the pandemic, the need for IT skills and experience can quickly change as well. So, while organisations need candidates with specific specialist skills, they also want them to be multi-skilled. This can make finding the right people tough.

Geographical requirements are changing

With so many of us working remotely, the need to recruit local people is becoming less important. Businesses can start to recruit nationally, and even internationally, for candidates with the right skills. But what happens if and when our working lives begin to go back to normal? Will you need someone who can go to your office a few days a week? In that case recruiting locally and training people in specific areas could be a better long-term investment. At the moment, on average companies advertise 59% of roles within the local region, 29% do this across the UK, and 12% internationally (source: UK Tech Cluster Group’s 2021 Digital Skills Audit).  

How Pure can help

As we return to some sort of normality in 2021, we’re working to make sure we can give all our clients the best recruitment process possible. Here are our tips for attracting and recruiting the cream of the IT crop.

  1. Offer flexible working

More than three out of five people in employment say that flexible working is one of the top five benefits of working for their current employer (obviously pay still comes out on top). So offering this to your tech recruits is important. But don’t forget to think about the future. If you’re going to want people to be based at your offices once life starts returning to normal post-pandemic, you should let them know – it might be a dealbreaker.

  1. Think about how you recruit

Have a look at your candidate recruitment experience. Because if you get this wrong, it can affect whether the right people apply for your positions – in these days of social media, Google reviews and Glassdoor, candidates have a voice too. Branding, and how you present yourself to applicants (whether you employ them or not) is critical when it comes to successfully hiring new employees.

  1. Offer a full package

IT and technology candidates don’t just want jobs – they want career paths. So, when you’re thinking about recruiting for a new position don’t just create a job description. Think about what your ideal candidate will want from the position in future, their aspirations, training development and progression, salary, working life, and so on. You need to consider the full package – because that’s what will make your organisation stand out from the crowd.

  1. Think about hiring interim or temporary workers

Hiring temporary technology workers can be an easy way to meet changing consumer demands, particularly for businesses in food manufacturing, logistics, healthcare and online consumer products. If you’re not completely sure what your business is going to look like in a year’s time – more or less home workers, increased online selling or going back to more face-to-face business, etc. – then shorter-term and flexible solutions could be the answer. You can use temporary and interim workers in technology roles to manage changes in online demand and make sure your people are set up for home working. Then, further down the track, once you have more of an idea of what your tech needs are going to be in the coming months and years, you can look to take on permanent staff with specific skills.

If all of this is making recruiting skilled tech people sound a bit daunting, don’t worry – we can take the stress out of it for you. Some of the ways we can do this include:

  • creating a shortlist: our consultants can put together a list of people with the right experience and qualifications, so you don’t have to go through every application.
  • getting to know your business: we build relationships with all our clients so we can work together to understand your recruitment challenges, and how to help you if the market changes. Our consultants are available to you for support and advice, and ready to point you in the direction of other services that could help your recruitment approach.
  • caring about our candidates: our candidates are just as important to us as our clients. We get to know them to understand their skills and make sure we offer them the right positions. And we counsel and support them through the whole recruitment process to check they’re confident about the decision to move.
  • having skilled and committed staff: we train our consultants on the best ways to work with our candidates and clients. We bring in experts to give them external training on specialist areas. So they can interpret skills and build rapport by understanding disciplines – all vital when it comes to matching the right person to the right role.

Recruiting the recruiters

We’ve recently added two new members to our team who specialise in technology recruiting. Stephen Paul is going to help us develop our focus on interim workers in technology, digital and marketing. He’s an experienced tech recruiter who knows our region well, and really shares our values on delivery and service. Stephen will be based in Norwich. 

We’d also like to introduce you to Henry Dawson, who will be focusing on technology and digital recruitment in Norfolk. He brings experience from the technology, marketing and digital sectors, and has previously worked closely with clients to help develop their recruitment strategies.

We’re looking forward to working with them both to see what we can achieve together as the market improves in 2021.

Need some help?

If you’d like to find out how we could help you and your organisation with technology recruitment (or anything else), please feel free to get in touch

Written by

Scott Woodrow

Scott is a Director at Pure. He joined Pure in 2004. Having specialised in senior finance recruitment for a number of years, Scott now leads the Technology, Marketing and Digital recruitment division, and recruits senior management and Board level IT appointments in the East of England.