'Candidates are holding all the cards in tech recruitment'
Recruitment is the top challenge for London-based tech businesses in a candidate-driven market says Tim Boughton, CTO and founder of Mention Me.
The London-based platform drives customer acquisition through referrals. It currently employs 60 people and has 15 other positions it wants to fill immediately.
Speaking to a 75-strong audience at BusinessCloud's 'Tech Recruitment Timebomb' event in London on Wednesday, he said hiring skilled tech staff is becoming increasingly challenging in the city.
"Recruitment is our number one challenge," Boughton told BusinessCloud at the event, which was sponsored by Oscar Technology.
"Definitely 10 out of 10 top challenge, it's the bane of my life. I've done a lot of successful hiring in the past and now I feel like I've lost my knack.
"The market for tech talent is out there, but it's a candidate-driven market where all the good engineers have great jobs already, so it's a case of trying to persuade them to move away from those."
Boughton's business is now five years old.
Sam Mikkelsen, client solutions director at award-winning IT and tech recruitment firm Oscar Technology, has been in the industry since 1996 – and says it's changed "massively” in that time.
"I think in 2009 when everybody went broadband there was a big sea change, but in the last 10 years mobile has really taken over," he said. "Tech has infiltrated into everything we do on a day-to-day basis."
Last year saw 7,000 new recruitment firms set up in the UK and Mikkelsen said setting Oscar Technology apart has never been more crucial.
"We're having to change with the times and be better at how we deliver our clients' stories to candidates," he said.
"It's a lot more about building that employer brand and actually that candidate journey. Applicants don't want to just send their CV and go for a load of interviews; they want to know that the consultant they’re dealing with understands what they’re looking for from a tech point of view but also what they’re looking for from culture."
Oscar Technology recently opened a London office and Mikkelsen says talented tech candidates have more choice than ever of where they want to work.
Hannah Morris has recently taken up the role of commercial director at peer-to-peer ticketing marketplace Vibe Tickets, which has offices in Lancashire and London.
The former Groupon executive, who says Vibe Tickets recently received 400 applications after advertising an office manager vacancy, stressed that recruiting someone was the beginning of a journey and not the end of it as staff needed to continue to develop in their career.
The idea of culture and attitude is key, according to ex-banker Michele Trusolino, co-founder and COO of recruitment disrupter Debut.
He said recruitment hadn't exploited technology fully and Debut took advantage of the growth in mobile phone usage to engage with students better.
"What is important is people's attitude," he said. "It's the ability and hunger to do well and to continue to improve yourself over your career.
"Someone that comes from the right background but does not have the right attitude will not be the right fit for Debut."
Vinous Ali, head of policy at Tech UK, says the skills gap is costing the UK economy millions of pounds in lost GDP every year.
"We're simply not turning out the right people, or enough of them," she said. "They are not representative of the society that they are there to serve."
Also speaking at the event was Eddie de Lewis, co-founder, Final Stage; Chieu Cao, co-founder and CMO, Perkbox; Craig Brown, product marketing manager, Beamery; Amina Ahmad, freelance tech start-up consultant; Elaine Tyler, CEO, Venatrix; Rija Javed, CTO, MarketInvoice; and Benedetta Arese Lucini, co-founder and CEO, Oval Money.