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August 2015

Why I stopped being a “sales recruiter” and got my geek on……


When I started back in the olden days of recruitment (we still used faxes) I had no, none, zero, zip, not one iota of understanding of technology and in all honesty it didn’t really matter. Technology at that time was not too complex to understand or recruit for, as a VB6 & Delphi “specialist” I took a spec, asked what went with what, put an advert out, hit the job boards, matched skills and we had a plethora of candidates all wanting to apply for our jobs.

People seemed happy to go in and just be able to program and very little was needed to attract the right talent “to get the job done”. Most of our focus was about pleasing the client and we had plenty of candidates to do this. Yes we were specialists in our “vertical” markets but at that time that just meant knowing what skills went with what and where, who recruited the developers we had on our books and making sure we knew what was about to happen in development, which at that time changed very very very slowly.

Back then of course Technology was still seen as a business cost, a lot of companies still had the burn marks from Y2K, the .com bubble had apparently burst and the internet was only a toddler. The emphasis was on cost management, getting as much bang for your buck and if you like a “bums on seats” ethos.

Fast forward to now, we are in a Year of Code, there is an increasing gulf in skills and talent needed to fill the requirements of businesses, technology seems to be progressing and changing at an almost hourly rate. Take also into account also the reliance the UK has on Technology for its growth; in a paper from KMPG, the Technology industry in 2013 recorded the best growth performance for almost a decade with 44% of technology companies saying they will be employing more staff.

So what does this mean? Well quite simply that Talented Technical Staff are massively in demand, and what that equates to in the recruitment world is that they are getting absolutely bombarded by in-house, internal and agency recruiters all fluttering their eyelashes and showing a bit of leg trying to get their attention all spewing roles that they “know” will be the best for them…. But do they?

Being a “true” specialist is an awful lot harder work than it used to be, having worked in the industry for years I have absorbed a lot of information from osmosis and have been lucky enough to meet and personally get to know some amazing Techies, who have patiently coached, explained and in some cases drawn simple cartoon diagrams enabling me to understand differences and innovations in IT which helps me do my job properly. To be taken seriously, I now have to spend many hours following tech innovators, leaders and developers on Twitter, trying to absorb tech blogs, reading Hacker News and generally up-skilling my brain on what makes the technical world tick and what its next moves are.

Knowing what a company wants in a developer’s code stack, what they are expected to do, how they will fit into the team is still all part of our role but what has become more important is understanding why a someone to would want to work for a company. This means that as recruiters we should now be getting much more involved in our industry sectors whether this be on social media, meet ups or even just taking people for a beer. Just reading about what’s hot in the market is not enough, we need to be engaging with people who work in the industry and not just to hit them up about roles or information but to understand and be involved in what is going on, why what people is doing is important and what is actually mean in the real world.

So get your geek on and get involved, I’m off to buy a Raspberry Pi….

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