Recruitment Roundtable Event in Cambridge – The ongoing challenge in recruiting Software Developers - Cherry Swayne, Head of Cambridge

posted: 2014-08-26
“Over the last two years, I have frequently attended local networking groups for Software Developers in Cambridge. These take place across the city on a monthly basis and are usually focused on a particular development language or methodology.
 
Despite the focus of these groups being primarily technical, the conversation almost always comes back to the more human elements surrounding software development such as the companies they work for, management styles and, of course, recruitment.
 
Across the UK the demand for permanent staff has increased month on month for nearly two years continuously. Unfortunately the amount of new IT professionals entering the job market is not increasing at the same rate as the demand, resulting in availability for candidates reaching a record low. This problem is more acutely felt in Cambridge than almost anywhere else in the UK, with less than one job seeker per vacancy.
 
This has presented a real challenge for companies who are looking to grow, and the hiring managers are becoming increasingly concerned with how difficult it has become to hire good Developers. Employers are relying more and more on Recruitment Consultants to give them access to active and passive job seekers, and they rely on their expert knowledge of the market to help them attract the very best candidates.
 
This economic backdrop, combined with the clear local interest in the topic led to a specific Recruitment Roundtable event being held one evening in August.
 
The event was attended by Employers, Software Developers and Recruitment Consultants, who came along to hear one another’s opinions and use this feedback to better their job search or their recruitment processes.
 
At the beginning of the evening, each attendee was given a colour coded name badge and corresponding piece of card, on which to write the topics that you would like to discuss. These topics were then laid out on a table and people voted for the four topics that they felt were most interesting. The six topics with the most votes were the ones chosen for discussion.
 
The topics that were discussed included: “How can we help recruiters to better determine which developers can walk the walk and not just talk the talk?”, “With so many networking groups in Cambridge, why do we need to use recruitment consultants?” and “Is there a gap between the quality of developers available and employers’ expectations?”.
 
At the end of each discussion the group had to write down three key points which they felt best summarised their group’s thoughts on the topic. These key points were then read out to the whole group at the end of the evening.
 
The recurring themes that came up were:
 
Developers feeling frustrated at the volume of irrelevant emails they receive from Recruiters. Their advice was to make sure that all job adverts and emails are tailored and relevant. It was noted that Recruiters often leave out the things which would be most likely to interest them such as the nature of the projects, the working environment and the salary or benefit package. Give them a compelling reason to want the job!
 
Employers felt disappointed that Recruiters were often sending through poor quality candidates and had the impression that our screening process wasn’t worth the fees that were being charged. Their advice was to really get to know your candidates and to make every effort to meet them. Finding the right person for the job is as much about technical skills, as it is about personality fit. By meeting our candidates we are less likely to send over people that aren’t a good fit and we are more likely to develop a better understanding of their technical skills.
 
Overall the evening was a great success. We are far from finding a magic solution to the challenge of recruiting Developers in Cambridge. However, it was a great opportunity to share our opinions and have an open and honest conversation about recruitment. It was also a good chance to further build relationships with local employers and developers who can see first hand, how much we care about doing a great job.” – Cherry Swayne, Head of Cambridge, DP Connect