Reading time: 9 minutes
- 6 Tops tips for hiring in the West Midlands tech industry
- Assess recruitment strategies
- 1. Look in the right places
- 2. Encourage referrals
- 3. Make onboarding a priority
- 4. Use good evaluation tools
- 5. Work on your employer brand
- 6. Provide a great candidate experience
6 Tops tips for hiring in the West Midlands’ tech industry
According to the Evesham Observer, the West Midlands has swiftly solidified its position in the tech landscape, housing over 2,300 start-ups that have collectively amassed more than £850m in venture capital funding since 2020. Notably, the value of the region, home to ‘Silicon Spa’, has surged to £15.3 billion, showing a considerable increase from £11.5 billion in 2021. Predictions suggest that the West Midlands might spawn 52,000 tech jobs and see the sector grow by £2.7 billion.
One major challenge for these start-ups and scale-ups is finding the talent to enable this growth. In this blog we explore your recruitment options and provide six tips to help you get it right the first time. Let’s dive right in.
Assess recruitment strategies
When you set out to hire your next team member, you might want to consider your options. Here we explore pros and cons of the three most common recruitment strategies:
Do it yourself
Recruiting in-house is a popular option with start-ups and SMEs since it doesn’t require extra investment and gives you full control over the hiring process. It can however take longer to find the right candidate and you won’t have the benefit of an outsider’s perspective. Recruiting in-house uses valuable resources that could otherwise be spent elsewhere in your business.
Use an agency
There are a range of recruitment agencies across the West Midlands, with many specialising in recruiting tech talent. By working with an agency you have the benefit of fast results and an extensive database of candidates to choose from, which ultimately saves time.
Using a recruitment agency does come with its downsides. It can be expensive, especially for high salaries or multiple hires and it can be challenging to recruit for particular positions. There is also a lack of transparency and process around your brand.
Hire an in-house recruiter with market knowledge
The final option is to use an in-house recruiter (full-time or part-time) with knowledge of your brand and industry. By enlisting their help you can nail down job specifics (job title, description etc.), prospect for multiple roles for a one cost, and pipeline talent with someone that has experience attracting the best talent. This does however require an extra expense and the quality and experience of a recruitment specialist can vary a lot.
1. Look in the right places
If you choose to recruit team members on your own, it’s vital that you know the right places to find talented professionals. Here are some avenues you can use to identify and attract the right people for your team:
The West Midlands is home to 20 universities, with most having tech-related centres for excellence. This means a huge number of talented graduates in the region are seeking employment every year.
These are some key benefits of hiring graduates for your business:
- Enthusiasm and willingness to learn
- Hiring affordability
- Open to new ideas and easy to mould
Using social media can be an excellent resource for recruiting. LinkedIn is the most obvious choice, and as the largest professional networking platform, it enables businesses to find talented professionals and to target them easily. However LinkedIn isn’t the only option for social recruiting, less immediately apparent platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, TikTok or Instagram, can also have value in recruitment. By using social media for recruitment, you can easily reach out to people and build connections quickly. It can also be an excellent way to advertise positions you’re recruiting for.
There are hundreds of meetups, conferences, and exhibitions nationally, and great candidates go to them; meeting someone at an event and following up is a great way to engage them for your business.
Online job boards are another option for recruiting tech talent to your business. They generally make it very easy to narrow down what you’re looking for based on criteria such as location, skills, and qualifications.
2. Encourage referrals
Referrals account for a significant percentage of the jobs in the tech industry, and they benefit businesses for a few reasons. Not only does it make it much easier to find the right candidate, but referrals have also proven to shorten the recruitment process.
Setting up an incentivised referral program can be an excellent way to get referrals, but it’s not always necessary. Simply letting your employees know what roles you’re looking for and asking them for referrals can be just as effective. Enlisting friends, family, investors, board members and other networks to share a job post to their networks also works.
3. Make onboarding a priority
Providing a great candidate experience is one of the most critical aspects of recruiting talent. If you offer a great candidate experience, it not only makes it more likely you’ll be able to attract the talent your business needs, but candidates are more likely to share their positive experience.
There are a few critical facets of providing a great candidate experience, including:
Simplify the application process
If you have a careers page on your website, you should make it easy to find and simple to apply.
Utilise an applicant tracking system to help manage volume, communication and engagement – many will now also take care of GDPR issues for you. Examples include Workable, Recruitee, Greenhouse, and Lever through to inbuilt ones on LinkedIn or Indeed.
Some of the ways you can simplify your application process are:
- Make the application form streamlined and mobile-friendly
- Avoid making applicants log into your system
- Avoid restricting file sizes for uploading attachments
Communicate at every step
Good communication is essential at every step of the hiring process when you’re looking to provide a great candidate experience. This means thanking candidates when they complete your application form or take any tests, replying to any questions promptly, being transparent about each stage of the application process, and when candidates can expect to hear back from you.
You should also let candidates know what to expect at the interview. This includes things like who will be interviewing them, whether the interview will be in-person or via a video call and how long you expect the discussion will take.
Plan for a great interview
The interview is one of the most critical aspects of providing a great candidate experience since it will usually be the first time candidates see your business and meet you and your staff.
To ensure the candidates have a good experience during the interview, you should be attentive, listen to their questions, provide thoughtful feedback, and ensure the right people are involved. You should also make it clear at the end of the interview when they can expect to hear from you. Try to have a two-stage process, which will enable you to get multiple viewpoints from an investor or colleague.
4. Use good evaluation tools
When you’re hiring for a new position, you must be able to judge candidates’ skills objectively. Building a process that tests for the skills you want and culture fit that is standardised for every candidate ensures that you do not fall foul of bias and enables you to give constructive feedback.
Some excellent assessment tools are available on the market that simplify the process of evaluating candidates. Some of these tools integrate seamlessly with recruitment software, making things much easier.
5. Work on your employer brand
Employer brand is essential when you run a start-up or scale-up since you may not have the advantage of having an established reputation in the industry. Telling your story and mission gives candidates a good reason to join your team.
The number of tech firms in the West Midlands has been growing steadily over the last few years, so being able to stand out from the competition is vitally important. Many new businesses will focus solely on their company brand, and while having a strong brand is certainly important, it’s just as important to create a good employer brand.
Some great ways to improve your employer brand are:
- By encouraging feedback from your employees, you can find the areas where your business can be improved to make it more appealing to the types of people you want to recruit.
- Providing the best working environment. Simple steps such as providing ergonomic chairs and adding some plant life to the office can help make the work environment more enjoyable.
- Creating content, like great images and videos, that your employees can easily share on platforms like Instagram and Twitter can effectively improve your employer brand as an SME or start-up.
- Have a careers page on your website or LinkedIn that tells people why they should want to work for you.
6. Provide a great candidate experience
A culture of continuous learning fuels team development and is a catalyst for growth. This is why it is important to encourage a learning mindset. Here are two ways to help establish a culture of always getting better:
- Invest in training programs and workshops. This keeps your team’s skills up-to-date and promotes innovation.
- Facilitate knowledge-sharing sessions within the team. This promotes a collaborative atmosphere and accelerates collective learning.
The most important thing for any company when hiring one or multiple people is to take the time to plan. Ensure that you build a recruitment strategy and process that works, and ensure that the people involved know how to sell you. Having things like a cheat sheet of benefits, salary guides, and understanding the rules of recruitment all play their role.
Building an effective job description that describes what the person will do and achieve, and why you need them is half of the battle. A quarter is having a process that engages them well and a quarter is finding the person(s). Get this right and you’re on your way to successful recruitment.
After 15 years working in technology recruitment across the UK, Peter Chatterley set up the TalentHackers to work with start-ups and Scale-ups to transform their hiring, using the latest tools and tech to take the pain of hiring away from them. Having worked with Midven and other VC portfolio companies for 10 years, his proven approach to hiring has led him to work with scale-ups in Africa to the US. It’s his love of Birmingham and helping the West Midlands region to grow that has been one of his proudest achievements, rather than the Birthday cakes he makes for his twins birthdays.
If you’d like more information about how Peter can help your business specifically, feel free to reach out at email@example.com or visit www.thetalenthackers.com.