Remember when getting a job involved looking through a newspaper or responding to an advert in a shop window? Probably a lot of people reading this won’t remember that, but it was still certainly the norm when I started working in the recruitment industry almost 15 years ago. Writing your CV out carefully by hand or borrowing a word processor was the norm until the early 90’s. Posting and faxing was the normal method of getting your CV out to employers, and you always received a nice rejection letter in the post on return, signed by a human! Compare this now to the humble jobseeker who’s CV has passed through the mincer of some faceless ATS (Applicant Tracking System), which has taken 40 minutes, only to receive an immediate automatic curt “Thank you” and we will be in touch within 8 weeks if it is of interest to us but please note we get millions of applications so please don’t feel aggrieved if we never come back to you.
You may be one of the many who go through the recruitment agency route, applying to something on a job board, where your CV now goes into the dark pool of the agency world. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good agencies out there, who understand what you do and will do their best to match you up with opportunities that actually match. What happens in the agency world is this – Agencies fight for good CV’s, attracted by job boards mostly, for a relatively inexpensive advert. They’re looking for a few things normally, length of employment, calibre of clients you’ve worked for, and skills. Once they receive a good one, they will email it or pass it through the ATS to the employer. Eventually you may get word of an interview, by which point you’ve probably given up hope or moved to Australia. If you do get a job through the agency, they will charge the employer typically anything from 15-30% of your starting salary; unfortunately this makes employers reluctant to use agencies if they can help it, as you would imagine. A tech start up needing to hire an average size team of 4 developers, 2 QA’s and an Agile PM, is potentially looking at fees of upwards of £60,000. On the contract front, an average day rate of £400, will incur a daily fee of circa £60-£75. Over the course of the year this adds up to a potential cost of having that contractor of £18,000; that’s fee’s to the recruitment agency for supplying the contractor.
In recent years technology has been changing the way people get found. There is a lot of talk around “Social” being the way forward; there are numerous sites offering to tap people’s social networks for referrals, which may be an interesting route to jobs/people. Personally I don’t want my employer asking me to send jobs out to my friends/network all the time; OK once or twice but I don’t want to be seen as a spammer and besides it takes me away from my day job. A big site that tried and failed this recently was called Zubka; they had millions in funding and died a death. LinkedIn offers an interesting route to jobs but as a jobseeker you’re not going to want to share sensitive information on an open social network, especially not when your current employer could see it! Jobseekers are now faced with literally hundreds of job boards, sector specific, tech specific, aggregators liked Indeed.co.uk which scrapes content from over 40,000 sources including corporate homepages, but again, where do you start? The problem the jobseeker faces today is information overload; around 500,000 new jobs found on Indeed in the past 7 days when this article was written. Breaking this down and just looking for developer, programmer, engineer or coder the jobseeker is still faced with a potential 227,000 jobs in the UK!
What LinkedIn has done is change the mind-set of everyone; the idea of having a searchable profile online that anyone can see didn’t exist before LinkedIn, although people tried. So now, most professional people have a profile on LI, not everyone but most. It’s quickly become a fertile hunting ground for the professional agency recruiter, so much so that people are now switching off. Our CTO receives an average of 5-10 irrelevant approaches a day from recruitment agencies on LinkedIn. For the corporate recruiter it’s one of many tools that they now include in their armoury and the switch from using agencies to direct sourcing has definitely been helped by emerging social tools like LinkedIn and Twitter. It will be interesting to see what Facebook do in this space as they are keen to monetise away from advertising.
There won’t be just one winner in the technology platform space for how people get work, it’s a huge market and there isn’t one solution that will necessarily win out over others. The sensible corporate will use multiple routes to finding good people, continuing to reduce dependency on 3rd party recruiters as technology enables easier and slicker access to talent pools. The “War for Talent” isn’t something that will ever be won; there will always be a shortage of skills in certain areas and quite frankly as a technologist that’s the way you want to keep it. It means your skills are always in demand and you’ll be able to continue to earn in the higher earnings bracket.
Tech City UK recently stated that there are over 1500 tech start-ups in London, a real competitor to the Silicon Valley is emerging, right here around us, with hubs like Skillsmatter right in the thick of it all. As an engineer how do you find out easily which firms are looking for your skills, or doing cool stuff that you want to get involved in?
With so many routes to a new job out there it’s never been easier to access opportunities. This has had the unfortunate side effect of making life very confusing for the jobseeker; especially in today’s uncertain climate, where costs are king, the way to get a job is to go direct, if you can get through the gatekeepers!
Elevate are co-sponsors of Find Your Ninja @ skillsmatter and are putting together an initiative to connect jobseekers and start-up employers for free – You can find out more information @ elevatedirect.com
Dan Collier is co-founder and CEO of the Elevate Platform.