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Talent is the biggest challenge facing tech

As the CTO of a fast growing technology business, my remit is not an unusual one: scale the technology, scale the technology team.

Like many organisations within the alternative finance world, we can see a great deal of pent-up demand and potential. Our biggest challenge is finding and attracting digital talent in the very competitive arena of Fintech.

We’re not alone in this. Technology is one of the biggest generators of employment in the UK. According to the fourth Entrepreneur Index compiled by Barclays, 27% of job vacancies in London for 2013 were technology positions. Yet the number of computer science graduates in the UK dropped by nearly a quarter in 2011 compared to 2002. The UK is creating digital and technology positions faster than it can fill them.

Like other digital businesses, we believe we have a compelling story: a viable, profitable business in an exciting sector that hasn’t lost its entrepreneurial feel or hobbled itself with unnecessary bureaucracy and structure. And that’s good news because today’s job market is candidate-led with employers often having to put their credentials front and centre rather than the other way round.

The hiring experience for technology roles is evolving radically and high-potential, high-quality candidates are unlikely to find the process onerous. For them it is going to be more like the football transfer market. The best are going to find interesting roles and be well-rewarded before they even sign a contract.

The role of the job board is being flipped completely. Job seekers who want to join certain sites submit their cvs for scrutiny. If they make it through the screening process, their details are pushed out to suitable companies who can view information about the candidates along with any current and counter job offers.

So the usual hiring process is reversed. To be interesting to really top talent, companies might find themselves bidding up on salaries before they have even met the candidate they’re interested in.

A true multi-channel hiring blueprint uses platforms like in conjunction with other sourcing techniques and automates the hiring pipeline with tools like HackerRank and Workable, to help tech companies like ours process large volumes of candidates and attract the best talent.

Similarly, there is a new wave of recruitment agencies, such as Find’m, that recognise that the traditional agency model is not working for tech companies and new innovative ways to approach and attract talent are needed; with these new style agencies we are starting to see much needed disruption in the recruitment agency market.

Another received wisdom that has been upended in this competitive space is the so-called halo effect of tech giants like Google and Amazon. Undoubtedly, these companies attract candidates to their locality. But their sheer size means they can afford to offer persuasive salaries and benefits packages that will be out of reach for smaller competitors. So their presence can be a mixed blessing to say the least.

Of course salaries – and other financials – are far from the whole story when recruiting, and some smaller tech players offer significant advantages over the giants. What companies like ours have in our favour is the opportunity for individuals to join organisations that are setting out to disrupt a market sector and make a difference. Companies like these are mission-led and the tasks that our engineers undertake every day are central to our business aims. Changes that engineers are working on today can be in production tomorrow making an impact, by improving the experience for our customers and growing our business. That’s an attraction that more established players can’t necessarily match.