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7 ways to prepare for the UK tech skills shortage

Tech is on course for a talent shortage. To combat the rising uncertainty brought on by the prospect of Brexit, Yoyo’s head of people and talent, Clare Mullen says that recruiters need to open up to new ideas…

Those of us in the tech recruitment game know that we could be about to deal with a considerably   shrunken talent pool.

A recent report from Tech City UK says that UK digital tech investment was 50% higher than any other European country in 2016, and the growth rate of digital jobs was more than double that of non-digital jobs between 2011 and 2015.

Good news for the tech industry! Sadly, coupled with this news has been the rise of uncertainty amongst talent, which has hung over the UK since the result of the EU referendum was announced in the early hours of 24 June 2016.

The fall in the value of the pound, uncertainty for current UK-based EU workers rights and reports that say the the number of foreign tech job applications has halved since the referendum result, suggests EU tech workers are already looking away from the UK for jobs.

At the same time, there is a considerable chance that UK citizens will be more reluctant to move jobs as fears grow of an economic downturn as we approach 29 March 2019.

The possibility of a recruitment shortage is staring at the tech industry squarely in the face. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my time working for start-ups, it is that we will all need to open up to new ways of working.

As well as a strong role and a good salary, we need to provide an enticing recruitment experience. Here are seven key things I believe we need to implement.


1. We need to start thinking like a millennial

Target your job description to meet the demands of the millennial – they value development over the ping pong table. Make the application process as simple as possible – it says a lot about your organisation if you make the process lengthy and complex.

Remember, you are not Google! Keep the rounds of interviews to a minimum and spin them quickly – good candidates won’t wait!

2. Personalise at all times – don’t copy and paste

Don’t be a lazy recruiter – personalise your messages as much as possible. Be honest if you are headhunting – tell them they are amongst other candidates you are looking at. Quite simply, cut to the chase!

3. Don’t hate on your agencies 

There will be times when you need to reach out to recruitment agencies to build your dream team But, it’s a small pool – you don’t need more than two or three good sources. Give them feedback on their performance and get feedback on your performance!

4. Have a relevant referral scheme

Be sure to grant referral bonuses for networking as well as traditional methods. Speak to every referral even if you don’t think their CV matches. Don’t have a one size fits all approach, and be sure to tier your payouts in accordance with the most hard to fill roles.

5. Ask relevant interview questions

These days, the “five year plan” question needs to go – no candidate in London is staying in a job for five years. Instead ask a question like: “If you were to be successful in gaining the role, what would you want to do when you leave [insert company]. You’ll get a deeper insight into their aspirations and help them engage more with your business.

Again, you are not Google – the ping pong balls on buses question and similar need to go! Ask about companies they want to work for, organisations they follow – you’re going to get a far more engaging answer and will be able to find out just how commercially aware they are.

6. Give feedback DURING the interview

The time spent going through an interview you have already made up your mind on is a waste of both their time and yours. False hope leads to a negative opinion of a company. Even if it’s a no, offering credible, honest and constructive feedback will still provide a positive factor to candidates about the interview process.

And if it is a yes….tell the candidate why! If you are moving them on a stage, but want them to improve on something, tell them!

7. Get feedback from candidates you have rejected or those who have rejected an offer

This is so important if you want to keep your sourcing process moving. Learn from your mistakes and successes. Also, invest in a good applicant tracking system to provide a platform for their feedback.

Feedback to your recruitment committee – do those conducting the interview need further training? Be sure to track patterns – are candidates rejecting your role because of salary / re-benchmark / something else?


Clare has worked in the fintech industry for the past three years, specialising in people and talent recruitment. She has been involved in building successful sales teams, scaling start-up businesses and is a strong believer in internal talent development. She regularly contributes to leadership and mentoring events.

Clare joined Yoyo in January 2017 from one of the biggest digital wealth management companies in Europe, MoneyFarm, where she was head of people and talent.

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