#TalentQA | 4 min read
As part of our #TalentQA series, Third Republic were thrilled to speak with Becky Honour, of Sky Betting and Gaming, to hear her thoughts on how hiring technical talent has changed, and how she – and Sky Betting and Gaming – are working to overcome some of these challenges in today’s digital world.
Becky Honour (BH): There’s quite a few that I have experienced; one of which is the fact that candidates – particularly technology candidates – are being bombarded with opportunities every day, they don’t need to apply directly for roles and often don’t want to hear it anymore! We are working in a candidate-led market, and there isn’t enough tech talent for the amount of jobs around. This also goes hand in hand with the rapid increase in salaries for technical roles, so it’s hard to keep up on that front too.
Some of the roles that we recruit for are incredibly niche and, because we are using new and exciting technologies, the candidate pool of people who have experience of those is very small. Tech is always evolving and changing so it can be impossible to hire experienced Engineers in new technologies. Add to that the fact that we at Sky Betting and Gaming are based in Leeds which complicates the challenge even further as it is a really saturated market with more and more businesses moving here. The talent pool is still fairly small when you compare it to the likes of London and Manchester, sometimes it feels like you have exhausted the local market and drawing people away from those big cities can be difficult.
BH: They definitely are, because candidates are in such high-demand they can be picky with who they do and don’t respond to. With the number of daily approaches, there are so many messages for these potential candidates to wade through that they often won’t even read your outreach. It comes down to the fact that candidates know that if they wanted a new job, they could walk out and walk into a new one relatively easily.
BH: At Sky Betting & Gaming, we’ve just put together some analysis that looks at each of our channels, and which are most successful, and the outcome has shown that we can’t rely on traditional job boards because the candidates just aren’t there. We’ve had the most success with networking sites such as LinkedIn, Stack Overflow and Twitter, and so we are investigating new platforms like this.
Alongside this, we host a lot of events and support our local tech community because we’ve found that it can lead to a hire further down the line when we get the brand name out there and encourage potential candidates to engage with us in a different way. Ultimately, we’ve found that if your brand and proposition is strong then you have a better chance of engaging with your candidates. That being said, everyone has a pool table and cool offices now, so you need to think about what it is that makes the opportunity different. We look at the exciting tech we can use, the different ways we work, and the benefits we can offer like a tech ninja fund to all employees, and we focus on that when approaching potential talent. It’s the little things that can be quite a strong tool to get people’s attention and get them onboard.
BH: Yes; it definitely helps to be able to get out in front of your candidates, to help them put a face to a name and to make them feel like the process is more personable and personalisation. As a whole it increases buy-in compared to when you’re just doing cold outreach.
BH: Definitely; everything these days is online and accessible on your phone, so businesses have to adapt, or they’ll be left behind. We are an online business, but for us it’s also about educating and building the infrastructure that enables us to create the future generation of software engineering. For instance, we have built our own tech academies, and internally push that education piece, because we realise that organisations who keep up to date are the ones who will survive.
BH: There are a lot more job boards coming up that are more targeted at active candidates; those such as Hired where candidates go on the site for a short period of time, when they’re ready for a new job, and to make the process simpler. Other trends I’m seeing is a stronger focus on security, and I’m finding that there’s a lot more roles in this space. In terms of actually acquiring candidates, there’s a huge trend of candidates commanding higher salaries – which, again, goes back to them being in high-demand – and I’m also having to battle a lot of counter offers when trying to close a candidate which isn’t surprising considering how desperate businesses are to keep hold of their tech talent!
BH: Candidates can often have quite strong opinions on the industry; which is understandable for ethical or religious reasons, but we do find that people jump to conclusions about our business. We are actually one of the industry leaders when it comes to responsible gambling, we work closely with experts and gambling charities to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect and support our customers. For me it’s about having the conversation with candidates to explain why we aren’t an inherently bad business, but it’s definitely a challenge to change their opinions sometimes. We are trying to brand ourselves as a tech business first, so that people don’t immediately turn away because of our industry.
There’s also the fact that we are based in Leeds which, as mentioned previously, does limit our talent pool. We’re working to expand our geographical range and offer relocation support, which does help, but again it comes down to just talking to people and explaining what we do and why we’re worth considering.
BH: We want to be a leading tech company where people want to work and give people autonomy to innovate and make decisions. We think that to be the best digital business we have to empower people and remain on the forefront of technology and constantly evolve. It comes down to remaining educated, keeping on top of what is happening in our industry and in the world of technology, and giving people the opportunities to upskill and make products that are better and faster than everyone else’s.