The best way to recruit in the tech sector? Be a specialist in what you do.
Tech is one of the fastest developing sectors in industry today, and the advancements we see that make our lives more streamlined is just a fraction of what is going on behind the scenes.
Tech is exciting and changes rapidly; talent is desperately sought-after and recruitment consultants in this sector are aware that digital transformation requires continuously changing skill sets and that it’s important to supply the right people to keep organisations agile and forward-thinking.
We spoke to Leroy Owusu-Addae, a senior technical recruiter in our London office, about his interest in tech and his specialist skills that he uses to find the perfect solution for a client.
Tell us a bit about your role and the responsibilities:
“Formally I am a Senior Consultant at Sanderson, informally I am the Lead Technical Recruiter for London and the South East. My role is multifaceted, with a mixture of delivery, account management, business development, mentoring and client advisory.
“In terms of my day-to-day, I’m either working with clients, filling roles or working with our consultants to help them understand what ‘good’ looks like.”
How did you get into the world of recruitment and specialising in tech?
“I’ve been with Sanderson for just under six years and I came directly from university. I went to Manchester where I studied mechatronic engineering and realised I didn’t want to go into software development.
“I was open about where to go next, and I ended up joining Sanderson because out of all the places that gave me offers I believed in the people here the most.”
What makes you a specialist in tech recruitment?
“Doing software developer at university did help me a lot as that is my core speciality. For any recruitment consultant, the tighter your “vertical” the better you can go and deliver. For example, if you are only recruit for .NET developers in financial services in Birmingham, it’s much easier to focus compared to recruiting any IT role in any location in the UK. So although I can go broad, I try to niche it and that’s really how it should work.
"The best way to answer your question, and this was a quote from a client of mine, is that I’m a “recruiter that gets IT.”
"Because of my background, and legitimate interest, I can still read code and write basic programs. I also understand how it fits with Architecture and DevOps and Product, and through this job I can understand the difference between a good and bad IT organisational structure.
“With these skills you’re better able to qualify a role with a client and their needs, and it’s much easier to bring roles to life for candidates. You are better able to engage with candidates and it goes deeper and with more trust than if you just ask them if they have Java on their CV.
“When you work with a client it’s about actually understanding what is truly important and the only way you can do that is by understanding not what a client needs for a role, but more a deeper understanding of what the job is. Roles aren’t clean cut and you need to know what a job needs.
“Having that level of knowledge makes me a specialist.”
In your area, what are the emerging trends in the digital and tech sphere?
“Two big things that are happening in IT generally is the widespread adoption of cloud technologies, which is changing what the infrastructure role looks like. The other is the introduction of data science and artificial intelligence into enterprise organisations, instead of being relatively niche.
"When I started in recruitment, cloud was something that was limited to software development. It’s now becoming a mainstay- not just within software. As for artificial intelligence, since businesses are still leveraging the concept it will be interesting to see what the standard “Artificial Intelligence” role will look like down the road as different businesses see the scope of the role as different from each other.
What do you find exciting about new and emerging technology?
“The applications on a day-to-day basis. If there is something out there that could make my life easier or your life easier then why not get excited about it?
“For example, I was extremely interested in how blockchain was going to be received because in theory it’s awesome. But when you say blockchain, people think Bitcoin. But cryptos are a tiny part of blockchain- there are so many uses for it. So it’s a question of whether other business are going to pick it up and will the adoption stick. Are financial services firm going to use to provide single source of truth capabilities for contracts or to reduce fraud? Are agriculture, pharma and shipping businesses going to pick up blockchain for their supply chain management? Are the NHS going to use blockchain for my health records? We will see in five years…“
How do you see recruitment developing as the tech industry develops?
“I see a lot of mid-sized generalist agencies disappearing or pivoting. I feel like in the future you will either have to be niche, have a true USP, offer recruitment solutions like MSP’s or hire-a-recruiter services or you need broad with multiple offerings. Internal recruitment teams are becoming more popular, and everyone has the same technology and tools available, so if you are not bringing something extra then it will be really hard to stand out.
"Our business [Sanderson] is very broad but we also have managed to keep the niche piece. We have a solution for any people problem a business would have but within the compacts that we have. We create SME’s with specialism in a specific market, we have networks within that market, and we have actual domain knowledge so that we can engage with our client's market on a more equal level.
"For example, I can talk technology in detail with a CTO but if we didn't have SME knowledge and legitimate networks then there will be limited value-add that we could offer and I think that is what clients want. An authentic, knowledgeable, and honest service that take as much of the pain of recruitment away from them as possible."