Ask the questions "you don’t necessarily want to hear the answer to": How to hire quality in the tech sphere

Ask the questions

It’s not all data, skills and numbers when it comes to recruiting a quality candidate in the tech space. Whilst having an in-depth knowledge of your specialist sector is important, what sets a recruiter aside from others is their knowledge of people and the way that they communicate.

Following on from our interview with Leroy Owusu-Addae last week, we’ve continued the conversation of specialist recruiting in the tech sphere with our Manchester-based Tom Smith.

Tom specialises in software development recruiting, but in conversation it became apparent that the people and personalities behind the roles are just as important as the skills needed to do the job. 

We discussed the rapid tech growth within the North West, the people behind that growth, and what it takes to ensure those people are quality candidates for our clients.

What area do you specialise in?

“So I work as a Senior Recruitment Consultant and I joined Sanderson in December, 2019. It’s IT recruitment, so I focus predominantly on software development as an area but I do cover other areas across development such as .NET development, front-end development, mobile development. 

“Sometimes I will do other IT roles, whether that’s apps support roles or IT support roles, it’s recently gotten a little broader, but I’d say traditionally my specialism is around software development.”

What really makes you a specialist recruiter?

“I’ve been doing IT recruitment for about seven years so I have a good understanding of the market. Being in this sector for this long you work with candidates that you’d spoken to two or three years ago who are looking for a new role, you build up a network and gain more knowledge.

“I know what a good CV looks like for the roles I recruit, but I think one of the key things when working with candidates is that I have a good balance of empathy and also being direct but in a positive way. It’s important to be upfront and honest to get the best outcomes and I suppose it’s also good to be asking the questions that you don’t necessarily want to hear the answer to. 

“That’s a hallmark of a very good recruiter, asking difficult questions to ensure you have all the information you need. You need to know if a candidate isn’t really keen for the role or if they have other opportunities- It’s better for the client, for me, and also the candidate.”

Are there any common misconceptions around recruitment?

“Certainly a few years ago they [recruitment consultants] didn’t have as good a reputation as they do now. There used to be this misconception that recruiters were in it for the money and that they didn’t care about candidates or clients- but the majority of my success is in caring about the people I work with.

"I manage the process, prep the candidates for interview, I take feedback, and if my candidate gets an offer we have y’know ‘the talk’ in case they get a counter-offer. There’s a lot of stages and I’m in that process the whole way."

What emerging trends have you noticed in the tech sphere of your region?

“Recently I’ve seen from both client and candidate side the emergence of cloud technologies. More companies are moving to the cloud so from a candidate perspective this is quite exciting and from the client perspective it’s all about building infrastructure.”

“For the North West I’d say that Manchester is second to London in terms of tech development. A lot of companies have recently moved into Manchester, so there is a lot of opportunities for tech people in the North West. The salaries may not be as high outside of London, but the living costs are cheaper so it works out well.

"Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester- they’re all developing rapidly and the region is flourishing as a whole.”

What, in your opinion, makes a quality candidate and a good client to work with?

“I work with a variety of companies, from SMEs to large corporations, and a good client is one where our communication is good, we work in sync, and the process goes quickly and smoothly.

"Similarly, with candidates, if you have multiple candidates that all have the same level of technical ability the one that is going to stand out is the one with those communication skills which really play into problem solving skills.

"Communication is key and it makes a candidate stand out and in terms of clients it means you can get them the best quality hire."