Software Engineering London – Steve Williams shares his hiring insights during Lockdown

As we work our way through week seven of UK lockdown, working remotely from our homes to ensure our clients urgent tech vacancies are filled, we stopped to take a look back at everything we have learnt from recruiting across the tech digital sector during this time. As one of our largest and busiest recruitment markets, we have seen some stark changes in client and candidate activity across London, and although there have of course been some tough decisions companies have had to make in this time, we have happily played a big part in transforming the careers of our candidates and helped a number of tech teams grow (remotely of course) too. Steven Williams is our recruitment manager heading up permanent software engineering roles across London, so we asked him to share his insights into what the market is doing and offer advice to clients who are looking to invest in their tech teams and grow their business both now and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic:

There has been a reduction in job posting

Due to the uncertainty that accompanied the initial lockdown we saw a lot of companies putting a hold on recruitment, focusing on adapting to the new normal of remote teams, and looking to save costs as many anticipated an impact on their business financially. While technology has not seen as much of a downturn as industries such as retail and hospitality, there were still far less jobs being actively advertised online. Indeed reports show that adverts for software developers and software engineers have almost halved in April 2020 compared with 2019 (see below), and IT Jobs Watch found that JavaScript roles advertised in the City of London were down by 2000 in the 6-month period running up to 5th May 2020 (against the same period in 2019). IT Jobs Watch also showed us that Java roles were down 3000 against the same criteria and C# roles down by nearly 3000. Python however has remained reasonably strong, only seeing a reduction in around 1000 roles. While available jobs have reduced, available candidates have increased so there is a great opportunity to fill your toughest tech vacancies right now.

Candidates are reflecting and considering a career move

As mentioned, we have seen an increase in available candidates on the market since the lockdown began, many of which are skilled in some of the toughest to find tech skills in the area. Sadly some candidates have become available as the companies they worked for have been forced to make redundancies due to the financial impacts of COVID-19, but we are also seeing a lot of candidates reach out to us after using the lockdown as a time to reflect and take stock of their career path. In some instances the candidates we are speaking to were unhappy with the way their company handled the COVID-19 pandemic and the safety and well-being of their employees, and therefore are now open to new opportunities, others simply are looking to get stuck into an exciting new project with a forward-thinking organisation! Our list of available candidates is growing by the day, and I have included a snapshot of candidates at the end of this post who are looking for software engineering opportunities in London right now.

Clients still hiring are securing great talent

With a lower amount of companies actively recruiting, and a higher number of skilled technical candidates reaching out to us directly during the lockdown, it has allowed us to place some exceptional talent with the companies that are still hiring! Where there would normally be fierce competition for a skilled software engineer in London, candidates have fewer options to apply to and far less people reaching out to them, making it easier for companies to secure great talent!

Time to hire has reduced enormously

Typically software engineer / developer roles in London aren’t always placed in a short amount of time, but due to the increase in candidates approaching us directly for new roles, and the fact that everyone is more available to take calls to discuss opportunities we have seen a huge reduction in our average time to hire. For example in April I placed a Senior JavaScript Engineer in just 8 working days, a role that would usually take much longer to fill due to the seniority of the candidate required.

Companies have embraced remote working

For the companies that already embraced a working from home culture, the shift to react to the COVID-19 lockdown has been a rather smooth one, however there are a number of companies that had a big shock to the system in taking their tech teams to a fully remote set up. Pretty much every client I have spoken to has now settled into the swing of things, and are fully embracing their new normal of working separately from home. To help with this I have been able to offer our Searchability Go video interview tool free of charge to clients to help them keep the interview process ticking over, and I will be doing this for the foreseeable to help make recruitment run a little bit smoother in this challenging time.

These are just a few of the insights we have gleamed from six weeks of working through the UK lockdown, on a personal note it has also been an eye opening experience working from home full-time myself and I have definitely enjoyed that extra time spent with my wife and children! It has definitely been made worthwhile by being able to help some of my clients grow their tech teams with exceptional talent, and find candidates who were left in a challenging situation find remote opportunities that they enjoyed too. I will continue to embrace the remote working set up for as long as this situation continues, but I will definitely look forward to getting back into the office. I’m really looking forward to working with my team again (outside of Microsoft Teams) and can’t wait for the Premier League to re-start, I’m a Liverpool fan and the thought of the first league title in 30 years being removed has caused me to lose a good few strands of hair (I seriously don’t have much to spare).

Above: Steven and son Max working from home

If you are interested in hearing about what the market is doing in your area of tech, finding out about available candidates or simply want a bit of advice about your future hiring needs then please get in touch with me at [email protected] or drop me a call on 0203 763 3888 / 07464 482 368. If you would like to see the full details for any of the below candidates I am working with please let me know. I am offering flexible payment terms & extended rebate periods to allay concerns over cash-flow or the risks of onboarding remotely.

You can connect with Steven on LinkedIn here.

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