This week, we’re talking about how addressing the skills gap can help you when hiring great engineers

Back in 2014,hackajob was started by founders Razvan Creanga and Mark Chaffey. Frustrated with the traditional recruitment agency approach to hiring, Raz had witnessed first-hand the difficulty to employ top engineering talent.

The crux of the issue? Most internal recruiters are highly focused on hiring tech talent exclusively, yet many are looking to hire across multiple frameworks at once. It’s certainly a challenge, and it’s unfair to expect internal teams to know the ins and outs of every role they’re trying to hire for. Then when engineers do speak to recruiters, more often than not they hear something like, “oh so you know java? That’s great, I’m hiring for a fantastic JavaScript role” 😐. It’s a classic example of tech recruitment becoming unintentionally lazy, and it’s why we’re on a personal mission to pave the way for technical recruitment to be based on skills, not CVs.

As frustrating as it is, that’s not the only problem. There’s a major digital skills gap in the UK, and it’s growing. According to the Financial Times, information technology faces one of the biggest labour shortages. IT is now the most in-demand skill set, with developers, programmers and software engineers being particularly sought after. When asked by the FT, the head of policy at Tech UK could only agree, stating, “we’re not producing the right skills… Businesses will go elsewhere if they can’t get access to the right people here in the UK”.

So what do we do? How do we address the gap that’s having a huge impact on businesses in the UK? And how do we communicate with the skilled workers that we so desperately need, and in the right way?

Our recommendation? Change the recruitment and hiring process. The attitude around tech recruitment needs to change and must focus on skills, not CVs. If a candidate has the skills to do a certain role well, then why shouldn’t they get the job? Unbiased hiring is the way forward, and it’s the secret to hiring great engineers.

When discussing this topic previously, we know that people want to be unbiased, but as humans, we are naturally conditioned to seek familiarity. And it’s not our fault. For example, we all like traits that we recognise in ourselves, which is why we self-select when it comes to surrounding ourselves with people who we like. It’s exactly the same scenario if you’re a recruiter, talent manager or head of HR. Ultimately, we’re all guilty of accidental bias.

Hiring based on skills, not CVs is a fantastic idea, but how do we put it into practice? At hackajob, the beauty of our platform is that we fast-track the hiring process by hiring software engineers who have already proven their ability in their specific domains. Giving candidates the opportunity to upload past projects from repositories like GitHub, we also offer coding challenges within our custom-built IDE. Allowing us to see individual skills and strengths instead of CVs and where people went to school, our AI matches candidates with the perfect companies for them. What’s more, we ensure that companies apply to candidates directly, with no recruiters involved and salaries offered upfront.

One of the best things about our platform is that it values the quality and skills of candidates above everything else. We’ve helped a full-time chef at Wagamama hang up his apron and make his passion of coding a reality, and have encouraged taxi drivers who code in their spare time to sign up and get matched with their ‘dream’ companies – their words, not ours.

Diversity should not be about ticking a checkbox. Instead, it’s about proving how brilliant individuals really are, based on their skillset. Again, it really is the secret to hiring great engineers. Looking at what they can actually do, how they’ve contributed in the past, their strengths and weaknesses. It’s not about choosing someone because they’ve got a degree from a ‘good’ university, or they wrote the best ever cover letter and they attached a photo that makes them look ‘nice’. As we wrote about in one of our previous articles, it’s experience gained on the job, commitment to projects out of work, and the lessons learnt from it all that ultimately provide the best, most-rounded experience.

Do you have any secrets to hiring great engineers? Make sure to let us know.