The Last Word March/April 2023: Martin Hartley

Good things come to those who wait

While much of the mainstream press is signalling doom and gloom for the tech sector in the wake of the big tech layoffs, it can only mean a purple patch for the UK’s tech recruiters and good news for large sections of the tech community.

Lest you think that sounds heartless, there is still a huge supply issue in the IT industry. There are also parts of the industry that, while saturated in recruitment terms, are desperate for the kind of talent that is coming to market.

To be blunt, the number of layoffs, although high, is still a drop in the ocean when you look at the shortage of talent.

A 2022 Tech Nation report (supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Digital Economy Council) reported there were a staggering 2m tech job vacancies in the UK alone, while in the US, hiring expectations are such that the market will rise by 35% this year.

Those skilled workers who have lost their jobs have worked for great organisations, have brilliant CVs and will be snapped up very quickly – many of them already have been. London-based fintech Revolut announced on 1 February that it was taking on 1,700 new workers.

For recruiters, this is great: they’ve got more choice, they’ve got more people to speak to, more options and a variety of credible and very talented professionals to put in front of their clients.

They can also challenge the status quo in niche verticals where it has been very difficult to find people.

For example, the software development space, while heavily represented in the recruitment sector, is also the space which is the hardest to recruit for. That space and its recruiters will have the biggest wins from the layoffs because they will see the biggest uptake in available talent.

Similarly, product development will be another winner. Coming to market are some of those professionals who are used to designing products for big tech. Many companies including start-ups and consultancies would love to get their hands on them but probably realistically never had a chance. It’s a different story now.

There is also a genuine buzz among clients about having someone of that experience in their ranks; someone who is experienced at delivering a big project and going through large processes and protocols and go-to-market strategies.

Whatever side of the fence you are on as a recruiter, you win”

And while start-ups and consultancies cannot compete on salary, they can potentially offer investment and equity opportunities, recognition, a bigger job role and more work-life balance. Right now, recruiters of all sizes are competing for these workers, so whatever side of the fence you are on as a recruiter, you win.

Markets are opening up and there will be a relocation of skillsets so it’s time for recruitment owners and executive leadership teams to look at their location strategies and assess where the market is moving, not least because there’s huge money in it for them.

With an average £10-15k or more to be made on a placement, there are millions and millions of pounds to be made from what is going on in tech for recruiters, who in turn are enabling a timely redistribution of much-needed talent. It’s a win-win for all, and I guarantee that in six months, all the big tech workers laid off will be happily redeployed.

Martin Hartley is UK managing director of emagine, a management and technology consulting firm

Image credit | James Robinson

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