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Flaws in tech recruitment process causing candidate skills mismatch

The research surveyed senior decision-makers across UK startups, scaleups and enterprise businesses industry-wide. Key findings revealed that applications for technical roles are healthy – with firms across the board receiving an average of 15 applications per role, with startups topping the average at 18 per role. But despite this, the process to filter relevant candidates and validate skills is failing – 34% of decision-makers reveal they do not have a separate recruitment process for technical hires.

While worrying UK tech skills shortage headlines continue to dominate the news agenda, a survey* released today reveals that a fractured recruitment process is hindering businesses’ access to the right tech talent; 74% of businesses are failing to complete any relevant testing and a further 32% are relying on non-technical specialists to hire tech talent. One in four (24%) candidates are also being hired without the right tech skills.

The research* came from a survey of senior decision-makers across UK startups, scaleups and enterprise businesses industry-wide. Key findings revealed that applications for technical roles are healthy – with firms across the board receiving an average of 15 applications per role, with startups topping the average at 18 per role. But despite this, the process to filter relevant candidates and validate skills is failing – 34% of decision-makers reveal they do not have a separate recruitment process for technical hires.

Additional key survey findings:

  • Over a quarter (27%) rely on standard interviews, which fail to assess candidates’ aptitude and technical skills for a role
  • 59% of technical hires can take over a month to complete, while one fifth of technical hires can take up to 6 months; the technical hiring process is too lengthy for firms that need to deliver at pace.
  • At least half (50%) of businesses are putting up to 60% of technical candidates through to the next stage of interviewing; a process that’s wasting time and money
  • Only 7% said that new technical hires can hit the ground running and deliver value immediately, while nearly half of new hires (45%) demonstrate they don’t have all the right skills, with businesses having to invest further in them once hired.

While the Government’s most recent Employer Skills Survey (2022) confirms 10% of UK businesses do in fact have a skill-shortage vacancy, up from 6% in 2017, these findings from Mobilunity’s report suggests that poor recruitment practices may hold back employers from identifying the right skills for the right role when it comes to technical hires.

Cyril Samovskiy, Founder of Mobilunity, said: “The fact that nearly half of candidates impress at interview stage, but underperform once in the role, is no surprise given the apparent absence of testing and skill-validation. There’s clearly an urgent and growing need among businesses for tech expertise, and our survey findings suggest that the reasons behind the much-documented shortfall may not be as simple as saying ‘talent is lacking’.

“The results highlight that companies are not utilising technical specialists to validate skillsets, with many bypassing any testing beyond a standard interview and putting an excessive amount of candidates through to the next stage. The result of this? They are  taking too long to recruit technical hires, who are then unable to deliver quickly on projects, risking their bottom lines and competitiveness in the market. Yet another worrying risk to business is recruiting the wrong people for the wrong roles. It’s a broken process costing businesses critical time and money. Especially in unpredictable economic times, where the trend for project work is overtaking retained work, change in the processes for hiring technical talent is long overdue.”

Offering advice to businesses looking to recruit tech talent, Cyril adds: “To avoid the pitfalls, those in charge of technical hires must have a dedicated approach to recruitment. This means a combination of technical platforms that assess and matchmake skills relevant to needs, and interviewers who know the right questions to ask.

“By putting in smart steps to validate the competency of candidate skills and really getting to know your projects and roles required before you start the process, you can massively improve the process, and deliver accurate hiring outcomes that will deliver value from day one.”

*The research from Mobilunity was carried out online by Research Without Barriers – RWB between 15th December 2023 and 4th January 2023.The sample comprised 539 people responsible for making technical hires in UK companies with 10+ employees.

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