March Top 6 Candidates

Name Salary Overview Notice
Jason £40k VIP IT Support Engineer 

Jason holds a strong technical support background, and his most recent role provides VIP Support on a fast paced agile environment for hardware and software faults, network cabling, and support for various systems and applications.Jason’s key achievement was as a Team Lead in a previous role, mentoring a small team and becoming the primary escalation point for service desk issues. He would also conduct one-to-one performance reviews with the Service Desk Manager.

Skills: Azure Active Directory/Entra, ServiceNow, BitLocker, MDM, OneDrive, Citrix, Group Policy

Industries: Finance MME, Renewables, Housing Associations

4 weeks
Dennis £45k

or

£260
per day

 


2nd line IT & AV Support Engineer
Dennis’s proactive and forward-thinking mentality serves as a valuable asset to any employer. He embraces every opportunity presented to him and welcomes assistance and feedback, recognising their significant contributions to his ongoing learning and growth.

Throughout his previous positions, he consistently not only met but exceeded the ‘ticket resolved’ targets.

Sills: AV Equipment, VoIP, Projectors, Zoom, Teams

Industries: Legal Conferencing, Hospitality, Managed Service Provider

4 weeks
Jack £70k

or

£685
per day


Cloud DevOps Engineer
Jack is a DevOps Engineer with over five years of experience. He is skilled in infrastructure design, implementation, management, CI/CD tools, containerisation, and automation. Jack is also confident working with servers, networking devices, and storage systems to ensure optimal performance and availability.

His key successes is taking ownership and leading the migration project from on-prem to the cloud, collaborating with cross-functional teams to optimise application performance, security, and cost efficiency.

Skills: Azure AD/Entra, AWS, GCP (Google Cloud Professional) GIT, Docker, Linux, Terraform

Industries: Professional Services, Insurance, Construction

4 weeks
Sonia £55k

or
£550 per day


Data Analyst
Sonia is an immediately available Data Analyst with over five years of experience in Analysis, Reporting, Application development and Testing.

In her most recent role, she was responsible for developing databases, maintaining servers, generating reports, and automating processes

Skills: Power BI, Tableau, Oracle, SSIS, SSRS, SSAS, PL/SQL, Jira, T-SQL, ETL, and AWS

Industries: Finance, Retail, Manufacturing, HR,  Wholesale

4 weeks
Gabi £85k

or 

£700
per day

Lead Data Scientist – Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning 

Gabi is a Data Scientist with over ten years of experience in data access, management, analysis, and presentation and expertise in statistical packages and software.Gabi has applied a variety of statistical and machine learning techniques (multivariate regression algorithms (linear and polynomial), decision tree, bagging modelling, random forest, extra tree, gradient boosting KNN and Artificial Neutral Network) to develop a sustainable solution that predicts the probability of accident occurring.

Skills: ML, AI, Testing, Deep Learning, Testing, Python, Azure, BI, Oracle, SAS Tools

Industries: Market Research, Automotive, Public Sector, Law, Healthcare

Immediate
John 90k

or

£745
per day


CyberSecurity ManagerJohn is an experienced CISM-accredited Cyber Security professional with ten years experience. He is experienced in managing cyber threats, vulnerability detections, risk assessments, and security analysis. Skilled in security architecture design, policy creation, and implementing cloud technology stack.

John Spearheaded Cyber-attacks and fraud prevention within the enterprise ecosystem by stating and executing a holistic alignment to the cybersecurity strategy, mission, and vision on Data Loss Prevention & endpoint security solutions. John was the single point of escalation to executive mgt. on CyberSecurity controls.

Skills: PCI-DSS, ISO27001, OWASP,  MS Azure Security Compliance Centre, O365 Defender

Industries: Fintech, Managed Service Provider

Immediate

 

Langley James Contribute to Institute of Government & Public Policy

LANGLEY JAMES AND THE INSTITUTE OF GOVERNMENT & PUBLIC POLICY EVENT 27th APRIL 2021 8.45-16.00.

 

Langley James are proud to announce their contribution to the forthcoming event in conjunction with the Institute of Government and Public Policy to address Transforming Justice through Technology 2021. The event takes place on Tuesday 27th April 2021 from 8.45-4pm Click here for details of the event.

The Government has ambitions to deliver digital justice and high-quality rehabilitation programmes to protect the public and swiftly and accurately dispense justice. For this to be achieved, a criminal justice service that is responsive, flexible, transparent, and just and puts those whom it serves at the heart of it all, is a must. This needs to include a vision of a criminal justice system that embraces the use of modern technology.

Technology and data are the backbone of delivering an outcomes-focused system. A digital platform where the right people can securely access and share information at critical moments can integrate organisations and foster joint approaches to justice that support the user.

As individuals move from police right through to probation, secure access to technology and data can deliver the right services for users, enhance efficiencies, and transform rehabilitation outcomes. Used accordingly, technology has the power to deliver a first-class criminal justice system fit for the modern age.

Alongside this, the advancement in the use of technology needs to be matched by a look again at the culture of our criminal justice service and a re-commitment to seeing that those who provide much of the input, victims, and witnesses, are also recognised as those on whom the outcomes often depend.

8.45 am Online Registration

9.30am Chair’s Welcome Address Nick Sloan, Adviser, National Digital Public Contact Change Programme

 9.40am Keynote Address: Delivering Digital Transformation

  • Fixing the basics
  • Making things more efficient
  • Whole system thinking ,end-to-end service and policy design
  • Building diverse, inclusive, brilliant teams

10.00 am Gina Gill, Interim Chief Digital and Information Officer Ministry of Justice

10.35 am Special Keynote Session

Sophie Otter, Deputy Director Digital Prison Services & Mark Stanley, Deputy Director – Digital Probation, Ministry of Justice Digital

An Introduction Into Data Within the Ministry of Justice

  • How we can use digital services to improve our data
  • How we can use technology to better access our data
  • How we can use data science to better utilise our data to inform decisions

10.55 am Adrian Richards, Director of Data and Analytical Services, Ministry of Justice

Questions And Answers Session

11:20am Networking Break

11:40am Special Keynote: Delivering Successful National ICT Capabilities To Policing and Other Law Enforcement Bodies

  • Leveraging digital technologies, platforms, and techniques in order to deliver a profound impact for customers and their ability to protect communities.
  • Getting the best out of programmes and organisations by putting people and the customer at the heart of what you do
  • Defining and implementing an organisational technology strategy
  • Ensuring Home Office information is safe & secure.

12.00pm Michael Hill, Director of Police & Public Protection Technology (PPPT), Home Office

12.20pm Kieran Delaney, Client Services Director, Langley James

Digital Transformation: Prioritising the Needs of the Business and the People Who’ll Meet Them

  • A look at the lessons learned and wisdom gained from the failures and successes of digital transformation.
  • The critical importance of Soft Skills – Ensuring any technical expertise brought in fits well with the company vision, structure, culture and social needs.
  • How to stop tech from leading the conversation: Understanding technology and how it can benefit the enterprise architecture of an organisation, and exploring new technology driven by need.

12. 30 pm Corporate Case Study: The Future of Justice: Digital collaboration platforms powered by Benign Artificial Intelligence (AI) Chris Horton, Meganexus

  • More engagement with the service users is key to
    • Reduce reoffending.
    • Better rehabilitation
    • Better understanding of what service users’ needs and wants.
  • How benign AI can help empower service users and give professionals a better understanding of service users.
  • Digital collaboration platforms enable data collection throughout the journey of the service user.
  • More data about service users enable better understanding and better-informed decision making.

12.40pm Questions and Answers Session

1.00pm Lunch and Networking

1:40pm Afternoon Keynote: The Future of Parole Board

  • Putting the victim at the centre of everything through the better use of information
  • Enabling parole decisions to be challenged by victim or prisoner alike.
  • Creating an openness and transparency on what the Parole Board does through a range of digital channels.
  • Building better collaboration between the Parole Board and its partners through better information sharing
  • Understanding the role of the Parole Board in a post-Covid world

2:00pm Martin Jones, CEO, The Parole Board for England & Wales

2:10pm Questions and Answers Session

2.20pm Case Study: Transform Your Digital Investigations with Increased Speed, Accuracy, And Transparency Marc Lees, Magnet

  • Digital Investigation Suite: A tool for law enforcement agencies and the justice sector to meet the challenge of ever-increasing data volumes and complexity from seized devices.
  • A brief history of digital forensics to better understand the need for more collaborative, technology-driven solutions.
  • New approaches using automated processing and centralised evidence review, plus drawing insights and lessons learnt from the innovators in this space who have recognised the need to work differently.
  • Facing challenges and the opportunities around digital intelligence and the breadth and depth of the change required through investment and collaboration.

2:40pm Questions and Answers Session

2:50pm Consultation

3:50pm Chair’s Closing Address

Who Should Attend?

The Transforming Criminal Justice Through Technology 2021 event brings together senior leaders in courts, prisons, police, central government, probation services, academia, industry, and all those involved in the criminal justice sector to hear the latest policy updates and developments across the sector and address the challenges facing everyone in these unprecedented times.

Learning Outcomes

  • Deliver digital justice and high-quality rehabilitation programmes to protect the public and swiftly and accurately dispense justice.
  • Using data and technology to transform criminal-justice services.
  • Ensure that data could feed cutting-edge technologies to help police forces collect and share evidence,
  • Enable courts to make more efficient use of time.
  • Provide prisons and probation providers with the tools to tailor rehabilitation.

Benefits

  • Meet other like-minded professionals and develop new, beneficial connections.
  • Through the learning opportunities and sharing of best practice, you will be able to implement improvements in your organisation
  • Hear of leading and cutting-edge solutions from reputable providers.
  • Impact the wider agenda and be part of future planning.
  • Learn how to make the best use of key products and services that can help transform the Criminal Justice Sector
  • Maximise the potential of cutting-edge technologies to support users ongoing requirements.
  • Be part of organisations that continue to evolve, improve, and innovate.

If you have any questions regarding the event, please contact info@igpp.org.uk

Soft Skills in IT Recruitment and How to Assess Them

Soft Skills and How to Assess Them 

Assessing a candidate’s professional or ‘hard’ skill proficiency, such as technical skills, Active Directory or SQL, etc, is pretty straight forward, especially if the interviewer is experienced in the same thing. However, digging deeper into how a person ticks as a human being can be tricky for most managers if unprepared…

The concepts behind the modern terms ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills are far from new. In fact, for as long as people have been employing other people, soft skills, such as social ability, aptitude, behaviour and ethics, have always been key considerations alongside practical, hard skills. In relatively recent years, as recruiting practices and processes have become more sophisticated, skills have been categorised in various ways to help employers devise more effective methods of assessment.  

However, according to an extensive survey conducted by LinkedIn, over 60% of recruiting managers agreed that exploring soft skills in an interview is difficult. In our experience as IT recruiters, the majority of clients state early on what soft skills they need, however, few seem to have robust strategies in place to assess beyond the core, hard skill requirements, acting largely on gut feeling and assumption. 

Furthermore, in the post COVID-19 world, soft skill assessment during remote interviewing is proving especially difficult for many clients. Several managers have recently reported to us at Langley James IT Recruitment, an extra level of disconnect while interviewing online, perhaps stemming from reduced body language opportunities.  

In this blog, we will explore the nature of hard and soft skills along with useful ideas, tips and advice on how to gain better soft skill insight from your next interview, significantly raising your chances of recruiting success.

What is the difference between a soft skill and a hard skill? 

Put simply, a hard skill is a practical, measurable ability that can be learned by a person irrespective of their character traits and cognitive talent. The overwhelming majority of IT Recruitment job descriptions are dominated by hard skill requirements. Candidates in the IT sector are often judged almost exclusively on their hard skills such as programming languages, operating software experience, infrastructure implementation, etc.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are orientated around human characteristics. For example, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, communication, crisis management, etc. As such, these skills are far harder to investigate during a short interview and can be easily misjudged or misinterpreted. 

The Goal

Before creating lists of criteria and questions, start at the very beginning by asking this question: 

“What soft skills do I need candidates to demonstrate for this vacancy, and to work with me, my team, and my company?”

It is important to consider the whole picture including your company’s culture, values, standards and style in addition to your own departmental and personal staff expectations. When these elements are bolted to the list of soft skills required for the vacancy itself, you should be left with a comprehensive list.

Categories 

Now we have a good idea of what soft skills need to be investigated, separate your list and look for opportunities to merge. For example, culture fit questions may encompass the company, the department and your own needs that perhaps can be amalgamated. 

Next, identify any categories that may require deeper investigation, for example ‘leadership’ might include motivation, teamwork, delegation, etc, as subheadings.  

It is important not to lose sight of context, especially when looking into soft skills with broad terms such as communication. After all, someone’s communication skills may vary greatly depending on the scenario from delegating to a subordinate to presenting to a board of directors.

Keep in mind that unless you intend to interview someone for hours, you will have limited time. This means prioritising essential soft skills, with a view to perhaps further explore the remainder in the next stages. 

Here is an example of how to apply this method:

An IT Manager working for a reputable legal firm is looking to recruit a 2nd Line IT Engineer to support the company’s 300 users, ranging from admin staff right up to board level. In no time at all, the manager identifies a range of hard skill requirements including windows, Microsoft Office 365, Azure, etc. 

However, historically IT staff have struggled to inspire confidence with several senior people, one being the CEO. The IT Manager really wants the new IT engineer to be a great communicator with strong rapport-building skills, capable of managing user expectations and solving problems without baffling people with technical jargon. Furthermore, she wants the IT Engineer to be experienced enough to mentor junior members of the team and share their wisdom in how to get the best from stakeholder management. 

The IT Manager creates a list of soft skills she would like to explore during an interview:

 

  • Communication 
  • Relationship building 
  • Empathy 
  • Patience 
  • Leadership 
  • Adaptability 
  • Culture fit 
  • Organisation including how to prioritise 

 

 

Questions

Someone once said “the answers we get are only as good as the questions we ask” which in the case of soft skill exploration could not be more correct. To properly explore a candidate’s soft skill, exclusively ask open-ended questions to encourage full and complete answers and be interested in conversationally exploring their answers.  (click here to learn more about open questions and demands) * 

The two main soft skill question types are behavioural and situational. a behavioural interview question explores the person’s experience such as, “tell me about a time when you successfully overcame a difficult relationship…” Whereas, a situational interview question is a strictly hypothetical question. For example, “imagine you’re under a desk fixing a cabling issue when a director calls because they can’t remember their password, what would you do?”

The great thing about soft skills is that they apply to all aspects of life. How a person might support a loved one at a time of crisis, how a person might react to personal bad news while at work, how a person might feel if a colleague were promoted above them etc.  All of this will give you useful insight into how a person engages with the world and other people. So, be creative with your questions and don’t feel restricted to situations and behaviours found only in the workplace.  

Communication 

  • How do you explain complex IT solutions to non-technical people? Give an example where you failed to achieve that and what was the outcome
  • What did you learn?
  • Tell me about an occasion where your manager or colleague fundamentally disagreed with your opinion or chosen course of action.
  • How did that make you feel? 
  • What was the outcome
  • Describe a complex project you were involved in dealing with multiple stakeholders. How did you keep everyone happy and engaged?

 

 

communication cartoon

Relationship building 

  • Give me examples of personalities you’ve encountered supporting IT at the senior level. 
  • Describe the problems you encountered with them.
  • What solutions did you come up with?
  • What was the outcome?
  • Tell me about a time when you’ve needed to make a good impression and how did you do it?
  • How did that make you feel? 
  • When supporting 300 users, pleasing everyone is hard. How do ensure people are happy with your service delivery?

 

 

Relationship building cartoon

Empathy 

  • What would you do if a senior ranking member of staff shouted at you down the phone because their computer was failing to perform? 
  • Tell me about your relationships with colleagues in your last job
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to inspire others to achieve a common goal 
Empathy

Tips

  • Ask for examples every time. Understanding context is critical in assessing experience suitability. Follow up with gentle demands for more information such a “tell me more about… ” or “elaborate on…”
  • Explore the candidate’s soft skills before discussing the company brand and your own values etc. You don’t want to give them the answers before you ask! 
  • Try and keep this section of the interview conversational in an effort to draw out the candidates true personality. 
  • Try sharing some of your own anecdotal tales to give the candidate confidence in giving less guarded answers.
  • If you don’t get the answer you expect, be mindful but the candidate may not have understood the question correctly. Consider asking the same question in a different way. 
  • Try partnering hard and soft questioning by asking follow up questions. That way the interview will less disjointed, more conversational, and directly related how a person felt or behaved at the time. For example, while exploring Excel skill, ask for an example of a project involving Excel and perhaps explore decisions made along the way, people they worked with, decisions made above, how they communicated problems, etc
  • Don’t restrict yourself to the job requirements. Gain valuable insight in to their way of thinking by asking questions surrounding their hobbies, interests and personal life.  

Summary 

Soft skill questioning is no different to asking anything else in the interview process. A well thought out set of requirements coupled with deliberately prepared questions will set you on the right track for gaining that elusive insight. 

Questions can be reused as a future interviews but we would recommend that Recruiters draft up a fresh set of questions for every role. Experiment with your questions and style to figure out what works for you. As described in our previous blog on ‘candidate pre-employment testing’, there are software solutions designed to yield soft skill insight however in our experience, person to person, relatable questioning and conversation yields better, more convincing results. All it takes is the confidence to try. 

If the majority of your recruitment interviewing is done online, you might feeling a lack of body language assessment is holding you back from identifying softskills however, as demonstrated in this blog, you need not rely on body language and gut feel to explore these key vacancy requirements. 

 

How to Write a High-Performance IT Recruitment Job Description

1st Class Interviewing: Part 1 of 12

How to Write a High-Performance IT Recruitment Job Description

The Job Description is the cornerstone of every effective recruitment process. It serves as a blueprint for every role in your business and collectively, they form a complete operational architecture of your entire organisation. It is that important and an IT Recruitment Job Description requires more detail than others with technical objectives as well as broader commercial role objectives.

It is common for historic job descriptions to be passed on and reused resulting in something that is out of date from the start of the process.

The value to your business of having properly defined job descriptions is huge; by offering comprehensive, organised, and easily understood parameters in the form of a job description to guide the candidate and their line managers clarity for the candidate’s responsibilities and accountabilities. To improve on this, a ‘High Performance’ job description will in addition help to inspire a potential candidate to want the role and to understand how they can enjoy it by mapping out career progression and opportunities

In this blog by Langley James IT Recruitment we will present the essentials required to create a “high-performance job description” designed to increase recruitment results and help with the interview process and employee achievement.

What is a Job Description and What Value Does it Offer?

Put simply, the Job Description, or JD, is the foundation upon which your entire recruitment and subsequent management process is built. It is an extremely important document and well worth significant investment from you in both time and resources to get right. 

Recruitment

A properly written JD clearly describes the role’s purpose, context, core and secondary role responsibilities, and the skills, experiences and attributes required. IT Recruitment requires more specific technical skill and experience requirement. 

A good JD will help Langley James to write an advert and it will attract far more relevant candidates. 

 

Interviewing

A quality JD gives a clear structure for your candidate interviews and will keep the process honest, it will assist in structuring the questions to help you and Langley James to recruit the best people for your role and  help you to focus on what is important giving you a ready made script to how present the job and opportunity. 

 

Management

When a new recruit starts the JD will form the backbone of your management plan. Appraisals, KPIs, objectives, goals, training, and progression all stem from an accurate JD to match your expectations with their performance. Getting it right will ensure it serves as a reminder to help you deliver on the promises made during the interview. 

 

Purpose & Goals

The JD should be designed to attract candidates, the initial purpose of the JD is to pitch the opportunity to prospective candidates in a way that clearly communicates your needs while inspiring them to commit to an application, interview or job offer with a compelling and interesting presentation.

The goal is to create as much candidate interest as possible to ensure your vacancy is high on their wish list of applications.

Knowing that, do you think a job title, a list of responsibilities, and skill requirements is enough to compete with other companies fighting to secure the same talent?  

 

The Opportunity

The best way to achieve candidate interest is to sell them the benefits of joining your business focusing on what they will get out of the deal. This is what ‘The Opportunity’ really is. The trick is to focus on the likely motivators of your ideal candidate and speak to them directly, matching their needs to your offering, reinforcing it all with your brand values, culture and company story to convince them of your sincerity and authenticity.

Most candidates are looking for the following from their role

 

  • Life and Career Fulfilment
  • Power, Advancement, and Responsibility 
  • Respect (friends, family, colleagues, management, other professionals)
  • Good Health (reasonable stress, positive experience, regular/quality breaks)
  • Personal Development (new skills and experiences)
  • Family (to look after or to start one)
  • Wealth (salary, bonus, benefits)
  • Social Interactions (learning opportunities, friends, career advancement, etc)

 

This is the “what’s in it for me” piece, ensure you review your company and departmental culture and work out how you can deliver on each of these points. 

 

Tone & Style

Getting the tone right is fundamental when you speak to the candidate you want, in the first person, and appeal to their nature. You will be interested in what happen, rather than passive applications, it is more likely to attract applicants who want the job for the right reasons. Global taxi giant Uber absolutely nail this approach:

Uber Needs Partners like you. 

Drive with Uber and earn great money as an independent contractor. Get paid weekly just for helping our community of riders get rides around town. Be your own boss and get pad in fares for driving on your own schedule. 

 

Nowhere does the initial JD statement mention anything about Uber as a business or attempts to offer a list of requirements. Instead, it speaks directly to the people they want and clearly tells them what the basic life benefits are in taking the job. 

 

 

Key Role Responsibilities & Objectives

This section is simple but very important to get right. Accuracy and concise language it essential, focusing on the core objectives and tasks only. Be sure not to go off on tangents detailing the skills and requirements.

Start with the key objective(s). For example, The IT Support Engineer will deliver first class IT services to all users in the business ensuring BAU continuity, reliability, and fast action.  

Then list the most important, day to day tasks that will add up to meet the objectives. Outline the most important responsibilities of the job first. 

 

Qualification 

With the opportunity piece completed and a well-described vacancy, your interested candidate should be keen to read on and find out if they have the ‘right stuff’ to get the job that they are attracted to. To ensure maximum interest, clarity is key. 

Understand the difference between what you want and what you need and stick to the latter. The easiest way to get this right is to write a list and split it into two, detailing what is truly essential (needs) and what is desirable (wants). Then, split the list again into the following categories:

 

  • Skills
  • Experience
  • Qualifications
  • Attributes

 

This action is key to ensure candidates can accurately self-assess their suitability while also giving you valuable insight into specific candidate strengths and development areas. 

 

Other Parts of the Job Description Process to Get Right

Job Titles

 

Use the most common, universally recognised job title possible and keep it short. Anything less and you run the risk of confusion at the first hurdle. Avoid unique, playful job titles at all costs. Not only are they often judged negatively, but they completely fail to perform online. Data is searched with common keywords, not your own invention. 

 

Location

We advise that you are very clear on where the role is based, what flexibility exists for remote working, and, if appropriate, where else the candidate may need to travel and if those expenses will be covered by the company.

Eg. IT Managers will be based in our Head Office in Manchester but can work from home up to 3 days per week, expenses are not paid by the company for attending meetings at Head Office as this is not a home-based role.

 

 

Remuneration 

We advise that companies are completely open about the salary. Believing vague detail will somehow broaden the number of applicants is a common and costly mistake. In reality, candidates are likely to assume the salary to be low. Further, list every single benefit on offer. If you are unsure on details, find out. These details really do and will make a huge difference and form a key part of “The Opportunity” piece. (Follow our IT salary guides for more information)

 

Organisation

Describe where the role features in the company organisational structure, who the role reports to, and other key interactions or stakeholders. This helps the candidate imagine being in the role and suggests the job’s importance. 

 

A Few Final Tips…

  • Ensure all stakeholders have some input into your JD, especially if they are part of the interview process and management setup. Failing to do so may result in conflicts of interest and disagreements that will hinder your recruiting process. 
  • For obvious reasons – Do not use internal terminology or acronyms. 
  • Be realistic in your people expectations think what you need and be specific on IT skills and experience but some things will need to be compromised Langley James will always aim to find you the best person available at the time you are recruiting.  Being inflexible will reduce your options and delay your recruitment success. 
  •  Where possible get a colleague to assess the JD before using it to ensure it is compliant with the law. Check for discrimination, gender biases, prejudice, employee rights and employment law and remember this is continually changing. Use a reputable source such as The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development CIPD for up to date advice.
  • Reduce the language complexity to make it fast and easy to read. 
  • Be clear, open and honest 
  •  A powerful, multi-functional job description will help you at every stage of your talent attraction, recruitment and management processes. Langley James IT Recruitment can help you form your Job description, give Langley James a call today to help you find someone worth recruiting for your next IT vacancy.

Once completed, it will pave the way towards the next step: The Agency Vacancy Briefing

10 + 10 =

“Act Now for 2021 IT Recruitment”

An economic boom is on the horizon. Don’t delay your recruiting plans – act now or risk being left behind. 

A little direct? Perhaps, but it is all too common at this time of year for businesses to start planning for the New Year, instead, take action now and start your recruitment campaigns now putting you ahead in January when many more businesses will then begin their recruitment campaigns.

2021 is set to be one of, if not, the most competitive years, when many projects that had been delayed will be caught up with. Morgan Stanley projects strong global GDP growth of 6.4% for 2021 while the excitable mainstream media predicts the start of a “roaring twenties” era for us all. With so many sectors expected to rebound at the same time, never, in modern times at least, has the commercial playing field been so level for so many. Titans will fall and minnows will rise as our riled and turbulent economy starts to settle into a fresh new order. 

The question is, are you ready for the most aggressive commercial race of our age?

A Level Playing Field Means Fierce Competition for Talent and Resources

If most markets are set for simultaneous phases of rapid growth – being first having never mattered more. In critical areas of the IT recruitment market, COVID-19 has had little effect on talent shortages and so, come 2021, after the initial feeding frenzy is over, do not expect IT recruitment to be easy or less time-consuming. The best advice is to act now and get in touch with us before the frenzy begins.

career growth

Rising National Unemployment Rates Won’t Mean More IT Candidates

Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security believing that rising unemployment means it’s a talent buyers’ market. Sure, if you are recruiting a team of production operatives or account managers, then yes, you’ll be able to simply post an advert and watch the CVs flood in. However, if you are chasing a first-class .Net Developer, BI Analyst, or Cloud Infrastructure Engineer you’re in for a shock. In 2021, demand for niche talent will rise sharply making it even harder to attract and secure the best people. Even if you are not quite ready to recruit, act now, and start the process. Contact Langley James in advance to start building talent pools and setup some early conversations to get ahead of the game.   

 

Review Your Recruitment Process ASAP

2020 has caused hiring freezes, multi-signature procurement decisions, and cautious, fear-driven process extensions. In short, current business action is slow. Most recruitment assignments that do make it past the ‘sign-off’ stage are faced with increased process stakeholders, extended candidate interview hurdles, and general hesitation. Given what we have discussed above, how competitive do you think your recruitment process is? 

Let’s be clear – you are competing with Hiring Managers with flexible budgets and the power to offer a candidate a job during or immediately after an interview. In talent, short areas such as IT, skill assessments, psychometric testing, and 3+ interview stages are luxuries that will slow you down and significantly reduce your chances of securing your candidate. We’re not saying make knee-jerk, ill-informed decisions. Far from it. Instead, be very clear on what you need, what you’re able to compromise on, invest time into creating a robust, high value but lean interview plan, and prepare to make offers quickly should you need to. 

Plan for Competition with a Strong Offer Strategy 

Before the sign off stage, talk to us at Langley James about the market and local talent competition. In skill short, high demand niche areas, failing to plan for recruitment competition is foolish. Assuming that going back to your management team, post-signoff, for more money is undesirable, pre-empt the inevitable with an offer strategy that includes an ability to negotiate and raise offers. In 2021, competition is going to be fierce.

To ensure your salary budget is in line with the market have a look at our salary guide which we publish monthly, these are the average salaries of what candidates are seeking and roles are advertised, you may need to consider paying more that the average, but we understand that is easier said than done as it may knock out the whole IT department salary budget.

Expect Attack

While you read this, your employment competitors are already plotting to attack the talent market, which will include them trying to entice your staff. They too have powerful recruitment partners with extensive candidate networks and persuasive pitches. Putting off your battle plans until the new year gives them the advantage. By the time you’re ready to hire, they will have already engaged the market and may have already met many candidates some of which may be your own staff. Our advice is to start planning today and start taking decisive action.   

Bottom Line – It’s December 2020 right now with plenty of working days until the 24th so, get ahead of the rat race and meet some candidates while they are available. With digital interviewing, it has never been so easy to put an hour aside to talk, so call Langley James and make a start. You will not regret it.

Give real thought to your existing processes and talk to us about them. They are meant to make your business run smoothly and efficiently so if your recruiting process is slowing you down causing a commercial disadvantage, consider changing it. The process is not law and is yours to change! 

Speed is of the essence. Take action today. 

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All You Need To Know About IT Contractor Interviews

The Difference Between an IT Contractor Interview Vs Permanent Employee Interview

IT Contractor interviews are different than interviews held for a permanent employee. Generally, line managers will not be carrying out psychometric tests, or second and third interviews. As a line manager, you may only have an hour to assess whether to hire the contractor.

In the interview, the IT contractor is likely to sell their skills, professional contractors are normally well prepared, knowing they have about an hour to win the contract.

As a line manager, you will be analysing if the IT contractor has the right skills, experience, attitude and personality to fit with the existing team and whether they have sufficient skills and experience to warrant their fee.

If a line manager invests time in getting the most out of the contractor interview, and remember that they are not recruiting an employee, they are probably more liking to make more effective contractor recruiting decisions.

Before the interview – preparation

The IT contractor has been invited to interview because their CV ticked all the boxes, but CV’s can be misleading by asking the right questions a line manager can identify if the IT Contractor is right for the project, recruiting the wrong IT Contractor can be an expensive mistake.

career growth

 IT contractor interview Questions

Line Managers should consider asking the following questions during an interview with an IT Contractor

  1. Talk to me about when you have used these skills in another project, what went right and what could have gone better
  2. Give me an example of when you have used your own initiative to make a different to a previous project?
  3. How do you feel about working alone or with a team?
  4. What is your expectation on being managed?
  5. Talk to me about different business cultures you have worked in during previous contracts and what have you done to ensure that you fitted in to the team.
  6. Tell me how you ensure you achieve your deadlines
  7. How have you made a difference to a project you have previously worked on.
  8. How do you ensure you understand the projects requirements fully?
  9. Tell me about a time when  a project you have worked on has gone wrong and how you have overcome it.
  10. What do you know about this organisation?
  11. What do you know about this project?
  12. Do you have any evidence of your impact on a previous projects profitability and how it impacted on the business.

IT Contractor and their Communication Skills

During the interview, a line manager will also establish if the IT Contractor has strong communication skills. The main factors they will look for include;

  • Do they have good eye contact?
  • Do they answer the question that was asked or do they go off on a tangent?
  • Do they listen or do they justify what they want to say?
  • What is their body language saying?
  • Do they ask questions that are relevant?
  • Do they use silence?
  • Is the contractor skilled for the position? Can they achieve what we need them to?
  • Can they work on their own and use their initiative?
  • Are they likeable and will fit into our organisation’s culture?
  • Are they clearly focused on project delivery?
  • Do they have good communicate skills?
  • Can they offer some added value, more than the other candidates, which could help give the organisation an edge?
  • Do they try hard to understand the project requirements, by asking lots of questions?
  • Do they seem keen and a hard worker and prepared to get really stuck in?
  • Do they appear to be genuinely interested in the project?
  • Are they a positive person who will motivate others or a negative merchant of doom?
  • Are they a good listener?
  • Do they know anything about our business/organisation and the market sector?
  • Is the contractor commercially aware?

A good IT contractor will have the same checklist to work through from their perspective and will be trying to reassure the interviewer that they are the best person for the job.

What sends alarm bells ringing?

As a line manager, you will be likely to recognise during the interview that the contractor might not be the right person for this particular contract, or that they might not fit in with your organisational culture. Common warning signs include:

  • The IT contractor focuses too much on how the role would be good for them rather than the client
  • The IT contractor does not really address the organisations problems or explain how their skills and experience will solve them
  • The IT contractor may exaggerate or boast.
  • The  IT contractor is a bad listener, talks too much, and doesn’t directly answer questions
  • The IT contractor interrupts the interviewer 
  • The IT contractor has obviously not prepared for the interview and lacks understanding
  • The IT contractor demonstrates a lack of commercial awareness 
  • The IT contractor lacks interest in the organisation and project and demonstrates poor knowledge.

Making your IT Contract Recruitment decision

IT contractors that have long term successful contracting careers will also have good selling skills in addition to their core expertise. 

At the end of the interview, an experienced and prepared IT contractor will normally ask for the business and attempt to close the deal, assuming of course that they want to work on the project.

As a line manager if you are not ready to make a decision at the interview you can schedule a time to get back to the, however, remember that a good contractor, even in depressed market conditions, will almost certainly have other options. So, do take time to deliberate over the decision, but do not prevaricate.

Once the contract offer has been made, the negotiation stage begins once again preparation is very important.

Langley James IT Recruitment has been established since 1999 and specialises in recruiting IT Contractors throughout the UK across all business sectors contact Langley James on  0207 788 6600  

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How to Retain Your IT Staff Before It’s Too Late

Act Now to Retain Your IT Staff Before its Too Late

As we race towards the end of a somewhat eventful 2020, we’ll soon be bracing ourselves for the annual surge in people all over the country reflecting and deciding to change jobs. Twice a year, in January and September (ish), people return to work following a break with new-found and ambitious plans to further themselves and their careers. With less than a month to go before Christmas, here are some immediately actionable IT staff retention ideas highlighting what to address before it’s too late. 

Job Role Growth and Progression

It is human nature that we want to better ourselves. The strive for growth is a natural progression all employees go through during their careers.  It would be unrealistic to expect an employee not to toy with the idea of moving on to a better position, whether it be within your company, or elsewhere, no matter how loyal they are. Internal flexibility is a favorable attribute that, if you have the means to implement, is likely to enhance employee retention.

This is the idea of being open to moving employees around and letting them find their talents and discover what they are best at. You may find that an employee you originally placed in one role, finds their niche and performs to a higher standard elsewhere just by giving them some flexibility to try their hand at new projects. Obviously, it is not always possible to offer that level of flexibility to employees, depending on the size and scale of the business. In this case, challenge your staff, and provide them with a higher level of responsibility. This will alleviate the tedium and create a feeling of purpose and worth.

career growth

Work-Life balance

Although it may be frowned upon by some employers, it should come as no surprise when people say they would prefer to work only standard or flexible hours so that they can spend more time focused on other commitments.

It can be easy for employers to overlook the bigger picture – a poor work-life balance will not only impact employee but their spouse, family and many other aspects of their life. According to the Mental Health Foundation, over a quarter of employees in the UK feel depressed due to their work-load, and a further 58% feel irritable because they struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Workload plays a significant part in employee satisfaction and ultimately can influence an employee’s decision on whether they stay or leave. Projects are often time-oriented, do not assume that if an employee continues on with tasks beyond scheduled working hours that it is because they love their job and want to be there, which of course can be the case, but not in all instances. A feeling of pressure will profoundly impact upon an individual and force them into working beyond their contentment. If an employee is showing signs of stress and continue working beyond what is expected of them, then perhaps it is time to discuss with the individual ways to manage their time more effectively. 

lack of recognition

Lack of Recognition 

Measuring how appreciated an employee feels is one of the most difficult things to gauge, but one of the most important. According to a recruitment survey conducted a few years back, a simple “thank you” to your employees is worth £1,608 a year. Lack of recognition or appreciation can cause an employee to feel undervalued and unsure of how they are performing, which can ultimately lead to anxiety and stress. People perform to a much higher standard when they feel valued and a boost in confidence can have a staggering impact on the standard of work produced by your employees. If you are finding that employees are disengaged, yearly appraisals simply will not suffice. Higher engagement levels will greatly benefit both you and your employees. Making small alterations such as implementing an open door policy, and setting goals and targets for your staff to reach, will get conversation flowing, and feedback and recognition can be easily carried out. 

“The Job wasn’t what I expected”

This is the age-old tale of someone who has taken a job with certain expectations, and has been left feeling disappointed, or worse, misled when the role they undertook was not as it was expected to be.

As a recruitment agency, when we ask why people are looking to move, a large number respond with “the job didn’t meet my expectations”. Often the problem is that the job description that was presented to the employee doesn’t match the role. The ambiguity of a role prior to an employee starting with your company can be far more critical than you would anticipate. People place a large amount of trust in the employer to provide them with the most accurate depiction of what they will be undertaking as part of their new role. Often it can simply be that the employee has misunderstood the job role, however, sometimes the employer has deliberately misled them into a job.

To prevent your employees from making a move, take measures to ensure that they have a clear picture of what is expected of them. If you have a resentful employee, address it now before the situation becomes irreversibly toxic.    

Training and Development 

If someone is feeling dissatisfied with their ability to complete their duties due to lack of knowledge, satisfaction levels will suffer and you are likely to lose them from your team. Providing training and development at work poses great benefits to both you and the employee. It is crucial in keeping your employees engaged while, at the same time, benefiting you with duties and tasks being completed to a greater standard. Enhancing knowledge through the appropriate training will increase confidence, and ultimately help you to retain staff. It will give the employee the opportunity to address weaknesses and to improve on those weaknesses before they make the decision to leave on their own accord.

The bottom line – ignore these things at your peril. It can be easy to miss the red flags, especially if you have a large team, however, staff job satisfaction is an emotional issue and requires an emotional, empathic response. Best advice would be to assume that everyone might be dissatisfied and to explore everyone’s situation equally. Tackle it now and you stand a good chance of cooling your staff’s motivations to leave. 

Soft Skills Gaining Importance in IT Recruitment

Soft Skills gaining importance in IT Recruitment

 

Adaptability is a priority in IT Recruitment…

IT Recruitment experts have been persuading employers to weigh a candidate’s soft skills over their hard skills when recruiting. Employees can learn technical skills on the job, while things like collaboration or creativity are often more challenging to nurture.

Until recently, there has been little focus on soft skills. Plus, in a pre- Covid candidate-driven market, it was difficult to find good candidates without adding more requirements

Now mid pandemic, the stakes could not be higher. In no time at all,  the lowest unemployment rate in recent history transform into one of the highest as the pandemic runs rampant through the economy.

The impact on recruiting has been high. Most companies are recruiting on more restricted budgets with fewer resources. Suddenly, a soft skill like adaptability is one of the best qualities a candidate can have.

Employers’ priorities have changed. Maybe it took a pandemic to finally prioritize soft skills.

Leading up to the pandemic, soft skills were always a factor for recruiting decisions, but they were not essential requirements. Traits like adaptability and flexibility have always been requested in a candidate, but not necessarily compulsory.  

In this current market, employees who are not adaptable or flexible, open to frequent changes in priorities, and can demonstrate a history of that, are not being offered the job!

So what does adaptability look like?

  • Willing to help with tasks as needed, even if someone was hired for something different
  • Taking over a colleague’s role 
  • Working on a different project than qualified for.

In today’s new paradigm, flexibility, strong communication skills, and the ability to adapt as working conditions evolve are the most important qualities a candidate can have. This is a shift in priorities that we at Langley James IT Recruitment are seeing across many sectors.

A survey carried out in July 2020 of 700+ recruiters on everything from how they were using their time during COVID-19, to whether or not they were on a hiring freeze. The results demonstrated a resilient picture during this crisis. When it came to skills prioritised in recruiting, over 60% of respondents agreed that they will need to recruit employees with skills that were not necessary pre-pandemic. These included: 

  • Adaptability (68%)
  • Communication (60%)
  • Technology proficiency (58%)
  • Resilience (47%)
  • Change management (28%)

 Why are these skills considered “new” by recruiters in 2020? Experts have been practically screaming this to employers for years to prioritise such skills.

Maybe it took extreme external pressure to change old habits and priorities. With Businesses across all sectors are facing new levels of uncertainty, we are seeing soft skills come into their own. The challenge going forward, though, will be how to screen for them.

The Impact on Screening

Perhaps another reason why recruiters have been slow to prioritise soft skills is that these skills can be tricky to measure. Employers need to standardise screening for soft skills through a mixture of behavioral interviewing and automated assessments during their hiring process to help recruit managers address and measure capabilities accordingly. Here are three best practices we at Langley James IT Recruitment have found can help:

  • Apply empathy. It’s important to screen for adaptability, but you also have to show candidates your business is adaptable and empathetic, too. While the pandemic has resulted in a plethora of candidates to the market, that doesn’t mean recruiting will be easy. Most employees want to feel safe in their place of work and know that their employer will look after them if they get sick.
  • Apply behavioral interviews. Communication is part of daily work, and the best way to know if a candidate has good communication skills is to understand how they handled situations in the past. Behavioral interviewing allows you to do just that and role-play to understand those experiences.
  • Apply automation. Automated assessments allow for reduced bias and the ability for recruiters to cast a wider net. 

It is difficult to predict whether the prioritisation of soft skills will become normalised after COVID-19, . The workplace is changing and the things that make people human —  empathy, creativity, resilience, and emotional intelligence — will always remain the greatest assets as employees.

 

Pro Tips for Ensuring Your New Hire Starts and Stays

Pro Tips for Ensuring Your New Hire Starts and Stays

Pro Tips for Ensuring Your New Hire Starts and Stays

She accepted! Slumping into your chair with a grin and a sigh you realise you’ve beaten the competition, filled a critical vacancy and above all, landed the talent you wanted. Fears of restarting the search begin to fade. No more remote interviews, tactical conversations, decisions, or pressure. It’s Easy Street’ from this point on. Job done. Just sit back, relax and wait for the new superstar to arrive.

Sorry to burst your celebratory bubble but the game is still on! Research by The Wynhurst Group found that a staggering 22% of staff turnover occurs within the first 45 days of employment. To make matters worse, those stats don’t include candidates dropping out before their start dates. Shut the front door I hear you say!

Eager as you may be to move on, the period between the candidate’s acceptance and start date is fraught with peril. Avoid an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude and plan to avoid the predictable risks of inaction.

Here are a few of the major pitfalls and some ideas to help avoid them.

Time Kills all Deals

If you think your chosen candidate is great, so too will other people including current bosses, recruiters, ex colleagues, network connections and of course, other rival employers. Even the candidate’s own sense of entrepreneurialism can derail your plans. With so many people working from home now, in the daily habit of job searching, the threat of losing them is very real.  

Your best weapon against all of them is speed. On the day of offer, strike while the iron is hot by having the offer letter and contracts ready to send, ideally by both email and post. Help them to feel part of the team at this early stage by ensuring the letter contains warm, welcoming details describing the plan, before and after, their start date, including any special instructions for remote working if appropriate.  

Encourage them to resign at the first opportunity by asking for a start date commitment and keep in touch throughout their notice period. If you’re using an agency, check the consultant is in touch with the candidate too. 

Counter Offers

Your desirable candidate is good and will likely be offered more money to stay with their current employer. Remember your own recruiting headaches – Even if the company is upset by the resignation, it is often cheaper and easier to increase a salary instead of the expense and effort of recruiting someone new. Expect counteroffers.

two businessmen sat arount the table cartoon

Counteroffers can generally be beaten simply by making a good offer in the first place combined with a challenging and exciting career opportunity. Generally, people move for emotional, career-focused reasons and not for money however, the salary is still important. Offering someone a like for like salary leaves you wide open for a challenge. Ensure the whole package is appealing to ensure your candidate won’t be talked into staying.  Wise employers keep some of the recruiting budgets aside just in case they need to increase the offer.

 

Make a plan, work the plan  

Before starting a recruitment campaign, think about the end and map the process journey in between. The end, by the way, is when a happily inducted, settled and well performing employee successfully passes their contracted probation period. Depending on your contracts, this may be up to 6 months. Plan events for every stage from casual team introductions to more involved professional meetings during the notice period, first day induction, job objective setting, reviews and appraisals. Stick to the plan and pay attention to red flag signals of discontent. Addressing issues quickly will help to overcome any risk.  

First (Day) Impressions Count

For a new starter, there is nothing worse than feeling like an afterthought on day one. Book time to properly prepare for your candidate’s first day and ensure all required personnel is informed and equally prepared ahead of time. Ideally, include an induction timetable in the welcome letter with clear instructions on what to expect. Remote starters are more challenging, so ensure they are made to feel welcome. We have seen companies set up a ‘buddy’ system rota with a select group of colleagues who can help and guide your newbie through their early days. WhatsApp groups, teams, etc are just some of the digital solutions you might consider.  

Avoid the classic unprepared faux pas by arranging for all equipment including pens, phones, computers, etc are with them, ready to use before the candidate sits down on day one. 

If they are working on-site, don’t let them loose at midday to find their own way. During the morning, invite them to join you and/or members of the team for lunch to immediately build rapport and allay any social fears. 

Be imaginative with your welcome approach. Google search some ideas of what others have done. You might be surprised! 

16.45% of all candidates leave their job within the first week due to a ‘bad’ first impression.

Assumption is someone’s mother

During the first 45 days, your new employee is constantly assessing, comparing, and judging the reality of the job versus the dream-like picture painted during the interview process. Don’t allow their polite reluctance to complain to lull you into a false sense of security. Find out. 

Create opportunities for open conversation and encourage honest feedback throughout the induction process and beyond. Address issues as they arise and take immediate action where possible to demonstrate your desire to support them. 

 

And Finally… 

Manage expectations. It’s the secret to the whole show. Meet commitments, be honest about the job and company culture, and stay in touch with them as much as possible.

Top 3 IT Manager Interview Questions

Top 3 IT Manager Interview Questions

IT Manager Interview Questions and Answers

Want to learn the most essential IT Manager interview questions? This article aims to give you an overview of what the IT manager role entails and what you should be asking candidates when applying to become one, in order to assess whether they are the right fit for your company. Equally, if you are wanting to become an IT manager, this article gives insight into the types of questions will be asked during the interview process.   

What is an IT manager? 

IT teams are no longer workers consigned out of sight, out of mind in a company’s lower floors. Technology has taken over and assumed a greater part in the business world and as such, IT workers are now more important than ever. This has placed a greater responsibility on their leaders – the IT manager.

Not only do they IT managers have to ensure they’re capable of fixing a wide variety of tech problems, but they must also make sure the same is true of their team. This is not just fixing phones and laptops, it’s upgrading software, connecting whole departments to apps like  Microsoft Teams, making sure they can connect with international clients and partners. This is just a tiny segment of what’s now involved within the job role. 

Given the huge responsibility placed on the IT managers themselves, it is now more important than ever that when businesses hire candidates for the job role, they assess whether the individual has the exact skill set required of an IT manager. In order to assist businesses with the recruitment process, we have collated a top 3 list of interview questions to ask IT managers. 

  1. Explain the steps for recommending new software for an organisation as an IT manager

This is a very important IT manager interview question.

An IT manager conducts reviews of the current software used by an organisation and how it’s used. 

They are also responsible for coordinating, planning and leading computer-related activities in an organisation. They help determine the IT needs of an organisation and are responsible for implementing computer systems to fulfil the organisations information systems requirements. 

Consequently, this question is extremely important for businesses who are interviewing a new IT manager to assess their experience in evaluating IT systems and services, their understanding of when upgrades or changes are feasible and their commitment to staying abreast of the latest business software. 

2. Why is it important to create a training program for staff when new systems are integrated? 

As aforementioned, IT managers work in close proximity to IT teams who develop new systems and software. Each service or system requires a training program for their staff members that shows them how to use the new technology correctly. 

The prime motivator for employee training is to improve productivity and performance. It is extremely advantageous from an employers perspective to provide employers with the expertise they need to fulfil their role and make a positive impact on your business to help the company avoid delays in service and save time. You can also track the training your employees have taken, which, through insightful reports, you know if your employees are up to date with their training regimes. 

For this question, employers have the ability to acknowledge a candidate’s experience designing training programs for new systems as well as their aptness to coordinate with clients to train employees. An IT manager should be comfortable with setting up training programs and regimes, regardless of the size. They should also understand the vast benefits associated with said training from a company perspective – highlighting any internal weaknesses, consistency within the teams as well as a positive team dynamic – all of which translate into productive and efficient output. 

3. How did you allocate budgets for past projects? 

This question is integral for employers when interviewing an IT manager candidate. 

A solid budget service serves as a road map for a business owner to ensure they are on track to meet their goals as they navigate through each month, quarter and year. This curbs unbridled spending – saving the company money and keeps stakeholders on the same page. 

Within their job description, it is an IT managers responsibility to review the requirements for the projects and allocate funds appropriately so they do not overspend and equally distribute money to the necessary departments for the project to function appropriately. 

An employer should analyse the candidates knowledge about defining what a project budget actually entails. They should reflect on their experiences dealing with budget allocation – providing specific examples backed with sufficient justification as to why they managed the budget in this manner. It is important that the ideal candidate shows efficiency at answering how they manage budgets in line with the budgetary constraints in place, otherwise they could cost the company money and time! 

For more information regarding IT managers, view our job searchers now. Our updated salary guide also highlights their current average salary across the country for August.