Rather than an outside-looking in third party, your hiring goals are also our hiring goals. We minimise the time you spend looking at CVs and doing interviews by eliminating unsuitable applicants using mutually agreed criteria.
To keep recruitment campaigns on track – and to make them completely visible – we provide simple to use, web-based software to all customers as the backbone of their new hiring process. We assign a dedicated Account Manager to oversee all hiring activity, spend at least one day each week on site and report on the results of our Research Team’s extensive coverage.
For growing organisations, recruitment processes tend to evolve organically until such a time as centralised control becomes either affordable or necessary. The result is resistance to change from hiring managers accustomed to complete autonomy and the cost of appointing an internal recruiter. By planning and implementing hiring processes on engagement without charging a fee, Talent Point lay the foundations for seamless future hiring.
Where recruitment agencies are already being used Talent Point can maintain these relationships on behalf of your firm, widening our coverage to include preferred recruiters for specialist or non-standard vacancies.
“Added value” may be a cliché, but by keeping our fees identical to those of a recruitment agency this is exactly what Talent Point delivers. Rather than hundreds of companies we barely know, our time is invested in a small number of customers with whom we have extremely close, contractual relationships. The result is far greater resources with absolutely no increase in cost.
Where technology is critical to growth, Talent Point can deploy interviewing and research to report on what needs to change. Our research helps PEs, VCs and trade buyers make sound investment decisions around IT-centric businesses. Typically we provide structured reports containing in-depth analysis of the following:
Once investment has occurred we determine a department structure and hiring plan geared to realise specific growth targets. We consider what the market can support to produce the most efficient IT department possible.
We find out how you recruit now and the results this approach has yielded in terms of meeting business goals
We define and document a recruitment process and employer brand that your hiring managers and future employees can all buy into
Through salary, skills and competitor surveys we edit jobspecs and design campaigns that result in the right long term hire
Our multi-channel sourcing casts a wide net but at the same time controls the way your company is represented and marketed
We absorb screening activity to deliver three applicants alongside a “piece of mind” report detailing all borderline rejections
Receive a Market Report and Job Specification including likely sources of applicants, salary levels and suggested team structuring.
Receive emailed prompts for all required actions and notifications for all stakeholders whenever an agreed milestone is missed.
Thorough process tracking records all hiring activity across every campaign for performance review at the touch of a button
Fixed, multi-level workflows ensure processes are followed and SLAs adhered to with no involvement from senior management outside key approval points.
What he said: I pride myself on being the most genuine, honest and customer focused recruiter in the market. My aim is to change the way people see IT Recruitment Consultants (although I really hate that job title!) and try to build trust through delivery not sales talk. When I’m not in the office or on customer site I’m usually watching games in my Emirates box, on the golf course or in a restaurant building relationships with IT leaders. My favorite food is vodka and diet coke and I once helped a minor celebrity break out of the Priory.
Specialism: Business Advisory, Delivery of Recruitment Services, Process Design, Brand design, Stakeholder Management, CTO Careers, Remote Working
What he said: I manage key accounts for Talent Point and First Point covering a wide range of services including Project Managers, Business Analysts, Programme Managers, Service Delivery Managers, Senior Managers / Directors, Developers, Architects, Testing, Application / Desktop Support, Data Warehouse, etc. My work has a strong emphasis on quality, expert at fully understanding business needs and technical environments and matching closely to applicant skills, experience, team fit, motivation and career objectives. I have built a strong reputation on delivery, transparency and trust. Out of work I mainly spend time with my wife and two young sons or – when time permits – fit in some networking on the golf course. I’m very familiar with Berkshire’s finest restaurants, have my own butler and enjoy the classic comedy of greats such as Bob Monkhouse and Jim Bowen.
Specialism: Business Advisory, Stakeholder Management, Role Planning, Project Management and Business Analysis Careers, Bob Monkhouse
What he said: I’m a tech evangelist for emerging technologies and the go to person for hard to source tech roles. I understand tech, know how it fits in with business, advise companies what they can get for their buck and then deliver first time. I work with a highly talented team of resources and other consultants, I love what I do and am now trying to turn the perception of recruitment around. I have 3 young children, a fiancée and a cat (called fifi) so spare time is a luxury. I try and manage my day so I at least put the kids to bed and see them at the weekend, outside of that I’m on email, on the phone or annoying my fiancée but constantly checking email… reality is I have no life and spare time. My favorite food is POT NOODLE – any day, any time. Can you class paracetamol and ibuprofen as food? I appeared on playschool back in the day. I was through the round window and Humpty Dumpty was eating a picnic with me.
Specialism: Java, Front End and Open Source Careers, Business and Technical Advisory, Explaining IT Concepts, Interview Coaching and Training, Pot Noodle
What she said: I’m Vicky, Britain’s top DevOps/ AppSupport Recruiter. I specialise in all things Linux – it’s just a gift! I love speaking to people and learning all about them, their life, their motivations and of course what exciting position I can find them next. In my spare time I can be found relaxing with a glass of Vino over Eastenders, I mean come on- even us top Linux folk need a break sometimes! A devout Vegetarian I love anything cooked with Veg and maybe even a cheeky bit of cheese. I have been to Vegas 14 times and have another 2 trips scheduled this year!
Specialism: Linux, Dev Ops and Application Support Careers, Careers Advisory, Account Management, Vegas
What he said: I’m Mark, Reading’s answer to Belfort from Wolf Of Wall Street (I’m inspirational in the leadership and motivation of others). Alongside that I run the Business Analysis and Project Management desk, recruiting for SME’S across the UK. I head up a team who’s only goal in life is to source and select applicants to keep our customers firing on all cylinders. When I’m not travelling the world on my 60ft yacht you will find me spending quality time with my 3 children (all girls) oh and of course the misses. Being the slim athletic picture of fitness I am, I love salad and drink loads of water. Back in the real world I love all food except Tuna. I was once scouted for Crystal Palace to play football.
Specialism: Business Analysis and Product Management Careers, Careers Advisory, Account Management, Yachting
What he said: As well as hiring new team members and taking our trainees through our amazing 3 month training programme, I work closely with the new and existing Talent Point team members to better understand what they do and to help them get the training and assistance they need to do a fantastic job for our customers. Being a ‘True Blue’ Aussie I love Vegemite on Toast, but I also LOVE LOVE LOVE Pork Belly with Crackling. I love to travel, have visited 26 countries and will have a couple to add very soon. My better half is heir to a small group of islands in the Baltic so one day I will be a King!
Specialism: Training, Mentoring, People Management, Recruitment to Recruitment, Hiring and Inductions, Facial Topiary, Aussie slang – you should hear me say ‘data’ or ‘yogurt’…
What he said: I’m Jamie, London’s ‘GO – TO’ man for the best Testers and QA engineers in town. My main aim is to assist great testers and QA through their careers, sharing my technical and business knowledge to help in providing insightful career advice and offering the opportunity to work with some of the most exciting companies in the market. Spontaneity is the essence of life, so I rarely plan outside of work. The weekends consist of drinks with friends, a West end show or concert, sports (playing/watching), a family visit, a trip abroad, NetFlix – who knows…I will let you know once I’ve done it. If I can’t eat my Mum’s homemade Lasagne then I like to eat anything Mediterranean. Before joining the recruitment industry, I used to work as a Joke Repair Man… but it didn’t work out :-/
Specialism: Testing and Quality Assurance Careers, Jokes
What he said:I’m Dan, Infrastructure Consultant and all round great guy. Currently at First Point as I missed my train home 18 months ago and haven’t earned enough to go back to Wales since. I play golf, football and frequent strip clubs, my favourite food is fish finger sandwiches and I once got arrested for possession of good looks. Sorry to keep this brief but I’m busy filling Windows roles.
Specialism: Windows Infrastructure and Support Careers, Welsh stuff
What he said: I’m Ben, a Managing Recruiter that deals with everything Microsoft! Having run and built teams of recruiters in the past I wanted to get back to my roots and beat some records, so I spend my time building networks of great developers and growing tech companies surrounding the .Net space. Mid week, I generally spend my time in the gym or running (I’m marathon training at the moment). The weekend is generally spent watching sport with a few beers, or partying and enjoying time out with friends. I actively try and keep my diet interesting so I have been eating a lot of weird things recently, I think Zebra is on the menu tonight. My favourite fat kid food would be a MeatMission Burger with Blue Cheese! I used to windsurf for Wales, despite not being Welsh.
Specialism: .NET Development Careers, Career Advisory, Account Management, Business Advisory, Recruitment Best Practice and Mentoring, Exotic Meats
What he said: One of the initial founders of the company, my current responsibilities are two fold – I focus on ensuring that our current employees are trained (and continually trained) to maximise their own performance for both themselves and in turn the clients we represent, and secondary promoting he benefits of a Managed Recruitment Process to all current and future customers. I’m a family man with two young daughters so majority of time out the office is spent with them. I’m also a keen golfer so when offered the opportunity can be found acting like Rory McIlroy at Walton Heath Golf Club. I don’t like being asked about my favourite food and I once played a round of golf with Prince Andrew, beating him 6/5
Specialism: Business Advisory, Business Development, Brand Design, Careers and Structure for all IT skill sets, People Management and Training, Headhunting, Golf
What she said: I’m Shannin, I hate writing “profiles” about myself but I do like matching up talented BI Developers, Analysts, Database/ Report developers and BI Specialists with employers. Because I know a bit about BI I can build strong relationships with the sector’s most interesting companies and offer talented professionals the opportunity to work for them. The other day a hiring manager said to me, “I’m just so surprised you know so much about BI”, which was very kind of him. I’m originally from Zimbabwe and grew up in South Africa, now having made the move to London I love experiencing everything this amazing city has to offer, from Sunday Vintage markets in Brick Lane to West End shows. I recently went traveling to New York and South East Asia and can’t wait to explore other parts of the world. Growing up on the coast, I am obsessed with Seafood and as a trained actress I once appeared in a show on Broadway!
Specialism: Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing Careers, big musical numbers
What he said: I’m Ryan, nice to meet you, I head up the PHP and Mobile offering here at First Point. It’s a great market to be in simply due to the huge demand for skills and the chance to get out and meet people – it’s really the only way to find quality talent. My spare time is carefully allocated to sampling cheese (Roquefort, obviously) and wine, ideally whilst watching football and simultaneously playing pool with a beer chaser. Or as I like to call it advanced multitasking. Not that it’s anything to boast about but I can puff my chin out like a frog – always a good ice breaker at PHP meetups.
Specialism: PHP, Python and IOS careers, meetups for open source technology and tech startups, cheese
What he said: I am Jaspreet, I specialise in finding work for Devops Engineers and Linux System administrators and helping business build their own Devops teams (or telling them why they don’t really need one!). When not talking DevOps I am usually playing cricket. I like to consider myself a batsman but that may be pushing it. I love food too much to have a favourite but were I too choose it would have it would be lamb chops. Finally – and I’m only saying this because they made me – I blast Taylor Swift songs in my car when I’m alone.
Specialism: Linux and DevOps careers, business and department structuring advice, modern pop music for girls
What he said: My name is Giggs and, unsurprisingly, I love football, especially coaching, something I do regularly for junior teams around Reading. A long time ago I played for Reading Academy so understand the importance of good coaching when you first start playing – a bit like recruitment, really! My favourite food is pizza and a have a major sweet tooth – cheesecake is my particular weakness.
Specialism: Java careers, kick-up skills
Positions: Developers, Architects, Deployment, Development Managers
Challenge: The key vetting challenge for .NET positions lies in understanding the type of applications a developer has built and the team they built them in, thus revealing where in the application stack their abilities actually lie, the basis of their approach to development and their contextual level of ability. There is a considerable skills shortage in the .NET space, with salaries increasing at an exponential rate that may not always reflect true value. We frequently recommend under-recruiting based on intrinsic programming potential and communication skills using the carrot of training and career development opportunities rather than being caught up in a list of salary-boosting buzzwords. For example, is MVC5 really rocket science when every single piece of code a developer writes is already based on in-depth knowledge of OO Solid Principles?
Positions: Developers, Architects, Deployment, Development Managers
Technology: J2SE, J2EE, Spring MVC and backend components, Spring Boot, RESTful/SOAP web services inc API work, SOA and MicroService architecture, Messaging – MQ, JMS, Rabbit, ESB -Mule, Camel, multi-threading etc – and NoSQL databases – Mongo, Couch, Noe4j, Cassandra etc
Challenge: Java technology is a buzzword minefield in which it’s extremely easy to get lost among an ever-expanding blob of frameworks, processes, approaches and expressions without really understanding what anything actually means. Grasping the evolution of frameworks, changes in web usability, how testing, requirements and development now interlink, and breaking down languages and approaches across application tiers are all critical to writing the right spec and making the right hire. Given the speed at which skills evolve within it and increasing need for “technical” staff to interface with the business, Java perpetually suffers from a skills shortage. Our solution? Keep requirements broad, hire on intrinsic potential and OO knowledge rather tech, and offer a clear and enticing career development plan tailored to the individual.
Positions: Developers, Architects, Development Managers
Challenge: the single fastest evolving market in IT, Open Source technology appeals based on the absence of a license fee and its intrinsic link to the hottest start-ups, but hiring staff to work with it can be both expensive and frustrating. With new tech released at lightening speed today’s cutting edge project is tomorrow’s Betamax, and in a community so newly emerged these are staff members who have never experienced traditional, company-centric careers where loyalty lies with an employer more than the latest tech. The explosion in demand from tiny companies creating innovative products at low cost has created a skills shortage which itself has lead to a highly artificial value-base. “Developers” trained in their own bedrooms are able to command salaries that would more usually reflect architect-level knowledge and actual developers are pushed out of their depth into management or complex design roles. Our advice for Open Source software teams is to nurture skills in house from graduate level wherever possible, promote experimentation during the working week and encourage a culture based on flexible technology that can be influenced by every employee. High turnover can seem like an inescapable reality, however open-minded working environments where technology-stacks are driven by collaboration not dictatorial management can produce loyal, homegrown teams of truly talented individuals for far less cost than appointing experienced developers who turn out to be under-skilled, transient or both.
Positions: Project Manager, PMO, Programme Manager, Project Support
Technology: Agile, Scrum, Prince, sector and product specialisation
Challenges: Advertise a vacancy for a Project Management and your should expect to encounter 100+ applicants all certain they are the man or woman for the job. The reality of course is that only one of them is, but getting to that point is far more complicated than it might appear.
We love Project Management recruitment simply because it baffles anyone unable to grasp the link between IT and business. There are no buzzwords so the only way to screen is by breaking down projects around the businesses in which they existed. What were they expected to deliver, not just in tangible, physical terms but also in business benefits? Who were the stakeholders, who were the users, how were project teams structured, who ran them, what was the technology and was it used to build from scratch or delivered, boxed, for implementation? There are a lot of questions, and judging which to ask when is a skill that cannot be acquired using a checklist.
While Project Management may seem like the most generic practice in IT with soft skills at the root of all screening, it’s actually very, very specific. Contingency is the key to good Project Management and successful contingency requires understanding of a particular size of business, a particular product, a particular way of working or a particular industry sector, what is likely to go wrong when projects are run within them and how specific, tried and tested methods of planning can prevent common issues. This must be reflected in all hiring for Project Managers: be as specific as possible around size, aims, product, business, software and structure, and – once you have come down from 100+ to ten – move into selection based on culture and person-fit.
Positions: Business Analyst, Systems Analyst, UX and UI Designers
Technology: Agile, Scrum, UML, process design, requirements, workshops, UAT
Challenges: You might think hiring a Business Analyst would by much the same as hiring a Project Manager but in fact – due mainly to the availability of skills and quality of applicants – there is a big paradigm shift between the two. If a Business Analyst is adept at taking and documenting requirements, then it follows this skill should be transferable from project to project and business to business. In some cases – particularly for new systems and products – domain knowledge is worth paying a premium for but doing so narrows the skills pool from which a “generically” strong applicant can be selected. We advise balance.
Although product-based Analysts perform a very different role from those focused on implementation, professionals used to producing requirements for the creation of systems in one sector should quickly acquire the industry and business knowledge needed to do the same in others.
Try to differentiate based on user and stakeholder numbers, and how requirements were taken rather than simply focusing on industry and product type. After all, four willing users in a small organisation or department eager to replace a system that makes their lives difficult, one million web-based users it’s impossible to make direct contact with, and one hundred entrenched accountants whose jobs are difficult enough as it is without having to learn new software, are three very different beasts that require very different approaches.
A spec for new software to be developed under Agile is very different from a spec for business change or implementation of packaged software, hence screening is a matter of understanding background in terms of both IT and business.
On the flip side, the Business Analyst space is not skills-rich so one should not expect high levels of advert response. This is a market in which long-term connections combined with good screening and a willingness to compromise in the right places are all but essential to success.
Positions: CTO, CIO, IT Manager, IT Director, Ecommerce Manager, Head of Development, QA Manager
Technology: Change, Process Design, Funding, Influence, Supplier Selection and Management, Process and Department Design
Challenges: It’s ironic that roles traditionally given to headhunters based on the highly targeted approach required to fill them are now the single biggest generators of advert response. This, however, makes them no easier to fill and in fact suggests that a more targeted, anonymous approach remains the right one, such is the often politically charged nature of positions at the top of IT.
The key to CTO or similar roles is hiring via networks and referrals. In fact, we strongly advise against other methods. Search Point have been building networks within UK IT leadership since 2002 when we placed our first CTO, and have been accumulating knowledge of IT departments and their reputations for even longer. We know which IT functions are well run and what the perception of them is in the employment marketplace both from ex-employees and job seekers. This approach gives us intrinsic knowledge about who not to approach, but also means we can make specific recommendation based on our actual working experiences – after all, it’s very easy to understand a CTO’s capability once you’ve recruited staff for them.
Our key tips for hiring IT leaders, then: ensure anonymity and hire through networks alone. If you are going to rely on advertising be extremely specific in terms of outlining the key challenges your IT function needs to overcome within the next four years and using them rigidly as screening criteria.
Positions: Test Analyst, Test Engineer, Test Manager, Test Lead
Technology: Selenium WebDriver, QTP/UFT, Cucumber, SpecFlow, Nunit, Junit, Jmeter, loadRunner, TDD and BDD, Developer in Test and Unit testing for Java, Python or C#, manual testing and QA including regression, UAT, writing plans, scripts and cases.
Challenges: The software testing employment market is a minefield of miss-communication. While it’s not hard to find two-hundred applicants, it is extremely hard to find the one in two-hundred who is good at what he or she does. Very few QA professionals have the business communication ability needed to make meaningful contributions in TDD and BDD environments, and being able to select those who do is not easy.
First it requires knowledge of what a tester actually does, which – in terms of manual testing at its most basic level – is really just what a user does (if a user worked with complete adherence to structure and repeated large parts of their job over and over again). Putting a Tester’s day to day tasks into context with a piece of software and its use within a business allows us to make quick decisions around whether that person will contribute positively on behalf of QA in Scrum sessions, whether they can plan tests as well as execute them and whether they have the first clue about the wider impact of their work on users. Introduce the ever-increasing trend for “technical” testers who can write scripts in programming languages or – as a Developer in Test – absorb the Unit testing traditionally undertaken by developers, and you have some pretty complex vetting to undertake with a huge applicant base.
Seeing Selenium on a CV is not enough to know whether that person has deployed it, executed scripts in it, written those scripts for it or created a complete testing framework within it. The only way this can be determined is – after understanding the software being tested and its purpose – breaking down team structures and job roles within a department then juxtaposing these against expected standards and investigating the anomalies.
There is no short-cut to hiring software QA staff. Adverts and agencies will generate low quality responses and someone will have to screen them, hence this is an area in which Talent Point can save businesses a huge amount of vetting and interviewing time, and also hunt down the rarer, in-demand skill sets required for modern approaches to software QA.
Positions: DBAs, Developers, Designers, Architects, Database Managers
Technology: SQL Server, T-SQL, Oracle, PL/SQL, Production, Development, Test, Install, Deployment, Tuning, OEB, Big Data, NoSQL
Challenges: Because databases sit some distance from direct user activity there is a real tendency to separate Database Developers and Administrators from the purpose of the software they support or build. Consequently positions are often viewed as purely “technical” in nature. Nothing could be further from reality. Understanding database positions always starts with the specific data under management.
In fact, at Talent Point we’ve taken this further and dropped the word “data” entirely. Instead of a catch-all buzzword we refer to what that data actually, physically is, how is it collected, who wants it, what will they do with it, where is it now and how much of it there is. Questions flow from here around the split between production and development (or perhaps even test) instances; likely or existing performance and integration issues based on database size, data sources and query volume; and the relationships – both user and technical – that a post-holder will need to form.
Securing response to Database Development and Administration positions is not in itself a huge challenge; understanding the person needed for a particular role and going on to attract them, though, certainly is. Our key advice is simple: drop bullet points. Take job specs from the sort of generic skills list that makes them all identical and focus on the unique story, situation and software behind this particular set of databases. Then, when screening, do the same with applicants. PL/SQL is PL/SQL but contrasting its use between, say, databases serving the CRM and data management behind an entire supermarket loyalty scheme vs the software created and managed by a seller of online cinema tickets, immediately shows that selection based on “words” alone isn’t much use as a screening criteria.
Positions: Data Analyst, MIS Analyst, Reporting Analyst, Data Manager
Technology: ETL, SQL Server, Oracle, Business Objects, SAS, Cognos, SSIS, SSRS, SSAS
Challenges: Business Intelligence can be extremely confusing. It combines seemingly endless lists of technology with a vast range of positions that span analysis, implementation, development and support. Recruiting here is about understanding how each technology is used in a business then adopting a compromise mentality to generate generically strong applicants with real potential.
Some technologies are highly transferable for an analyst-style role but not transferable at all for a development position. With others it’s the reverse. So in the first place let’s understand which is which and what each one contributes to a business’ reporting in terms of display, extraction, storage or transformation of data. What does Tableau do? What did businesses use before they had Tableau? Can we understand Tableau’s impact on data and users? Now based on this do we actually need experience of Tableau or could we train it relatively easily with the right background? Now let’s look at the goals of a particular reporting project or system in the context of who users are and what information they need then map this to staff already in place and the contribution a new hire is expected to make.
Without these two steps we end up with an inflexible spec that restricts suitable applicants to such a low number that screening based on softer skills essentially becomes non-existent. Advert response is moderate in this market, but the breadth of skills across companies and people typically restricts choice below where we want it to be, hence taking a flexible, reporting-aware approach.
Positions: 1st-2nd line Support, Senior Application Support, Applications Support Manager
Technology: SQL, .NET, Java, ITIL, call logging, documentation, business knowledge, domain knowledge, WIndows, Linux
Challenges: There’s nothing too complex about helping someone use a piece of software, right? Wrong. Let’s take a support professional who knows a piece of software inside out from both a user and technical perspective and hand out his phone number. The result will be 95% of this valuable resource’s time wasted switching a PC on and off. To protect his time we need to document his knowledge and spread it across lines of support that allow quick resolution of simple queries and the escalation of more complex ones to individuals qualified to deal with them.
To hire staff at any line of support we have to understand the type of issues they will resolve, the material at their disposal to do so, the process required for diagnosis and the type of problem they would need to escalate and who to. Why would an Application Support Analyst need to know how to code? Typically it’s to diagnose which issues result from bugs in software as opposed to user error, but it might also be to fix bugs or to escalate confirmed bugs to the developers who are able to fix them. No hiring for Application Support Analysts should take place unless we know why they need technical knowledge, where they sit in the escalation chain and which applications they will take responsibility for.
Once we have this information it’s easy to apply the same filtration criteria to applicants. In terms of response to adverts, these are moderate but misleading. Most applicants will be network or server rather than application focused and few recruiters will truly grasp the difference. Actually rounding down to a batch of three qualified applicants from whom it’s possible to pick the most attractive soft skills is next to impossible based on buzzwords – if in fact there are any buzzwords if the position has no technical element.
Key to screening is an applicant’s ability to detail and explain at least three support issues they have dealt with in the last few weeks. One that shouldn’t have been escalated, one they dealt with and another they passed on. The depth and accuracy of each explanation is the best guide to how capable they will be in resolving similar support issues with users.
Positions: 1st line, 2nd line, 3rd line and Systems Administration, Project Lead and Architecture, IT/infrastructure, Managers, Deployment, Service Desk Managers.
Technical: Windows Server, Active Directory, Exchange, VMware, IIS, Powershell, Citrix, Hyper V, terminal services, AWS, Cloud, SQL Server, ITIL etc
Challenges: Helpdesk for Windows infrastructure is the most popular route into a career in IT, something advert response reflect with an almost bewildering numbers of job seekers presenting themselves for Windows-based vacancies from senior to entry-level. Consequently, actually filling a position should not be challenging.
The real issue with Windows Infrastructure recruitment is how you get there. Buzzwords are not an efficient method of rejecting several hundred people because almost everyone has the same skill set (AD, Exchange, VMware etc), and yet they are most commonly used, in most cases probably eliminating the right applicant early on or, at the very least, burying hiring managers under CVs of applicants who may or may not be right.
How to prevent this? Understand how issues escalate across lines. Know the most common problems being resolved at the line the person will join. Now know what tech (if any) is needed to deal with them. Move on to the environment. High user numbers mean rigid structure and narrow but specialist tasks, low user numbers mean a wider breadth of skills and a more creative approach to problem solving. Just by knowing these few things you would be surprised how easy it is to reject 95% of applicants off the bat and know you’ve made the right decision.
The key growth area here, as with all areas of infrastructure, is build and release. This is baffling to most recruiters, particular around the use of IIS in web environments and the use of Powershell to automate infrastructure builds. Applying “Dev Ops” to Windows environments complicates matters further in a market where, in fact, there is a huge skills shortage with scripting an alien concept to most support professionals.
Positions: 1st line, 2nd line, 3rd line and Systems Administration, Dev Ops, Project Lead and Architecture, IT/infrastructure Managers, Deployment, Service Desk Managers.
Technical: Redhat, Debian, Ubuntu, Puppet, Chef, Salt, Shell, Python, LAMP, “Dev Ops”, Apache, MySQL, Cloud, VMware, Virtualisation etc
Challenge: Thanks to the explosion in departments powered by open source technology, Linux has grown at an almost unprecedented rate. The lack of control from any one entity or owner of source code has created a skills base that’s unregulated, resulting in a hugely diverse range of skills and buzzwords, and the combination of affordability and robustness means environments which for the UNIX technology on which Linux is based were always hulking great things, have become as diverse as the tools and systems run in them, jumping from one man in his bedroom to multinational blue chips.
The impact of this on hiring Linux professionals is fourfold. Firstly, understand what is a word and what is a thing that’s really needed. Is Chef the same as Puppet? Why’s Debian different from Redhat? Without knowing this you will exclude good applicants based on “technical” knowledge they don’t need.
Secondly, focus on environments. No assumptions can be made regarding job titles – a Linux Sys Admin may focus on automation and scripting for one small division in one company and day to day administration with networking and virtualisation for an entire organisation in another. The titles are the same, the skills look the same, the reality and employability are in fact very different.
Thirdly, don’t get bogged down in Dev Ops. Dev Ops is cultural idea to align Agile development and its associated release structure with automation of infrastructure deployment. It isn’t a job. It can be a job, but those who work in it have to come from somewhere – when you hire them it’s usually best to let them come from that place rather than try to find someone who thinks they’ve already arrived and requires paying accordingly.
Finally, time is of the essence. Linux professionals are in demand and if you don’t put them through the hiring process efficiently it’s a safe bet four of your competitors will.
Talent Point provide Recruitment Process Solutions using some clever software that helps companies put a bit of structure into their IT hiring. If you’ve ever worked with customers who were all over the shop with feedback, job descriptions, booking interviews etc, you’ll immediately understand how useful some extra control can be.
Although the crux of our work resembles that of a traditional Recruitment agency, we have a very different culture that promotes the idea of doing a fantastic job over simply making a sale. Rather than getting one over on IT geeks we don’t understand, we’re in the business of helping partners we respect grow their businesses.
We offer a range of roles for experienced and non-experienced Recruiters, all with one requirement in common: anyone we hire must be motivated to deliver brilliant Recruitment services. If you don’t care about customers or job seekers and have no interest in bettering yourself as a Recruiter, well, you probably won’t fit in. If you, however, you do, we should have just the opportunity for you…
You can’t run a Recruitment business without a culture that embraces sales, and yet the concept of sales in Recruitment seems to carry so many negative connotations around pressure, miss-selling, aggression and poor matching.
Presenting an applicant with a job, or a job-seeker to a business, should be no different from presenting a motorist with a car; the skilled sales person possesses the knowledge needed to take a requirement, explain the product and quickly build a mutually beneficial relationship, or to identify that no such relationship is possible and move on. As anyone who has worked agency-side will know, though, the reality is rarely anything like this.
Just like a Recruitment agency, Talent Point and our divisions make a lot of phone calls and meet a lot of people, but unlike a Recruitment agency we don’t use a language of billing figures, designer suits and fancy cars to drive a culture based purely on closing “deals” or becoming a “top biller”.
Our communication centres on customers and how we are able to help them. We talk about their business, their IT structure, their growth plans and their employees from the perspective of Business Consultants more than Recruitment Professionals. Rather than big-talking cliches in fat ties and pin-stripe, our superstar employees are those confident and conscientious enough to advise on department structures, guide on interview best practice and make positive contributions both to customer growth and individual careers.
Our monthly MVP is picked based on overall contribution to the company rather than individual billing figures, those who attend our quarterly lunches do so based on customer satisfaction, time in our box at The Emirates Stadium comes from developing customers who genuinely need our help, and, rather than get blotto in the pub every night after an 8pm finish, we stop work mid-afternoon each Friday for relaxed training and presentation workshops over a beer or two.
So although a desire to achieve goals, have fun and increase earnings underpins our work and is certainly one of the reasons individuals find rewarding careers with us, our culture ensures that the motivation to succeed goes hand in hand with absolute quality for applicants, colleagues and customers.
This is a position designed to promote excellence in applicant networking in individuals committed to a long term career in Recruitment. Promotion and earnings are based around competencies demonstrated more than placements made, with the role supporting the development of an unrivaled set of applicant contacts in a particular sector of IT.
Those who love the challenge of sourcing applicants, get a kick from finding someone the perfect job, and want to refine their screening ability and business knowledge in a role that promotes quality as opposed to volume will find a rewarding career with us as a Talent Manager. We are particularly interested in individuals from the agency-side who are seeking less demanding working hours outside a commission-based role.
At the top of our model, each supervising a number of customers whose business they have won, our Account Directors network among the UK’s most senior IT staff, broadcasting the benefits Talent Point can bring over and above traditional Recruiters or in-house teams. For all new accounts they assist in customer set-up and act as a point of escalation for our Account Managers or customer-side staff.
The role allows Recruiters with a strong customer network to find a profitable future in the profession that doesn’t involve growing and managing a team of staff. A lot of work takes place on customer sites or remotely with interviewing, relationship-building and customer entertainment all key to success. With budgets left to the discretion of the individual to manage and control, this is the right position for senior Recruitment sales professionals seeking true autonomy, trust and flexible working.
Working closely with Account Directors, our Account Managers come from a host of backgrounds across HR, agency-side or internal recruitment and are responsible for delivering the Talent Point service to customers. Typical duties cover editing job specs, training on software, second round screening, coordinating interviews and designing recruitment processes both on and off site, underpinned by bringing hiring managers into line with recruitment processes designed to save them time.
The role suits highly professional, knowledgeable, career Recruiters with innate confidence who are keen to increase their technical, screening and business knowledge while improving Recruitment for companies fully invested in allowing them to do so. Account Managers receive a higher base salary than is traditional in agency-side roles, are granted a large amount of autonomy, perform considerable customer-site work, and access a generous bonus scheme based around delivery, quality and retention.
Our Recruiter and Managing Recruiter roles sit under the First Point and Reference Point brands where they provide agency-side Recruiters looking to focus on quality a competitive commission scheme.
While some applicant-side delivery is inescapable what these roles promote is a KPI-free ability to win, advise and manage customers, passing out roles for sourcing to other staff thus allowing exponential increases in earnings. Those who have achieved success in a Recruitment agency but can’t see any room for progression outside of becoming a manager will love these positions.
Our Resourcing Consultants sit under the First Point or Reference Point brands where they perform a mixed role blending a little business development and customer management with applicant delivery for Talent Point. For Recruitment Consultants or Trainees keen to retain commission-based remuneration this role offers the sort of mix that can satisfy aspirational earning goals alongside the safety net of an existing customer base.
For those interested in entering the Recruitment industry, we don’t believe there is a better place to learn the modern Recruiter’s role than at Talent Point. 75% of our staff are “home grown”, all passing through a 12-week training programme that gradually builds their ability and knowledge via class-room learning, practical targets and mentoring to open up a range of roles and career options that allow them to specialise in the work they have most enjoyed.
Rather than focus 100% on Recruitment sales techniques, our training encompasses a broader, business-based education to create well-rounded business professionals as opposed to pure sales people. Contrast this with the two-week “induction” followed by “on the job learning” common to Recruitment agencies and you’ll understand why those who work for Talent Point lead their sector in terms of knowledge and ability.
While we obviously don’t like to lose staff, we’re nonetheless proud that those who have passed through our training over some twelve years have gone on to varied positions in IT Consulting, Project Management, Marketing, Operations Management, IT Sales, SAP implementation, Software Development, Training and Learning, and Human Resources.
Many of our trainees are money motivated and it’s certainly true that high earnings are possible – our most successful ever performer accumulated £95,000 in their first year going on to earn £270k in year six before becoming a Director of the business – but this is by no means the basis of selection.
Clear thinking, logical reasoning, a proven ability to learn, great listening skills, a thick skin and impeccable communication coupled with a single-minded ability to set goals and achieve them are the competencies common to all those we hire.
Like most Recruitment firms we often include graduates in our intake but, unlike many of our competitors who operate a sell, sell, sell culture that requires the naiveté of a 100% first-job workforce, we are also very keen to hire experienced business professionals who would like to exponentially increase earnings in an intelligent sales environment.
A message from our founder…
Six months into my recruitment career I read a book called Using Oracle Applications. It was quite fat and intended for the sort of technical types I was at the time finding jobs for. It appealed to me because I wanted to stop pretending I knew what applicants and customers were talking about and start actually knowing. It was a lightbulb moment. Interfaces; requirements; Forms that don’t change, Reports that do; vanilla vs customisation; user acceptance, parallel and unit testing: all of a sudden I could explain them. I became a peer to my customers and seemed to be doing a different job. Looking back at submissions from two months prior I couldn’t believe any hiring manager had continued to work with me: relying entirely on buzzwords it had been pure chance that I’d put the right CV on the right desk, and it was only the 80 calls+ I was making per-day that were keeping me in the game. The book was my epiphany: if every Recruiter could link these mysterious “tech” words with a real thing that happens in real life, hiring would get better for everyone. So with barely a year’s experience I quit the UK’s largest IT Recruiter and started First Point in my bedroom.
Ten years later I had a team of fifteen staff across two offices which based on my lofty aims was frankly a bit rubbish. So why had I struggled to train and develop the army of enlightened Recruiters due to change the face of the industry? Well, aside from being one of the world’s worst line managers, it was simple: agency-side Recruiters must work three times as hard to win professional respect as a gardener, a plumber, a marketeer or a programmer might have to. Rather than useful service providers they’re intrinsically tarred as disposable meddlers engaged under a unique reversal of the customer/provider dynamic where companies who use agencies actually believe they are doing the Recruiter a huge favour. Recruiters are often a scapegoat for bad management or hiring decisions completely out of their hands and their right to supply services to a particular business is at best transient, at worst in perpetual jeopardy, nor do they ever have the clout to actually change this because their opinion is – obviously – based on nothing but wanting a fee.
Most Recruiters deal with this reality by ignoring it. They put their heads down and make hundreds of calls and submissions they don’t understand to customers they don’t respect in a volume-based culture that encourages them to do so. This lack of interest and care shields them emotionally from a feeling of professional worthlessness. Yet here I was dropping Recruiters driven by quality into a market place dominated by firms whose staff didn’t have the training necessary to even identify quality, and customers highly unlikely to either expect or appreciate it.
No matter how good a job we did, it was always swallowed up in the pile of CVs sent by our competition, or lost in a convoluted feedback process that blocked well-meaning advice from ever reaching hiring managers. For our customers to actually benefit from our investment in staff development and get access to the advice and assistance it allowed us to offer we had to somehow remove ourselves from the “agency” model. Hence, Talent Point.
As well as offering customers a genuinely useful service they can’t get anywhere else, the jump from First Point to Talent Point was an attempt to offer Recruiters – or those looking to enter the profession – unique career opportunities that made them feel good. For us – and we hope you, too – the true holy grail of a rewarding, positive career in Recruitment rests on the one thing from which holiday targets, designer suits and who’s going to be first to smash the billing for a Porsche are all superficial distractions: respect.
Our aim with Talent Point has been to create a service and brand that allows our staff to command the respect of hiring managers; to be seen as a supportive peer rather than a pest out to make a fee by any means necessary. Relationships are contractual and implemented from the top of IT down, removing the stigma of an ulterior motive from the work you do, freeing you to add value for a customer who sees you as a partner. The feeling of positivity and professional worth that comes from making Recruitment better should be the single most rewarding element of a Recruiter’s role. At Talent Point anyone with a passion for good technical recruitment will be put in a position where they will feel it constantly. And of course if you have business, technical and sales knowledge that’s ahead of the industry we insist it’s reflected in your earnings.
I don’t think we’re out to change the face of agency-side Recruitment anymore – that seems like an undertaking too far to me (youthful enthusiasm is a wonderful thing!) – but we do hope to provide a truly rewarding, long term home for quality-driven Recruitment professionals, and make IT hiring far less of a headache for companies open to letting us do so.
And no, I don’t make all our staff read ‘Using Oracle Applications’! Although I will admit to our training programme being single-handedly responsible for raising the Amazon price of a particular book from 10p to £999.11.
For positions in London please send a CV and covering letter stating your interest in Talent Point and the position you feel would be right for you to Luke George firstname.lastname@example.org or for Reading to Victoria Goodchild email@example.com
Or, alternatively, call any of us for an informal chat on the numbers here.