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Recruiting The Right Staff A Top Challenge For Tech Startups

  • 71% of employers at tech start-ups and scale-ups experienced difficulties hiring or trying to hire staff over the last 12 months
  • According to two thirds (66%), identifying the specific skills they need to hire next is a challenge
  • Over half (54%) of employers anticipate recruitment challenges in the upcoming year but 93% still planning to hire, according to the Hays Tech Start-Up 2019 report created in partnership with Empact Ventures

According to findings from the Hays Tech Start-Up 2019 report, close to three quarters (71%) of employers at tech start-ups and scale-ups experienced difficulties when hiring or trying to hire staff over the last 12 months. 14% of those labeled the difficulties they faced as ‘extreme’.

Two thirds (66%) of employers also revealed that identifying the skills they need to hire next is a top challenge they face. In terms of specific skills, 58% say that developer skills have been the hardest to attract over the past year, followed by sales and business development skills (29%) and marketing skills (16%).

Salary is the top reason for recruitment challenges

The report, created in partnership with global superconnectors Empact Ventures, found that there are several reasons why tech start-ups and scale-ups are finding it a challenge to attract and hire talent. The most commonly cited reason by 45% of respondents is that they are unable to offer the same salaries as more established organisations. This was followed by 37% stating they are unable to offer the same job security as other employers, 27% who can’t offer the same benefits, and 24% who believe that they require their employees to take on too many roles. 

Sales and business development skills key 

When asked what skills are most necessary to achieve their immediate business objectives, almost two thirds (63%) of start-up and scale-up employers say sales and business development. This is followed by development (including front-end, back-end, and mobile) skills (56%), and marketing, branding and public relations skills (48%).

Currently over a third (37%) say they do not currently have the skills needed to expand their business into other markets, 13% don’t have the skills need for marketing and raising their company’s profile, and 28% ned skills to increase sales and build a customer base.

Recruitment challenges set to continue but aren’t affecting hiring intentions

Looking to the future, employers anticipate recruitment challenges to persist. Over half (54%) predict they will have recruitment challenges as they continue to grow, and 49% think they will have difficulties finding the right employees. Recruitment aside, over half (51%) of employers cite securing funding through investment their top challenge, closely followed by increasing sales and building a customer base (50%).

Encouragingly, the vast majority (93%) of tech start-ups and scale-ups are planning to hire over the next 12 months. 72% are looking to hire permanent employees, 25% freelancers, 24% contractors, 14% external consultants and 20% want to hire interns and/or apprentices.

James Milligan, Director of Hays Digital Technology, comments: “Recruiting the right talent is a struggle for employers across the whole of the UK under the current skills backdrop, but our findings reveal that it is a particular challenge for employers at tech start-ups and scale-ups. However, isolating the skills that will make the biggest difference to your organisation is a vital competency all start-up and scale-up leaders and founders must learn.

To overcome this, employers are encouraged to outline their business challenges and priorities in order of urgency and establish what roles will help mitigate these the most. Strike a balance between being forward-looking and planning ahead, but don’t hesitate to hire once you have found the right candidate.”

Anne Boden, CEO of Starling Bank, comments: “Recognise that challenges are a natural part of the start-up journey, and every day is a learning curve. When it comes to hiring, reach out to your network for support when hiring roles outside of our area of expertise to ensure you employ the best, and keep true to your core cultural values even as you scale.”

Martin Keelagher, CEO of Agile Automations, comments: “Of course in the UK there’s a huge shortage of skills, especially in the technology sector. Ensure you plan ahead when considering what skills you most need in order to give yourself enough time to find the right employees for your business, and, once you have hired, continue to invest in your team.”

Kosta Mavroulakis, Founder & CEO, Empact Ventures, comments: “The journey from tech startup to scaleup often brings with it many challenges at each stage to be overcome. The right approach to addressing them can speed up the pace at which you scale and contribute to your success. We are delighted to have co-designed this report with Hays to support founders to recruit the right co-founders, team, and advisors.”

To request a copy of the report, please visit: http://www.hays.co.uk/tech-startup

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