Want the best talent? Then rip up the recruitment rule book

Tech is a diverse and exciting career platform for anyone who is creative, likes tackling complex problems or challenging traditional thinking – and it’s never been a better time to get into the industry

The UK tech sector is among the largest in the world and continues to boom. Last year, venture capital invested $15bn in UK tech companies, more than India, Germany, France and any other major market except the United States and China1. Similarly, the start-up and scale-up landscape in the UK is valued at $585bn, which is 120% more than in 2017 and more than double the next most valuable market, Germany, at $291bn.

In contrast, national unemployment is at around 5%, the highest recorded in the last five years. This number is unfortunately expected by many to grow following the end of the furlough scheme in September 2021. As a result, UK tech companies, unlike many sectors trying simply to survive the fall-out of Covid-19, are in a strong position to capitalise on this wealth of available, diverse talent to fuel our own growth while at the same time, providing these individuals with new opportunities.

tails.com started with an idea to take the complexity out of feeding your dog the best nutrition by providing a uniquely tailored recipe for each dog. And then we worked on how we could fuse the vet, nutritionist expertise with technology and manufacturing capability to make that happen. We’ve come a long way since that point, but as with any direct-to-consumer company we are constantly testing, learning and improving the experience for our customers.

Now that we’re in full scale up mode, we’re accelerating out across Europe in our mission to change the world of pet food for good. That means we’re looking for the best possible talent and we’ve learnt what good looks like along the way. Winning teams have just the right combination of ethnic and gender diversity, as well as blended cultural backgrounds and professional experience. No company will ever get this unless you hire from outside the traditional tech hunting grounds and skill backgrounds.

Luckily, we’re in a prime position to do this because of the current availability of job seekers. As a direct-to-consumer retailer, we have found fantastic candidates from a range of sectors who we may not have hired in the earlier stages of the business to complement our already skilled Software Engineering team.

The challenge is often getting in front of these individuals and helping them to understand the career possibilities and futureproofing benefits that tech re-skilling brings. It also requires important investment and short-term expectation management from employers. As well as offering transparent career and salary roadmaps to prospective employees less familiar with engineering, we encourage individuals to look at boot camps so that they can acquire and retrain with the core skills needed to fast-track a tech career.

Upon entry to the company these colleagues bring a myriad of energy and thinking to the table and the return of investment speaks for itself. One example is Christina, who joined the company in HR before completing our bootcamp scheme and becoming a product manager. Then there’s Dafydd, a sound engineer for feature films turned software engineer and now a key tails.com coding maestro. We also have Plum, who was an Office Manager before she joined our Customer Experience team. It wasn’t long until her interest in coding led her to become one of our Full Stack Engineers.

Thanks to our diverse workforce, and hiring people like Christina, Dafydd and Plum from outside the tech sector, we are more agile and able to tackle complex problem solving than ever. Our successful approach to pan-European nuance in customer experience and market presence is stronger than it has ever been due to the full range of skilled professions we’re home to.

It’s proof of how investment in diversifying talent can bring significant return, and I would encourage technology leaders to consider how they can utilise this varied talent pool to enrich their business. It may be one of the best business decisions you ever make.

About the Author

Steve Webster, Co-Founder and Director of Technology, tails.com. tails.com is a dog food subscription company with a big difference. We create truly tailored food for each and every dog we serve. We start by asking people a few simple questions about their dog. Then we use that data to create their dog’s unique tails.com recipe – so their dog gets exactly the nutrition they need, in the taste they love, delivered to their door every month. It’s clever stuff.

Featured image: ©kenishirotie