What is one of the greatest lies ever told? That people don’t lie on their résumé.
We have all seen it, heard about it, or even participated in it. Why? Because we are terrified of being left behind in the whirlpool of unemployability.
That survival of the fittest mentality we all possess, explains why 81% of people lie during a job interview, according to award-winning social psychologist and author of The Best Place to Work, Ron Friedman.
Due to this alarming percentage of storytellers among us, the integrity of first impressions is called into question and an employers ability to then make an educated decision to hire their future employee, is based off of these presumptions. The outcome? Employers can’t discern between the truthful and the dishonest, resulting in blissful hiring ignorance.
Our Brains Are Biased
Employers might receive 100% honest answers from a candidate, however they will still evaluate a person at face value. Friedman explains that our brains are prewired with a subconscious bias. When we meet someone we determine their skills and capabilities from this first impression; drawing the below conclusions…
Caught yourself identifying with these aspects? Research suggests that we cannot help but be swayed by these factors. Friedman explains that if an interviewer interprets someone as being extroverted, they are likely to ask a question like, “Tell me your experience with group leadership”. Whereas, if interpreted as introverted, the line of questioning would change to, “Are you comfortable leading groups?”
Whilst the topic remains constant, Friedman comments that the way the question is framed reflects our assumptions of that person, leading the candidate to provide the answer the interviewer wants to hear, regardless of whether it’s true.
The answer to this mess? Job Auditions!
Friedman suggests job auditions are the way of the future. Which when you think about it, makes sense! It’s time for candidates to step up to the plate and walk the walk, instead of talk the talk.
For example, a sales representative may be asked to sell the company’s product/service to the employer, or a web designer would be tasked with an on-the-spot challenge of designing a landing page.
Regardless of the job position, an interviewer's first impression would be based on the candidate's actual capabilities rather than hearing scripted answers over and over again; similar to the nature of behavioural interviews.
CASE STUDY 1: Automattic
These are the legends behind WordPress.com, who “believe in making the Web a better place” by one ‘tryout’ at a time. (‘Tryout’: a reinvention of the traditional interview).
CEO Matt Mullenweg saw a misconnection in the industry, he writes in the Harvard Business Review, “Just like work, interviews can be "performed" without real productivity.”
Sticking to this philosophy, final candidates adopt the position they are applying to for three to eight weights under contract, working alongside their colleagues and completing real tasks. The final step of this process may be called an interview, but is no more traditional than the rest of the tryout, as it involves instant messaging between candidate and employer; aiming to get as close to a double-blind process as possible.
CASE STUDY 2: The ‘extreme interviewing’ strategy
Another alternative interview strategy that is being introduced to the workforce, is known as the ‘‘extreme interviewing’ strategy. This is a process which involves 50 candidates undergoing a series of exercises reflecting the standard type of work carried out at a company. Candidates complete a 20-minute series for a total of 3 rounds, typically alternating partners.
This is an effective strategy to evaluate whether a candidate brings out the best skills in their designated partner and can work well with others, also known as testing an individual's ‘kindergarten skills’.
The top 3 candidates are then invited back for a paid audition day where the candidates work on real client projects within the company. The shining stars will then return for one more round of three-week paid trials.
Now, It’s Your Move
While the traditional structure of an interview may take it’s time to fade out, employers are becoming more aware of what’s going on and are reacting to it by tightening up their ‘tryouts’. Looks like the ‘Fake it 'til you make it" mantra seems to be hot air after all.
London recently came in at No. 2 on a list that ranked cities across the globe on how conducive their policies are to the growth of tech startups and other entrepreneurial ventures.
The City Initiatives for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship report, which was put together by British innovation capacity-building charity Nesta in collaboration with Future Cities Catapult and management consultancy Accenture, declared New York City to be the top locale for pro-startup policy-making. London was the first runner-up, only narrowing missing out on the top spot. It was followed by Helsinki, which came as a surprise to some industry observers, while Barcelona and Amsterdam rounded out the top five.
Open data proved a positive differentiator
So, what elements resulted in London’s high score? As Wired noted, the facts that the city was ahead of the curve in terms of embracing the open data trend by making municipal information available to the masses was a big contributor. Cited by the news source, John Gibson, director of government innovation at Nesta and co-author of the study, observed that the availability of this type of data made it possible for lucrative ventures like Citymapper to spring up. Citymapper is an app that taps into static and live data made available through the government body Transport for London, helping users navigate the city with ease and avoid trouble spots such as parts of the London Underground that are experiencing delays. It has since expanded to other cities.
Digital recruitment in and around London’s Silicon Roundabout has been getting a significant boost from Tech City UK’s Future Fifty initiative. Accelerator programme Future Fifty supports rapidly growing tech firms as they expand their operations, ensuring they have the resources they need to scale up effectively.
According to the Tech City Blog, the number of jobs created by companies that belong to the programme rose by 30 per cent since June of last year, a figure that’s considerably higher than the 5.4 per cent national average. Clearly, Future Fifty is doing something right.
Future Fifty businesses enjoy a leg up
The Future Fifty website explained that the programme gives growing digital enterprises a helping hand by connecting firms with investors and government initiatives, essentially plugging them into the marketplace. Notable success stories include Web-based household appliance retailer Ao.com and residential property website Zoopla. Along with genomics company Horizon Discovery and online takeaway service Just Eat, Ao.com and Zoopla generated a whopping total of £1.18 billion on London’s capital markets after going public, according to the Tech City blog. The four organizations are now considered to be among the 12 Future Fifty Alumni, each of which present an example of the success that businesses in the tech sector can enjoy when given adequate financial support.
“Growth-stage companies are vital to the U.K.’s tech ecosystem,” said Philipp Stoeckl, director of the Future Fifty program, as quoted by the news source. “As a leading source of innovation and jobs, it is important that we continue to attract and support the world’s most promising companies to grow and scale their businesses in the U.K.”
“With increased IT-sector growth come digital jobs.”
Digital jobs abound in London
With increased IT-sector growth come digital jobs in London, particularly in the software development realm. Research by Tech Nation found that more than half (57 per cent) of digital jobs advertised by Future Fifty businesses over the past year were software development positions, Tech City UK reported. Customer service came in at a very distant second place with 11 per cent.
Two software-related positions made it onto Glassdoor’s most recent list of the 25 best jobs in the country, meaning they scored highly in terms of job availability, professional opportunities and yearly salary. The software engineer role, which involves designing and coding software applications, was ranked 10th on the list. Meanwhile, the job of solutions architect, which entails drawing up plans that form the basis of developers’ software-building operations, was listed at No. 14.
Encouragingly for people who don’t have formal qualifications, IT-related degrees are not always necessary when it comes to digital recruitment in London. In a piece for The Guardian, contributor James Burt – himself a tenured software developer – asserted that hiring managers often prioritize candidates with passion and enthusiasm for programming over those with formal accreditation. As the country’s tech sector continues to grow and create jobs, there will be more opportunities for such individuals to enter the industry.
The London IT sector may be booming, but there’s one aspect that could do with considerable improvement: gender diversity in the workforce.
Private-sector group Tech London Advocates recently conducted a survey of its members in conjunction with London Tech Week, and its findings included some alarming statistics:
- Nearly one-quarter (23 per cent) of poll participants from tech enterprises based in the capital said their companies don’t have any female board members at all.
- Three in 20 respondents (the equivalent of 15 per cent of the survey pool) reported their firms had no women at the senior management level.
- Almost four in 10 survey-takers (39 per cent) noted that although their senior management teams did include some female members, these individuals composed less than one-fifth of the total senior manager population.
“For a sector identified with disruption and change, these figures are very disappointing,” said Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates. “We live in a city with a global reputation for diversity, yet our most exciting industry fails to reflect this in its most senior positions.”
What are the advantages of registering a London-specific domain name?
As outlined by Domains.London, registering for a Dot London domain name offers numerous benefits. These include:
- Being memorable: A site with an out-of-the-ordinary suffix will tend to separate itself from the pack of Web addresses that end in .com, .org, .net and the like, meaning it’s more likely to stick in people’s minds.
- Establishing a direct association: The London brand carries considerable weight, which means sites with a Dot London domain can piggyback off that prestige.
- Sending a message: Londoners or others interested in individuals or organizations based in the city will immediately be able to tell that a site is relevant to their needs.
Although gTLDs are rising in popularity – registrations exceeded 5 million for the first time earlier this year, TheDomains reported – they have not yet reached critical mass. What does this mean for people and companies considering jumping on the Dot London bandwagon? In short, the time to do so is now, as gTLDs still have a novelty factor that may prompt individuals to do a double-take when they see a Dot London domain name.
Rise to greatness
A study commissioned by London & Partners and conducted by Oxford Economics revealed the true scale of the growth. Since the Tech City Initiative was launched by London Mayor Boris Johnson and Prime Minister David Cameron five years ago, the capital’s tech sector has dramatically expanded by nearly half (46 per cent), according to the Financial Times. The media outlet noted that the future looks bright, with EY figures placing London at the forefront of international tech investment projects. More than 1,000 such initiatives were based in London between 2005 and 2014, making the city significantly more attractive than its closest rival, Paris, which clocked in at 381 projects, the news source reported.
The London & Partners report went on to reveal that the number of digital tech companies in the capital has risen by more than 12,000 over the past five years to reach an impressive 40,000 – and, what’s more, this uptick is set to continue. In fact, Oxford Economics predicted that more than 50,000 digital tech enterprises will call the city home by the middle of the next decade, which is great news for individuals interested in digital jobs in London.
Unpacking the ‘interesting shift’
So, what’s behind the phenomenon that FTSE Global Markets called an “interesting shift“? According to Morgan McKinley, there are several factors at play.
- Innovative compensation packages: With the recession in the rearview mirror, many professionals aren’t as focused on monetary compensation as they would have been as recently as a couple of years ago. Smaller firms are taking advantage of this situation by getting creative with their salary packages to make the jobs they have on offer seem more enticing. In one example cited by Hakan Enver, operations director for Morgan McKinley Financial Services, a tech company offered a data developer £60,000 in shares on top of his £60,000 base salary.
- A position at the cutting edge: Big banks are not known for being early adopters of technology, which can be frustrating for a digital guru working at such an enterprise. Smaller companies tend to adapt more quickly, and their willingness to embrace new technological developments is attractive.
- The small business dynamic: Employees tend to have more say at smaller companies – an enticing prospect for tech-savvy professionals eager to share their knowledge and ideas. At big banks, there’s less room to maneuver, and managers eager to adhere to company-wide policies are often less open to suggestions.
“The Silicon Roundabout is by no means London’s only startup hotspot.”
As The Telegraph reported, one-quarter of searches conducted using online office space rental marketplace Hubble targeted the Shoreditch area. While Tech City still topped the list of places in which businesses are seeking office space, other parts of London are becoming increasingly attractive to startups as well – particularly Soho, Fitzrovia and Covent Garden, which attracted nearly one-fifth of the almost 150,000 office searches conducted on the Hubble website over the past year. Other contenders included:
- Clerkenwell, Holborn and Bloomsbury (16 per cent of searches)
- The Southbank (13 per cent)
- The City (10 per cent)
- Camden, Islington and Kings Cross (8 per cent)
- Victoria (less than 5 per cent)
- Docklands (less than 5 per cent)
“More recruiters are turning to candidates’ social networking profiles.”
Social media influencing employers’ digital recruitment decisions
A new CareerBuilder survey found that an increasing number of companies on the hunt for the perfect digital guru to join their ranks are turning to candidates’ social networking profiles to get a sense of these individuals beyond the information provided by their CVs. CareerBuilder revealed that while 42 per cent of employers were put off hiring a candidate as a result of their findings, 45 per cent of hiring managers were actually positively influenced.
Inappropriate content (46 per cent), references to drinking and drug use (40 per cent), and negative comments about previous jobs or colleagues (34 per cent) topped the list of employer turnoffs, while sub-standard communication skills and discriminatory remarks rounded out the top five at 30 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively. Among employers whose perusals of social media garnered positive findings, 42 per cent were pleased by the cohesion between the information that the candidate posted and the professional expertise outlined on his or her resume. Professionalism, communication skills and creativity were also cited as positive findings.
Nearly four in 10 (38 per cent) of survey participants said social media enabled them to get a sufficiently strong idea of a candidate’s personality to conclude whether he or she would assimilate well into the company. This reflects the increasing focus on corporate culture that has emerged over the past few years. Back in 2012, Forbes contributor Erika Andersen highlighted a statistic that suggested up to nine in 10 failed hires don’t work out because of cultural misalignment, and it’s those types of figures that prompted many companies to place more of a focus on the issue. Gauging cultural fit is very much still a work in progress, but the fact that hiring managers are sizing up potential candidates’ personalities in this manner seems like a positive development.
All in all, Inner East London experienced an estimated growth of 5.2 per cent year over year. This healthy figure contributed to the quarter-over-quarter expansion of 0.7 per cent observed in London between Q3 and Q4 of last year – a full 0.2 percentage points above the national average.
“The TMT sector – technology, media and telecoms – has been a sweet spot for London for a number of years now and that shows no sign of stopping,” commented Roger Fenwick, regional director at RBS.
London tops the charts in earnings as well as job numbers
Not only is the number of digital jobs available in the capital on the rise, but Londoners employed in full-time IT positions make considerably more than their counterparts working in other areas of the United Kingdom.
“The predictions of Tech City turning into the next Silicon Valley are becoming increasingly prevalent.”
As we noted in a previous article, research from Experis revealed that full-time IT workers in London earned an average salary of £52,982, well above the £41,594 netted by professionals in the No. 2 city, Cambridge. Given that the tech sector in London – particularly within the Silicon Roundabout area – seems to be going from strength to strength, it’s hardly surprising that the predictions of Tech City turning into the next Silicon Valley are becoming increasingly prevalent, but are they premature?
“Tech City is a relatively recent phenomenon and it takes years for those essential ingredients of talent, capital and infrastructure to coalesce and create something special,” warned The Telegraph’s Alex Wood in an op-ed on the subject penned earlier this year.