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MD Voices: Navigating Manchester's Shifting Tech Job Landscape - Insights and Strategies for Success

At Manchester Digital, we like to conduct interviews with our members to delve deeper into their areas of passion within the dynamic digital and technology landscape of Greater Manchester. This week we're speaking with Hays Technology Business Director Daniel McNeaney to discuss Digital hiring trends with us.

What are the current market conditions for technology recruitment in Manchester, and how have they evolved in recent years?

More challenging than previous years. That said, what we are seeing, and have seen the previous 4-5 months, is more of a normalising of the market. 

The last 3 years have seen an unprecedented surge in demand: huge demand for talent; huge pipelines of projects driven by massive, and accelerated (forced, in some cases) digital transformations; huge worker movement; huge candidate demand; but, modest real-term salary & day rate wage growth.

In some ways, now is less challenging; perhaps more rewarding. Ultimately, it should mean recruiters are able to better service candidates & clients, increasing the quality of their offerings. What’s great for us, and all the Tech community, is that we operate in an incredibly resilient sector, the problems behind the projects still exist, the opportunity to disrupt is still there, and the industry is full of bright, inventive & driven people.

In Manchester at the moment, permanent recruitment is slower than previous Autumns. Recruitment freezes, delayed projects, and ongoing uncertainty politically, is bringing with it lower levels of business confidence & the cut off time for pre festive season hires is edging closer. Some decision makers we are speaking to are eyeing a fresh start in the New Year.  Contract recruitment is stable if not setting the world alight.

Fundamentally, the latest ONS stats tell us there’s still 186,000 more vacancies nationwide than before Covid so its far from doom & gloom.

Can you identify any specific technology sectors that are currently performing exceptionally well in terms of job opportunities and growth in the Manchester area?

There is not really a specific sector performing way above other areas. The data & metrics we use internally tell us most sectors are feeling the pinch somewhat. There is still money flowing from VC/PEs but our customers, and the platforms we use to track investment, show a different landscape from 2022. Internal tech teams and the public sector roll on but without the gung-ho hiring of recent times.

How the rise of remote work and the pandemic's impact on the job market, how have hiring practices in the technology sector adapted in Manchester, and do you anticipate any long-term changes?

Hiring practices have changed – they simply had to. 

Manchester is no different, and the fact we have such a broad spectrum of companies here across Product, Company HQs, Public Sector etc mean it is representative of the UK as a whole.

Of course, the obvious change was interviews taking place remotely. What’s interesting now is companies realising/remembering that meeting someone face to face creates more buy in & commitment, as well as far greater rapport. The ability to be able show a candidate your offices, the local café & the facilities exponentially increase your chance of securing the candidate you want. But, a word of warning, you still must be flexible & oftentimes you do have justify & explain sometimes why they should come in and see you.

There are still lots of remote only companies but more & more are getting people back for even a couple of days a month. When Amazon, Meta, Google and, finally, Zoom do it, you know there’s been a shift.

The interesting thing here is that over the last 2-3 years candidates have had an enormous plethora of choice, and clients have been, at times, desperate. As a result of this, many candidates have strong assertions around their WFH expectations that are beginning to look a little out of step with the market. In previous years, clients didn’t have much power to insist; now some, much like the behemoths mentioned above, do.

A less buoyant market means less choice, and a reduction (*correction*) in choice means candidates must put up with their not-absolutely-perfect situation in terms of WFH or benefits etc. Or stay where they are.

Another interesting point will be to what extent the market needs to readjust in terms of the contractor vs perm workforce. As more contractors sit on the bench for longer and rates plateau (or, in reality, decrease like for like), what % of contractors will turn to permanent work.

What are the most in-demand skills or qualifications that employers are seeking when hiring technology professionals in Manchester, and how have these requirements shifted over time?

Data folk & Software Developers who have pivoted to embrace AI tools are, if not yet, going to be the next most sought-after group. Of course, there are industries with bigger barriers to this, but this shift is happening, if incrementally. 

Well rounded, modern Software Engineers are always in demand, as are Project professionals with a demonstrable track record in Digital Transformation Programmes.

Lastly, Cyber Security hiring is proving resilient to current market trends. Plenty of companies out there would love to bring the whole, or at least some of, this function inhouse but don’t know where to start, such is their reliance on consultancies & vendors. Project Managers in this space, with the technical knowhow, alongside the project chops, will continue to do very well.

What advice would you give to technology professionals looking to stand out in their job search or employers aiming to attract top talent in Manchester's competitive technology market?

For job seekers the advice is all about being prepared: 

  • Know your ‘why’ as to the reason behind you seeking new employment 
  • Do your research on the types of company you want to work for and why
  • Find a sounding board in the industry to help talk through your choices
  • Get your LinkedIn & CV up-to-date and aligned
  • Keep track of where you’ve applied & what follow up or action you’ve taken after your application 

For companies looking to hire best talent:

  • Be ready to sell not just the role, project & tech, but who you are as a leader & mentor
  • Have a clearly thought out & aligned EVP
  • Know your benefits & go some way to monetizing them for candidates, it amazes us how often Hiring Managers don’t know what benefits exist
  • Don’t string people along, recruitment is a difficult process to get right but people appreciate honest, candid feedback

Thank you Dan!

To find out more about Hays Technology click here.

Explore jobs at Hays Technology

Dynamics 365 CRM Developer - Public Sector

Our Technology division at Hays is the world’s leading tech recruiter. We’ve spent years nurturing an ecosystem of highly engaged and unique candidates, providing progressive technology and disruptive digital organisations with the skills of today and tomorrow. Whether you are looking for contract, interim or permanent roles, we have the knowledge and network to help you find people who can make a real difference to your organisation. We have over 2,500 specialist tech recruiters in 32 countries across the globe, who are currently working with over 30,000 tech contractors and who fill over 20,000 permanent technology jobs each year.As your partner, we can recruit for a wide range of roles across infrastructure, cyber security, cloud, software development, data & advanced analytics, projects & change management, leadership, intelligent automation, Salesforce, Workday and ServiceNow.We know tech talent is hard to find, which is why we’ve been cultivating talent communities around the world for years, from those with junior level experience through to director and CIO level, to help professionals find roles where they can make a difference. This enables us to provide you with access to niche professionals with relevant skills and experience that match your business ambitions.We manage the recruitment process from start to finish, finding the best talent through assessments and technical tests, helping match the right people to the right places. This means we always find the best match for your role.Our insights are powered by experience, intelligence and data, made possible by our investment in new technologies and systems. Our research keeps our customers up to date about what the tech market looks like now and what the skills of tomorrow will be, and can help you offer the right salaries and benefits to attract top talent. We enjoy established partnerships to give our customers unparalleled access to unique insights and so you have access to the latest market intelligence.We’re invested in your success, we’re ambitious for your aspirations and we want to secure the talent/future tech career that matters to you. 

Hays Technology

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