Research Byte relevant to people-related elements of the tech industry.

Talent Pool Insight: London – Reading Edition

Published by Profile picture of Alain Chong from Talent Point. Alain Chong on the 22nd May, 2019

Talent Point have been building pools of technology talent in Reading and London for over 18 years. The research that we have performed for our customers has given us a high degree of insight into key employment trends and statistics that organisations can leverage in the race for talent.

This data was accumulated from 19 individual studies conducted in Reading and over 40 in London, revealing clear trends around applicant pool stability, size and motivation. These studies span some 2,000 interviews with technology professional and over 1,000 LinkedIn and job-board research hours.

Following an analysis of these findings, we created key takeaways that firms based in Reading or its surrounding areas can implement to become more competitive in securing technology staff.

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The UK as a whole has a strong talent pool of technology professionals, with a significant number based in the South.

22% of the UK's technology talent works in the regions of London and Reading alone.

Add to this the commonly commuted areas of Swindon, Slough, Oxford and Guildford, and the number jumps to 28%.

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We segmented this data for particular types of hire across three key statistics: percentage of UK professionals working in the region, percentage of total UK jobs posted and percentage of professionals that changed jobs within the last year.

Only 6% of Java Developers in the UK work within commutable distance of Reading, while London has just over 30% of the entire talent pool. Advertising volumes rise above this for London, which suggests higher competition for talent. So, although Reading has a much smaller number of potential employees, there may be fewer businesses attempting to engage them. Most significantly, the percentage of Java talent that moved roles in the last year is only 7% in Reading compared to 29% in London. This is a huge takeaway that should impact hiring approaches considerably.

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These trends are replicated across other key technology specialisations, with some significant anomalies.

The field of QA and Testing has a far smaller gap, with Reading and its commutable areas possessing 7% of the UK’s QA Testers, juxtaposed against London’s 11%. Testers also change roles with lower frequency in London than Java engineers.

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The .NET field shows similar trends across the board, with London possessing a significant portion (21%) of the UK's .NET professionals, compared to the 7% of Reading and its commutable areas. The ratio of job posts to professionals in Reading and its surrounding is slightly skewed towards job posts, meaning there is more competition from hirers. Nonetheless, the Reading .NET community is fairly stable, with 94% of developers staying in the same job for more than a year.

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The Data field sees a massive gap between London and Reading in terms of jobs posted. Incredibly, London accounts for 52% of the UK's Data job posts, creating a huge demand for Data workers. Due to this demand, 28% of the UK's entire Data workforce resides in London – and the high competition for this talent has resulted in a high turnover rate, with 35% of these professionals changing their jobs in the past year alone. Comparatively, Reading and its commutable areas have a stable 6% across all categories, meaning the talent is meeting job opportunities and professionals are more settled in their jobs.

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And these are just general technology specialisations. The moment that you start narrowing your search down by seniority, capability, or tooling, the pool constricts considerably. In London, this might mean your pool of 6,000 professionals dwindling to 800; in Reading, your eligible pool may disappear entirely.

The most interesting statistics for us were the number of jobs being posted and the number of people who had moved roles in the last year. An analysis of the total time spent in role rather than frequency of job moves showed an almost total equilibrium between London and Reading. More significant here was that this didn't pass two years for any specialism – a reassuring number and a key takeaway in terms of how long you can generally expect a technology hire to remain in the same position.

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The percentage of technology jobs posted against UK averages was more telling. In all areas but .NET and QA, this is significantly higher for London. This is representative of higher competition for talent and – highly likely – a far greater number of recruitment agencies.

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Micro-design positions to mirror the career desires of the available talent pool.

In small talent pools, macro-targeting of applications via a generic job spec simply won’t work – there are not enough potential hires to rely on pot-luck. You need specifics. Work out the career stage applicants will have reached, position the journey they will be motivated by within your business needs, and design a role that speaks only to that target hire.

Establish your employer brand through tech-based events and meetups.

Events are a key way to establish your employer brand as an industry leader, and marketing such things locally is far more straightforward than doing so in the crowded London market. It’s a simple fact: smaller talent pools are easier to become a big fish in.

By starting a local tech-based event such as a hackathon, meetup, or workshop that adds genuine value to the local community, you can start building connections with technology professionals in your area and will put your company at the forefront of people’s minds – both of which can be a huge advantage when it comes time to hire.

Control your brand and be reactive when dealing with talent and agency feedback.

Applicants in smaller talent pools experience contact from fewer employers than in larger ones, and are far more likely to remember it over time. This can be good, because it means that a good interview or good experience can go miles; but it can also be challenging if someone has a bad experience.

Knowing exactly what applicants are hearing about your firm – from which agencies and websites – and ensuring that feedback is well-managed is absolutely critical to maintaining a positive word-of-mouth reputation for your brand.

Capitalise on the static nature of outer-city professionals.

This is the single biggest advantage of smaller, static talent pools over larger, more fluid ones. New people enter and leave the London talent pool rapidly and tend to do so in transitional life stages. Smaller, non-London talent pools tend to comprise employees who serve longer in each company and are more settled in their personal lives. This means they are around for the long-term.

Speak to them, keep them interested, and make them understand why working for your firm would be a good life and career decision for them.

Plan positions that last for two years with a clear learning and promotion goal outline.

According to the data, two years is a healthy time for someone to spend in the same position. Job moves are usually driven by a desire to get a promotion, new skills, or a new salary – if this cannot be achieved internally within the organisation, they will be sought elsewhere. Retention in such cases is 100% possible IF the applicant is given a clear career destination with explicit deliverables.

Wondering about how to hire tech professionals effectively?
Want to discover the key ways to attract and retain the best talent?

At Talent Point, we help organisations amplify their ability to attract, engage and retain technology teams by putting planning, data and career growth at the heart of their hiring.

As part of our ongoing commitment to keeping our finger on the pulse of London's tech industry so as to better serve our customers, we have released a number of the data reports and analyses prepared by our research team.

If you think what we do could help you,
we'd love to talk to you.

Otherwise, we hope you gained tangible, actionable insights to take with you
on your journey to create winning tech teams.






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