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Recruitment in Lockdown: Women Who Code event.

Bright Purple hosted a virtual event with Women Who Code to discuss Recruitment during lockdown. Read on for the tips and advice shared.

About Women Who Code

Women Who Code is an international non-profit dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers. They have dozens of city networks, each ran by individuals local to that area who organise events and advertise relevant job opportunities. Women Who Code Edinburgh was launched in June 2017, and currently has 1612 members. Their vision is a world where women are proportionally represented as technical leaders, executives, founders, VCs, board members and software engineers.
As we all continue to adjust to the way of working that Covid-19 has instigated, the recruitment process for candidates, employers and recruiters themselves has in some cases changed dramatically. At our virtual event with Women Who Code, we discussed the changes that the recruitment industry has faced, experiences of stakeholders so far, and some handy tips to keep focused while working from home. Here are some of the highlights of the session, with the key points shared.

The candidate experience of remote interviewing and on-boarding

For candidates, making a first impression via video call is certainly a new experience. However, it seems that remote interviews are working well.
Candidates have benefited from being able to have prep notes on hand off-screen to look back to, and have had some stress removed from not having the daunting journey to the employer’s office or interview location. Many employers have also loosened dressed codes for virtual interviews, which has helped many candidates feel more relaxed.
It's not a benefit to everyone however, as some candidates felt that not having a proper home office could potentially have a negative impact when interviewing for a job. Fears that background noise, poor wifi signal and interference could impact negatively were all common themes from the discussion. It’s important for employers to understand these concerns, and to not hold this as a negative against an interviewee.
Although on-boarding remotely has been regarded as successful from a process point of view, it is clear that new employees are feeling a significant difference in building relationships with new colleagues remotely. However, one great initiative mentioned was “Donut” on Slack – where colleagues are randomly paired up to get to know each other better over a virtual coffee.

The recruitment point of view: industry insights and market trends

Bright Purple provided insight from a recruitment perspective in the session, where trends in the market from March 2020 were discussed: from the roles and skill-sets that have had increased demand, to what industries are hiring, and the trend with market rates.

Contract Roles       

  • The most notable impact at the start of the pandemic was to contract roles, which went on hold very quickly. Hospitality, travel and tourism and oil and gas industries were heavily affected
  • Day rates for contractors significantly dropped (circa 20%) due to the lack of demand and increased supply for contractors 
  • As the pandemic continued to worsen, contract roles began to increase again, as employers prioritised contract over permanent roles – with the thought process that contract roles required less commitment

An increase in permanent roles for specific tech industries

  • From August 2020 onwards, a trend began to emerge within industries such as MedTech, Cloud, Network, Cyber Security, Utilities and Ecommerce
  • As companies rushed to move their businesses online, security and online solutions have become more and more important

Bright Purple’s clients and own hiring processes

  • Bright Purple have continued to see employees being onboard remotely in the last few months, including with our own new starts
  • More and more companies are now looking at long-term adaptability, offering more flexible and remote working as a long-term solutions, even when offices do re-open

Mental health and well-being

Bright Purple reiterated the importance of health and wellbeing at work, particularly around selfcare and resilience in uncertain times.

The Employer point of view – recruitment and selection process during Covid-19

  • Employers have found the value in a more personal and tailored recruitment process, aiming for an authentic and personalised experience for candidates.
  • Alongside this, employer recruitment teams have been going above and beyond to make the process Pandemic proof – providing as much information as possible on the process and how best to prepare
  • They key to a successful recruitment campaign has been communication: information is shared regularly, especially on next steps and the candidates’ needs being identified and accommodated for
  • Trends were found in the time of day that employers could contact candidates: with most people working from home, candidates have been more flexible in when they can answer the phone!
  • Employers have found candidates to be even more anxious and keen to hear back after having applied for a role: a trend not unexpected throughout a time of high unemployment rates and uncertainty for many.

Q&A Session

We ended the event with a Q&A session. Here are some of the key takeaways from questions asked: 
  • Remote working in the future:  we are seeing more and more flexible working and remote working practices being implemented, with many companies looking at offering 2-3 days per week from home
  • Advice for women returning to work after long periods: have a very specific cover note detailing circumstances as well detailing on your CV any learning and development or personal projects you have completed
  • Diversity and Inclusion: the very real awakening and awareness of this – talking about referrals and the danger that these might be for “people just like you”
  • With video interviews there may be more of a judgement as you can see in people’s homes; it may be another element for (unconscious) bias.
  • There was a great example shared of an entire workforce completing diversity and inclusion training, with those involved in recruitment having even more of a focus on this
  • A fantastic quote we heard on the night was “Culture add rather than fit”. We all need to be aware and mindful of the value diversity brings
  • There is a lot of research that shows that the bottom line improves when you have a diverse workforce. There is a real danger in just hiring people that are just like you - you might be missing out on a lot of talent.
  • Helpful Tools – HackerRank was mentioned as a key site for exercises and code tests
  • Women in tech approaching senior members of the business to get a better insight – asking them if they are open to having a conversation
  • Dealing with rejection – although incredibly tough to hear sometimes, it can at times be really good feedback and work in your favour – make sure you get as much feedback as possible and focus on where you can develop
Thank you to everyone who attended the event, we hope it was insightful and valuable!
Despite the hardships that have come with the pandemic, we believe that Covid-19 may give some companies that push they need to embrace change and implement flexible working practices in the long-term, to meet the needs of their employees.  


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