Andy Crouch - Code, Technology & Obfuscation ...

Genders & IT Recruitment

Woman On Laptop In Cafe

Photo: Unsplash

I’d like to discuss something that happened recently relating to IT recruitment. It’s about the approach taken by recruiters when compiling candidate lists. It is something that I will admit I have never noticed until now and it is they never include women.

Never? Never! I thought back to the times I have resorted to hiring via traditional IT recruiters. I, never once, have had a woman’s CV forwarded for a developer role.

At Open Energy Market I have held a large number of interviews over the last 2 years. I prefer to target developers via job boards and favour Hacker News as a great resource. In fact, the best developers I have hired over the last couple of projects I have worked on have come from there. Last July I wanted to hire a Full-Stack .Net web developer but came up short. For once Hacker News came up short.

I am targeted by recruiters on a daily basis and have spoken to a selected few that came recommended. Due to an urgent need to hire I decided to see what candidates these recruiters would present. On purpose, I limited myself to only 3 recruiters.

The first round of CV’s sent over were not particularly impressive. In talking to the recruiter that provided them I asked why this might be. She told me that it was the best of the current applicants local to our office. I reminded her that I was not worried about location and was happy to hire a remote team member. She started to get very excited and ask what other variants would I accept. Would I like to talk to Full Stack developers skilled in other languages and frameworks? Was I concerned with age?

I answered her questions and I realised that being very flexible still ended in the same result. Male only candidates. So I asked, “Do you not deal with women developers?” The response I got was “Oh! You would want to review the CV’s of women developers?”

“Oh! You would want to review the CV’s of women developers?”

This recruiter was a woman I should add. “Yes, of course, I would,” I said gobsmacked that she would respond in this way. The result was around 10 more CV’s added to my review list.

This made me sit and think when I came off of the phone with her. Is that a normal approach? Do I have to prompt a recruiter to include women’s CV’s for technical roles? I started to try and think back to the conversations I have had with recruiters. Had I said or suggested something in my requirements that would cause this approach. I called up the other two recruiters I was dealing with at the time and repeated the conversation. “CV lists are weak …” “Remote is fine … “ “Other language experience is OK …” Then I asked each of them “Do you not deal with women developers?” Once again they responded in line with the first recruiter. Once again I said that I was keen to interview great developers regardless of their gender.

As it turned out I hired a developer that resulted from these conversations. She is remote based and was by far the best and most suitable candidate I interviewed for the role.

This experience made me think, is this a common issue with recruiters? I have always had a mix of candidates regardless of gender when using job boards. I have never once had women’s developer’s CV forwarded by a recruiter. Should it be my responsibility to actually give my permission to allow women to apply? I 100% do not think that should be the case at all. I do not think any hiring manager should have to even consider this in 2017. Is it caused by the target-driven nature of the recruitment business? Is it a hangover from less equal times? Whatever the reason it is wrong.

I hope when I hire next I do not find this still to be the case. It likely will be and I will be mindful to ask earlier in the process.

I encourage you to as well.