EP4: Adapting to Change and Challenges in IT recruitment with Tatyana Melnichuk

Welcome to All-In Recruitment. A thought-provoking, insightful series of podcasts. This series discusses ways to develop the right people strategy in startups from the get-go and build on that to create a strong company culture. We are joined by Tatyana Melnichuk, Founder, Lucky Hunter which is based in the UK. This episode focuses on understanding the complex and tough challenges the IT recruitment sector faces.


The transcript has been edited for clarity.

Let’s Welcome Tatyana Melnichuk

Lydia: Hi, Tatyana, thank you so much for joining us all the way from the UK. Good morning to you.  I'm so excited to have you here. So, it's a warm welcome. Finally get to see you. Thank you for agreeing to share your insights and wisdom with us today in All-In Recruitment.

Tatyana: It’s a pleasure to be here, Lydia. Thank you for the invitation.

Lydia: You've had a really interesting background, and you've had your start in HR. You've worked as an HR manager, you've also been an HR business partner and then you went on to start a number of companies in the last four to five years.

So today, you lead a team of recruiters, and I understand all of them are girls in your own IT recruitment for Lucky Hunter, and you are based in the UK.

So, maybe in your own words, you can tell us about your journey and what led you to entrepreneurship in this industry and maybe some experiences. You've had some very important experiences running Lucky Hunter, especially in the past year.

Tatyana: Recruiting has been in my life for more than 15 years. I was first interested and became a recruitment consultant, and after that, I grew to be the head of the recruitment department in the agency.

After that, I started working in a top American, Danish and British company, and I was a Chartered Business Partner. After some time, I understood that working in the coolest IT startup made me realize what I should be doing next.  

The next step was for me to open my agency in IT as I love IT. I teach about the dangers of IT, and I love recruiting, but I mostly love IT. It’s cool working with young guys who handle projects because you get to be a part of it and you get to help develop products.

My company, Lucky Hunter, has been working in the global market for more than five years. We have offices in the UK, in Kazakhstan and Armenia; so a total of three offices. I have a big team of recruiters and as I mentioned earlier, they are all girls.

Also, people who are in IT work remotely all over the world.

Lydia: So, remote working. You have two team members I understand from our conversation earlier. Two of them who were based in Ukraine during the crisis period.

So what was that experience like getting them to safety?

Tatyana: Yes, it was a really stressful period for us. As you know,  currently, there is a conflict between Ukraine and Russia. When this conflict began, we had to think quickly on what we should do. We understood that our girls should relocate outside the country to a safer place. The easiest way and safest was Georgia. So, right now, they’re there and it’s a safe place.

After a couple of months, they will relocate to the UK because the British Government has just created a Ukranian Visa which will make it easier to engage. We need some time to prepare everything for them. But yes, it was a time that was extremely stressful for us.

Lydia: I'm glad to know that they are all safe now and  things are going back to slightly more normal operations for you as well.

What’s shaped Tech Recruitment today?

Lydia: So, Tatyana, you've spent 15 years, as you said, in the recruitment industry and you have definitely seen how challenging the industry has been, especially in the past few years and in particular the tech recruitments in which you’ve had many different roles.

So, what do you think are some of the trends in the past few years that have shaped tech recruitment today?

Tatyana: It’s been remote work because of COVID. A lot of companies have just started to offer remote work for developers. This, I think, is the main trend in the IT market. Second would be the extremely high salaries given.

“What I mean is that every company, not just the IT companies, understand that they can’t work without having an IT department”

They require things for remote work. For tools, you need developers, and the more tools means more developers.

This is why there is a high demand for developers. We have had a lot of vacancies and not a lot of developers to fill the vacancies. That is why many companies have started to increase salaries. During the pandemic, there was a statistic that said salaries increased by 20%. Developers were getting five, six or more offers from different companies. They could just choose between the offers by seeing which one has the bigger and better projects. This is the second trend, I think.

The third trend seen in a lot of foreign companies like in America, Europe and UK is to hire Russian speaking developers. It’s because it’s easier and cheaper and you can get extremely skilled candidates. Before the conflict, this was a really popular decision taken by foreign companies. Russian speaking developers know how to speak English well. You can also pay really low taxes in Russia where it is only 6%. You can pay in your currency, whether it be Dollar, Euro or Pounds. There are no issues for this, and you can get really skilled developers. So yeah, this is a key trend.

How you can find the right talent using live interview tests

Lydia: That's very interesting, actually, because you have so many to choose from. I mean, a very highly skilled tech entrepreneur, very highly skilled tech professional will be able to choose from so many different opportunities.

So, let's consider some developments in your region. Just recently, I read the BBC reporting that there's been a record number of vacancies, and the quit rates are at an all time high in the UK.

I mean, obviously, as you've already mentioned, the war for talent is fierce. So, does this correspond with what you’ve seen so far?

You've mentioned a little bit what you've seen so far in the tech recruitment scene. What might this mean for recruiters today in terms of speed and hiring the right person for the role, hiring the right person particularly?

Tatyana: HR recruitment in the UK now is developing well, which is good news for us. But I often say that it is important to work quickly. For recruiters, they want to be fast at finding the right talent. I think the market right now looks like the top developers aren’t actively looking for a job. They’re just taking it easy.

On the other hand, girls like us come on LinkedIn and write a message saying that they are looking for a job. So, I look at offers from our customers and so on. But for developers, they will say this is interesting, but they also have a lot of different offers from different recruiters. For recruiters, customers, and companies, they should think about their past processes of recruiting. They need to be fast in creating interviews and providing feedback for the candidates. This is really important for the HDD.

The second thing is home-test tasks, which is not the right way to hire highly skilled developers.

Many companies right now are carrying out live coding during interviews. Everybody knows what live coding is. When its done during the interview, its’ just the developer coding some tasks. The developer can just share his/her screen and start coding something.  This is effective because you can see how the developer thinks, how the developer solves the problem and you know that this is the developers work.

But when you give the developer a home-test task, there is no guarantee the developer did the task. So this is really important.

Give him a home-test task, who can guarantee that he did it? So and yeah, this is really important.

Right now, we have a lot of companies from all over the world and none of them give home-test tasks for developers. Some are the worlds biggest IT companies and they’re all using live coding or technical interviews.

Lydia: Talking about live coding earlier, you said that many companies are using that and they're not using home tests anymore. How long do you think such a process would take?

Would it make things faster using live coding to find the right kind of the right talent?

Tatyana: Of course. The recruiting process in popular IT companies start with a general technical interview. This is with the team leads or senior developers. Sometimes it looks like questions and answers. If everything is okay, then the second interview will be coding. This is the deep technical interview where the company can check the developer’s experience. If the developer passes this, then comes the offer presentation.

The main problem right now is rejected offers. As I said earlier, developers get a lot of offers and they can just choose which one. So they can choose between one, two, or five offers. For us, it’s a problem because customers ask us ‘how quickly can you fill this job opening?’ We promise them that we can find a finalist quickly for them, but then the problem comes where the candidate might not accept the job. It’s dependent on the offer, and not the recruiters work.

We do have a standard in our company, though. We will provide you with the first candidate within the first four days after opening the job discussion and more candidates in between two to three weeks. So, we are always trying our best.

Right now, the demand for developers is really high and that’s why we have a lot of projects.

Recruitment tools: how they can impact your recruiting process

Lydia: So, these are really interesting insights Tatyana, because you know, with live coding, etc, you also need to ensure that from a recruiters point of view, you are automating as much of your processes as possible, and aligning that with what the current trends are in terms of using tools and technologies that are available.

What kind of impact do you think using technologies and tools recruitment technologies and tools will have on the recruitment process itself?

Tatyana: IT recruiters should be using recruiting tools, and for me, I find it really strange when IT recruiters don’t use anything. I ask them, ‘do you use any CRM system to automate your process?’ And when companies or recruiters say no, then I find that really strange and think how is it possible? Being in IT menas that you can automate everything and make the process faster.

We’re using CRM systems for our recruiting because it’s really important to work fast. We have a huge database of candidates, and we look at old candidates as well because we have a history saved of every single candidate. It’s really important for us to optimize the process.

We also have many different platforms. So for instance, like Slack. This is a really comfortable messaging platform where our customers and everyone who uses it feels comfortable. It’s convenient communicating with customers there.

We also use JIRA and we have other tools for communication between ourselves and our customers. We also have tools for ourselves, not just the customer. We find that recruiting happens very fast. When competing with other agencies and there’s only one vacancy, we should be better, faster and smarter. Tools will help us to achieve this.

Lydia: On that note, let's talk about the candidate experience from that point of view. You  know, giving them the kind of memorable experience you mentioned earlier that rejections are also very high in terms of IT recruitment.

So, what would you say in your experience so far are some of the ways recruiters can ensure candidate care throughout the recruitment process?

Tatyana: First, I would like to tell you that candidates don’t put a lot of thoughts into their CVs. We often don’t receive complete CVs. So, we usually get the information from their LinkedIn profile and that’s all we have.

Lydia: One of the services that you've offered before is to look into CVs.

So, what might be some of the main observations we've made as a recruiter about job seekers, in terms of making sure they have a CV that makes an impact?

Tatyana: I work in IT recruiting and my observations are also related to specific offers of this particular industry. In general, over the years of working, I noticed that its mainly IT specialists who sometimes have problems in creating high impact CVs.

So all we have is just a LinkedIn profile or GitHub profile. We are looking for red words such as ‘he’s a Java developer’ or ‘this guy is a Golang developer.’ Then, you can send them a message saying that ‘we saw you have these qualifications, maybe you’d fit our proposal.’

This is how our market works. But, I’ve never seen a great CV from candidates.

When I was younger, I worked in a general agency dealing with different vacancies such as a sales manager etc. These candidates created a complete CV with full information, but you will never see this in IT.

Maybe right now, somebody is looking for a job who is a junior specialist and not well-recognized by companies. So, this is some great advice for you. .

First, you should start with writing your work experience from the last place you’ve worked. This is really important becasue if you mention the first place of work, the recruiter is confused as to how you’ve developed experience. So, if you say you’ve worked at Mcdonald’s when you were younger, and right now you’re a senior developer, how will the recruiter know how you got the experience.

The second thing is to provide facts such as about your location and where it is you wish to relocate. It’s important for the companies because if you want to relocate to another country, then you should write this in your CV, and it will be easier for companies and recruiters. Also, if you have a stack of technologiy skills, then please include them on your CV.

Recruiters spend only 10 seconds reviewing your CV. Professional recruiters look only for important words to see if this candidate can be a good fit or not. So then, the recruiter will spend 10 more seconds reviewing the CV.

Lydia: 10 seconds?

Tatyana: Yeah, 10 seconds.  

Starting out in tech recruitment today: here’s what you should know

Lydia: Those are great pieces of advice coming from a recruiters’ point of view, and also to make the job easier for recruiters, especially when you have to pass through so many CVs and volumes of them that come in.

Just to close this. You have shared so much today. I'm really glad to hear all your insights and you've had vast experience in the recruitment space, particularly IT recruitment.

So what advice would you give to someone who's starting out in IT recruitment today?

Tatyana: What I can say is that right now, it’s become much easier than what it was five years ago. Right now, you can find a lot of courses, a lot of books, information and many Youtube channels about recruitment. When I first started out, it was really difficult finding any information about IT.

“The first thing is that you should understand what it takes to be a high skilled tech recruiter. This is because developers pick up fast whether you have experience and knowledge about test technologies. If you don’t, then nobody will speak to you”

You need to understand the differences between the test technologies. Information is available now, so please use Google to search.

The second thing is that you should be brave. I remember how difficult it was writing to people and creating an offer for them. It was difficult creating the first interview as well. So just be brave. If you don’t know something, you can always ask the candidate. Don’t worry too much and if you make a mistake, then everybody will deal with it together.

Remember that people can have different moods. Some will be smart and kind, others will be aggressive and not so kind. If you are a professional and handle it well, you can stop the dialogue every time. It’s normal also if you don’t know something.

I’ve been working in the IT field for many years and everyday, there’s new technology and new tools being created. So it’s normal if you don’t know something. But, you should always be thinking how you can solve a task, how you can find developers. Remember, the tasks are not impossible, all tasks are possible. You can solve it if you put in effort and time.

Stay in touch with Tatyana here

Lydia: The learning culture applies to everyone, especially so in industries or recruiters who have to learn really fast, just as fast as those they are recruiting I suppose.

So thank you so much Tatyana for your time today.

It was great to hear your insights about IT recruitment and your experiences, running your company, looking at the trends that are affecting tech recruitment today and also those great pieces of advice and it's been a great pleasure having you on the show.

I'm sure the audience also wants to know where to find you. So where can they look?

Tatyana: You can search our website, LuckyHunter.co.uk. There, you can find information about us, our services. You can also search my LinkedIn profile by my email or find me across any social media. I’m on there, so you can find me easily.

Lydia: Thank you so much Tatyana.

We have been speaking with Tatyana Melnichuk.

Who is the founder at Lucky Hunter, an IT recruitment firm based in the UK.

Do look out for our future podcasts and stay tuned for our next videos.

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