Fiona Devine is Senior IT Recruitment Consultant at Eden Recruitment.  

So how did you end up here in the Green Chair?

I’m a proud Derry girl, and with my father being a shopkeeper in the city, I grew up meeting and dealing with people on a daily basis. It was only later on, having graduated from Queens in law and politics and working in a legal and insolvency practice, that I realised how much I missed this interaction. That set me on the path to a career in recruitment – aided and abetted, I might add, by a recruiter who recognised where my talents might best be deployed!

I’d found my calling, and Dublin beckoned for the employment opportunities it offered.

How is the market for IT staff this year?

Demand for IT talent has been buoyant for a number of years as Ireland’s reputation as a technology hub continues to grow and the big issues of 2018 – GDPR and cybersecurity – have triggered rapid growth in IT security, data analytics and machine learning in particular. Experienced staff with skills in these areas are much sought after, as are software developers.

It’s a fact that we need to look abroad to source talent in certain sectors. Candidates are encouraged by the growth opportunities here and by the beauty and sociability of the country itself, but rent prices and the cost of living generally in Dublin are often off-putting, as is the red tape surrounding visas. Making this easier would help bring much needed highly skilled talent to our shores in areas such as machine learning and software development.

The million-dollar question – how does a company attract the best people?

In this tight market, it’s about differentiation. Employers should ask themselves “what makes our company a unique one to work for?” And then “how do I convey this to candidates as part of the recruitment process?” Many companies invest heavily in creating a fabulous working environment, but often candidates don’t get to experience it until onboarding day despite having gone through several rounds of a recruitment process … an opportunity lost.

In many companies, the process of selecting the right talent is a lengthy and rigorous one – with good reason. However, it is a fact that the best candidates often lose patience and look elsewhere. In many cases, companies would benefit from streamlining the process and making it more flexible.

And how to keep them?

For me, retention is about engagement – an engaged workforce is a happier, more productive workforce. That doesn’t require spending lots of money.  Employers need to find out what keeps their employees engaged and work round it. Taking an interest in the health and well-being of staff is always appreciated, be it through offering gym membership, wellness events etc. Reward people for doing well and invest in training – everyone wants to improve their skillsets and facilitating this can only benefit the organisation as a whole.

Foster your employees’ passion for their work by giving them time to work on their own projects, ideally through a structure whereby both parties can benefit from the fruits of their work. Software development is an area where you see this working successfully.

What’s your advice to people facing a job interview in IT?

Be passionate. There’s nothing an employer likes to see more than positivity and enthusiasm for the role at hand. Especially in the case of graduates, it can compensate for a lack of experience.  At the same time, be honest and don’t oversell yourself.  Bring your personality, be happy, upbeat and show an employer that there’s more to you than your work experience. Communication and problem-solving skills are much prized in the industry, so be sure to work on these. Finally, be up to speed on the company – it’s easy to do and employers always like chatting about their business!

What do you find most satisfying about your job?

Helping to shape people’s futures is rewarding in itself. I get satisfaction from seeing my clients being happy with their new employees and for IT professionals to be challenged and fulfilled in their new roles.  Building relationships and getting to know and understand people is very much suited to my personality.

Tell us something your clients may not know about you …

Well, I am a qualified make-up artist and I’ve done work for weddings and all sorts of formal occasions back in Derry. (Not that I spend endless hours in front of the mirror every morning, mind!!)