Small digital businesses set to increase hiring in 2016, study finds

New research carried out by online auction site eBay has found that a third of digital SMEs in the UK are planning to launch recruitment drives for new talent over the next 12 months.

The eBay Employee Skills Index survey, which was undertaken in partnership with YouGov, asked over 400 small UK businesses about their plans for the coming year, particularly in relation to expansion, digital marketing strategies and the need for new staff.

As well as one in three strongly indicating that they will be hiring more staff over the next 12 months, many SME employers also gave more detail into what they actually look for in a new employee. The results will be surprising to some, as around 70% said that they favoured “University of Life” candidates rather than those with a university degree. The survey showed that UK digital SMEs placed just as much value on hands-on experience as official qualifications when considering candidates for new positions. In fact, over 56% said that they valued experience over any other criteria, while 70% of digital businesses went so far as to describe a candidate having a degree as “unimportant”.

Many innovative digital companies, from Facebook to Google, have revealed that their hiring practices extend beyond looking for candidates who are “good on paper”. By encouraging enthusiastic self-taught coders and passionate social media marketers to apply for positions, a company can attract the talent it needs to innovate, expand and crucially – keep up with its competitors in an extremely fast-moving digital landscape.

Digital skills in demand

Candidates with a strong grasp of advertising and marketing are currently in demand if the eBay UK research is anything to go by, as 61% of employers said that they are actively seeking them. Digital skills including coding and social media experience are also considered highly valuable by companies wanting to bring these activities in-house without having to rely on external agencies. The survey found that:

  • 56% of recruiters are looking for candidates with overall digital skills
  • 41% are actively seeking those with coding skill
  • 51% place great importance on social media skills during the recruitment process

Commenting on the findings of the research, eBay UK’s vice president Tanya Lawler said:

“The nature of business, especially online retail, is changing rapidly.

“Our business-savvy SMB community is on the look-out for versatile talent – regardless of age, background or gender – with the personable skills and life experience to help them develop and grow.

“It’s good news for the online retail space and for new hires as recruitment picks up in 2016.”

If you need to find the digital innovators who can drive your company forward, SOLOS Consultants can help. Experts in digital recruitment for businesses of all sizes and in all industries, the SOLOS team have the connections, experience and passion to find the very best digital talent. Get in touch to find out about both client and candidate services.


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