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Tech sector employers are often fiercely competitive over candidates, so what can we learn from EKM, a small web company in Lancashire that claims it's more difficult to get into than Oxford and does not publicise roles?
With so much noise about talent shortages in the tech sector, it’s perhaps unusual to find a company that’s turning skilled candidates away.
This is not Google or Facebook either – it’s a small organisation based in Preston, Lancashire where managing director Antony Chesworth believes it’s harder to get a job than it is to get a place at Oxford University.
EKM is the UK’s main platform provider for online shops (similar to Canadian company Shopify), and Chesworth estimates that out of all the CVs and applications that are sent to the company - only 0.3% are hired, on a par with successful applications to the dreaming spires. EKM does not rely on recruiters or explicitly advertise roles, preferring instead to have an active social media presence. Customer events also often become a source of candidates: individuals who enjoy working with the platform and know the business as a customer are keen to come on board as employees.
“We have around 75 employees at the moment – we recruit engineers, programmers like any other web company but we’re also looking for salespeople, customer service people and designers,” says Chesworth. “We probably hire around three to four people a month and it can feel for some managers that they’re hiring all the time.”
Making recruitment integral to the success of the business has helped to build a culture where the workforce is as important as the customer, he adds. “We’ve accepted that recruitment is part of business – rather than seeing it as ‘we need to find someone fo