Mind The Gap… Engagement Through To Filling The Gaps?

Currently ‘Women in Tech’ is a real buzz phrase, however, it is important to make it clear that it shouldn’t be about ticking a box; who you are or where you are from, it should ALWAYS be about how good you are at your job. The current and future workforce needs to be supported and encouraged to work to their strengths and skills, building a career around these in order to drive innovation forward.

Start At The Start

Years ago, when I was at school, a computer system informed me that I was going to be either a nurse or a teacher – neither of which were careers I had any desire to explore further. However, that was the end of the conversation, and there wasn’t any further consideration for skills I had already developed or interests I had. Whilst it is clear that career guidance has advanced since then; there is still an expectation that you make your career choices at 14 years old through the GCSE’s, A-Levels, and the degree you study at University. This is an unfair expectation for a child to know what job they want to do in ten years’ time; when we don’t even know what jobs will look like in two to three years.

There needs to be a comprehensive engagement process for our future workforce – sparking their interests and exploring how their skills and hobbies will be vital to future industries – a future that without a doubt will include technology.

As per McKinsey’s 2018 report on Employee Experience, Millennials are certainly a factor. They comprise ‘30% of the population and by 2025 will represent 75% of the global workforce ’. Interest will surely spark innovation for our future workforce and innovation is now a vital tool in technology.

Don’t Fall Behind With Technology

By 2030, the UK faces the potential of three million jobs being left unfilled (Consultancy UK). This stems from an aging population, the disruption Brexit may cause to the workforce coming from Europe; and a general lack of skilled workers. In addition to this shortfall, McKinsey states that ‘by 2030, we will be spending 41% more time using advanced technology skills compared to what we use at the moment’; and that the ‘need for advanced IT and programming skills could grow as much as 90%’ in that time
(McKinsey report). Therefore, in order to try and combat this shortfall, and demand for specific skills; it is imperative that technology becomes part of the school curriculum alongside more traditional subjects.

Another thought is that Artificial Intelligence and Automation will provide a way of filling some of this shortfall (Consultancy UK) – however it is claimed that ‘over a third of IT decision-makers in the UK’s largest financial services companies are not ready to implement the technology into their business’ ( World Finance ). Organizations need to invest and focus on re-training and up-skilling the current workforce to make way for the future way of working.

So Where Are The Biggest Skills Gaps?

Having recruited across the tech sector for the best part of a decade, Barlow Search has been able to become experts within the technology space and understand what organizations are looking for in their candidates. Marek Brazier-Kobus, MD at Barlow Search, regularly discusses with clients the skill demands companies are facing “Technology is moving so quickly, it is an almost impossible task for humans to keep up. Clients are constantly looking to blend the incredible skills of the next generation with the
experience and knowledge of implementation that the current workforce has. Connecting our clients with the next Johanna Konta of the tech world, someone to combine both strategy and skill is always a challenge for us”.

It is also about expanding skills to cross-connect industry or interest areas, combining hard and soft skills “More often we see highly skilled technical candidates learning a foreign language, alongside specific project management training in a bid to move into global strategy, a wise move in my opinion as technology is allowing global working to be much more accessible”.

According to LinkedIn who recently analyzed hundreds of thousands of job posts to find the top in-demand skills; ‘creativity, persuasion and collaboration’ are the top soft skills; and ‘cloud computing, AI and analytical reasoning’ are rated as the top hard skills in 2019 (CNBC report).

Does Your Future Have To Be Futuristic?

For many of us who grew up in the 80’s ‘The Future of Technology’ has always meant one thing….the hoverboard. As a child and Back To The Future fan, the hoverboard replacing the car represented to be the most exciting use of technology and innovation. It was the beacon for all things futuristic and technologically advanced.

Fast forward 35 years, and although we still live in hope for this childhood dream to become an everyday reality, in the ‘real world’ we have to look at the technological advancements that have been made, and the exciting potential yet to come.

As a recruitment consultant, working within the world of emerging technology and digital change, every day provides an opportunity to speak with candidates about the work they are doing, research next generation tech and innovation, and see examples of how healthcare, manufacturing, research, and automotive industries are ever-evolving. It is easy to picture the future of technology as one where robots rule, and human interaction somehow becomes less efficient, important, and desirable. Images of robotic production lines, fully self-serviced shopping experiences, automated customer support systems conjure up mixed emotions where the desire for speed and efficiency compete with the emotional need for human interaction and personalized service.

We all want, and have now come to expect instant, efficient, ‘one-click’ style access to goods and services and because of this technology has to meet these demands. Although this expectation now seems to be a societal standard, many still worry that advancements in technology will eventually create a world where robots rule. The thought that we will somehow be
stuck in a real-life sci-fi movie, surrounded by machines has again called on another of the ’80s most famous films, where Skynet and The Terminator got us thinking (and for many of us, worrying) about what the future would look like.

If we stop to consider and remove ourselves from the over-excitement of cinema, we can really appreciate technology and the unbelievable benefits it could provide in the future. A recent report predicted, “Robots will displace 75 million jobs globally by 2022, but create 133 million new ones” (World Economic Forum ). Advancements, particularly within healthcare are offering life-changing and life-saving opportunities for future detection and treatment of serious medical conditions. Automated processes within the workplace are streamlining processes, to ensure repetitive tasks are completed quickly and efficiently to allow the staff team to utilize their
time and skillset on more technically challenging, thought-led roles.

Advancements in cybersecurity are ensuring our financial safety, personal data protection, and physical safety in terms of national and international defense. These advancements may not appear to be all singing and dancing, tangible technology that we have seen on the big screen, however,
this does not diminish their planning, design, purpose, and potential. We rely on amazing technology and those at the forefront of research and development, and although we may not ‘see’ it, we reap the benefits every minute of every day.

For us at Barlow Search, the future of technology holds exciting prospects. We do not worry that candidate selection and recruitment will be a process defined by algorithms and automation, and the role of the recruitment consultant will become obsolete. We want to embrace new technology to efficiently source the best candidates for our open roles, therefore allowing us to dedicate our time to interact with both clients and candidates to build our professional relationships, improve industry expertise………and above all, time to daydream about our future hoverboard commute to work!

How To Write A Winning CV

Make your CV stand out!

Your CV needs to stand out for the right reasons:  Ensure it is clear, no fancy font, and easy to read.   Read through the advertised Job Spec, identify what is required and how your experience and abilities match those required.  Whilst your CV will list out your work history with details of your role and what you did, any relevant projects or clients worked for, you should also reference the requirements listed in the Job spec where you have the relevant experience.

Keep note of any training and key events!

Ensure that training in specific tools such as Blue Prism or UiPath and the accreditation is recorded, and how this knowledge or skills was then applied in the role.   If you have attended conferences or seminars, or gained experience or knowledge of new technologies like RPA and AI provide details and how it has supported your development and provided benefit in the role. 

Highlight some key achievements

If you have been involved in projects requiring teams working across departments,  locations, or multiple organizations, provide details, employers are looking to see if you would fit into their culture, do they see any synergy, and can you demonstrate the necessary interpersonal skills required to succeed in delivering projects to a timescale, budget and business objectives. Also, don’t forget to highlight a few achievements from past roles so that you can demonstrate what you personally achieved and contributed towards the wider project.


Always check for spelling, don’t just rely on a spellchecker, and get someone to read it through and comment on whether it makes sense. Don’t overemphasize your abilities or experience, you are likely to be found out at the reference stage and it adversely affects your integrity which may cause employers to doubt your credibility. 

How To Succeed In Your Job Interview

You have been invited to an interview, so how do you prepare?

Look at what information you have about the role and organization.  Gather together the job advert, job specification and go through again, making notes of key elements of the role, cross-reference with your own experience.  What information do you have about the organization, do your research, it gives you a better idea of their business and activities. 

Always attend on time, suitably dressed, impressions are important.  Everyone gets nervous, the recruiters will expect that, however, if you have prepared as much as you can, this will help you settle.  The interviewers are looking to see if you are a good match for their requirements, do you have the right and relevant experience, can you do the job, would you bring benefit and add value to their business.  Do they see potential in you fitting into their culture and organization?

Be prepared to go into detail!

Be prepared to answer questions about the information you have provided, this may be in-depth questioning around a specific role or skill, this is to test out your knowledge and whether it is appropriate for their needs.   It will also test out whether you have over emphasised your involvement or abilities.  Be confident in talking about your current or past role, your experiences and what successes you have achieved and how you believe you can add value to their team and organisation. 

Demonstrate your interest, ask about the scope of the role, what is required and ultimately does the organisation offer progression opportunities to their people. The interviewer may explain what they enjoy about working there, if not ask what it is that people like, what is the culture like, do they offer in-house training. 

Lastly, one thing to never do!

Even when things have not gone well in the past never bad mouth a past employer, or your current company.  Be positive, usually, an interviewer will explain an organizations employee benefits and remuneration, our general advice is don’t ask about money, if they are interested and make an offer, that is something that can be discussed at a later stage.  

Go prepared, be positive and enjoy the experience.  

Spotlight Session – Female Tech Focus

Barlow Search attended the ‘Reframe – Women in Tech’ event this week, an event that brought together a community of like-minded technology experts and future tech talent to ‘reframe’ the narrative around women in technology through positive action. Attendees heard positive journeys from leaders in the field, celebrate successes, and access practical tools and advice. It is designed to empower women in technology to develop, succeed and inspire others. With too many superb speakers and presents to name, the event energized and inspired attendees to aim high and pave a legacy path for the next generation of females. Stacey Copeland ended the event highlighting her outstanding sporting success and left the audience in awe of her passion and drive to succeed, continually fighting for equal treatment for females.

To follow on from this fabulous event, we wanted to highlight three females (although we could have an endless list!) within the Technology industry that we think should be recognized for their success, or are the future tech stars and ones to watch. Not only are they leaders in their fields, but they also trail-blaze the success of women in technology, supporting other women to do the same.

Sarah Burnett Sarah is an Executive Vice President and Distinguished Analyst at Everest Group. She set up and developed a program, that focuses on process automation based on Artificial Intelligence and robotic process automation. Sarah has helped many technology companies successfully formulate their product innovation and go to market strategies for growth. She also advises enterprise clients on automation technologies, sourcing, competitive strategies and market trends and their commercial significance.
Sarah’s other accolades include:
• Named one of 50 most influential women in UK IT by Computer Weekly from 2016 to 2019
• Digital Leaders’ Champion for the UK South East in 2017
• Finalist in STEM leader of the year by Forward Ladies in 2019
• Shortlisted for AI leader of the year by Information Age in 2018

Carmina Lees: Managing Director, Accenture Financial Services Technology Consulting Lead. Carmina is the Accenture Financial Services Technology Advisory lead for the UK & Ireland, focusing on helping C-suite clients articulate, plan and implement transformational agendas.  Carmina has been an active supporter and ambassador for promoting the presence of women in IT since the start of her career. She is the Executive sponsor for Accenture Security Women’s Program across Europe and is driving the D&I agenda within Accenture and externally.

Vimla Appadoo @ThatGirlVim: As a Service Designer at DigitalBridge, Vimla brings her passion for Service Design and user-centered services to the forefront of tech innovation. At 21, Vim co-founded Experience Matters consultancy, winning the NHS CCG as her first client. Since, Vim has also founded Northern Collective: Women in Public Spaces, co-founded SheSaysMCR, managed DrinkaboutMCR, and managed Manchester Social Entrepreneurs. She has been an advisor to the Youth Charter, the Big Youth Group, and is a Regional Ambassador for the Holocaust Educational Trust.

Vimla has been an advisor on international government tech missions and a mentor for various startup programs as well as an international keynote speaker. In 2016, Vim was voted on to the Northern Power Future List, in 2018 won the Young Digital Leader of the Year award at Digital Leaders and in 2019 won the We Are The City Rising Star in the public sector and was voted as one of the Top 100 Asian Stars in UK Tech. Throughout her career, Vimla has remained conscious of her decisions and focus on bringing passion into her work, to make a continuous difference.

Remote Working: Are We Working In Isolation or at an Advantage?

Due to recent global events, remote working has been placed at the forefront of conversation and decision making for business leaders and employees across all sectors and industries.  Once considered a luxury, an opportunity to work in your pajamas, or an unsupervised paid period to ‘skive’ and watch TV, many are now realizing and understanding the true value of remote working, and the mutual benefits it can bring to both employer and employee. 

The global Coronavirus emergency has caused many to re-evaluate how and where work can be carried out. As a result of medical advice to self-isolate relating to Coronavirus, businesses and employees are adapting their usual office-based workday to ensure work tasks are completed, businesses are remaining profitable and productive, whilst minimizing health risks.  For many businesses, this unprecedented change in work practice has outlined that offering flexibility to employees CAN and DOES ensure productivity is maintained and it will hopefully be the start of a wider conversation about the future of how and where we work.

The Office for National Statistics suggested that in 2020, 50% of UK employees will be working remotely, with this figure set to rise as more business leaders understand and experience the benefits.  Perhaps Coronavirus will be the catalyst for a percentage increase?

The traditional daily commute to the office for many conjures up images of traffic jams, packed public transport, long delays, expensive travel/parking options. A study by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that on average, UK workers spent 59 minutes commuting each day. Almost an hour commuting!!  Removing, or significantly reducing the need for a daily commute surely can only be of benefit? Alongside the reduction in travel expenditure and frustrations associated with traveling to work, the reduction in environmental impact is equally as important if you consider the current climate crisis too.

Teamwork and collaboration are not to be disregarded or diminished in any way when considering the benefits of remote working. They can instead complement each other in creating a flexible and person-centered approach to employment. Isolation and loneliness can impact workers who solely work alone, and employers must be mindful of this when factoring in time working remotely, and time spent together as a team. Social interaction, supervision, feedback are essential elements of a successful team, in terms of both professional and individual wellbeing.  

Remote working should not be a means to ISOLATE, it should be an opportunity to INCORPORATE a great work/life balance. If working remotely cannot be offered as a full-time option, due to the nature of work or necessity for team/group work and meetings, the option for it to be offered flexibly is still a major step in the right direction for considering business productivity, alongside employee wellbeing.  The benefits of remote working as well as increased output due to lack of ‘office distraction’, with trust and accountability given by the employer are again to be championed and will surely lead to increased morale, output, and overall profitability. It’s a win-win for all!

5 Tips To Improve Your Productivity

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, many employees have found themselves trying to navigate the unfamiliar territory of working from home. Initially a crisis management strategy, remote working is fast becoming the new norm.

Benefits such as cutting your commute, increased flexibility in the working day, and access to a wider talent pool are causing organizations to question if this may become the workplace of the future, something we would positively advocate. As such, we thought now would be an excellent time to share our expertise and support the positive shift of permanent working from home.

We have been working remotely for quite some time and know that despite the many advantages, it can present a few challenges. Below are five simple tips for creating and sustaining a healthy, productive working environment from the comfort of your own home, we hope they help!

  1. Establish a routine
    Without a clear change of scenery indicating the end of the working day it is far harder to switch off, causing the line between your personal and working lives to become blurred. Establishing a daily routine provides the structure of a traditional working day. Productivity levels often decrease when we are confronted by the prospect of an open-ended working day. To combat this, plan to start and end your working day at the same time. The NHS also suggests scheduling regular breaks throughout the day, avoid eating your lunch in front of your laptop and consider a mid-morning coffee break to increase productivity.
  2. Structure your environment
    Remote working comes with an abundance of possible distractions. If you can, try to set up a designated workspace and encourage other people in the house to respect your boundaries whilst during working hours. Pick a calm corner of your home to work in, keep it organized and turn unnecessary notifications off.
  3. Utilize technology
    Developments in technology mean there are now digital tools to assist with nearly all aspects of remote working, take advantage of them! Video conferencing apps and content collaboration platforms simplify the processes of remote working whilst companies such as Microsoft are providing free software to companies in need. Organizing or participating in virtual social activities with your team will also help to facilitate interaction, boost morale, and curb feelings of isolation.
  4. Maintain communication
    The success of remote teams is largely dependent upon communication. Without clear lines of communication and access to necessary information productivity levels can easily drop. Creating consistent, open communication channels works to keep everyone in the loop and creates a space for collaborative action.
  5. Focus on your wellbeing
    When working remotely it is easy to feel isolated and overworked which in turn can take a toll on your mood and productivity. Make sure to prioritize your own mental wellbeing; forge out time throughout your day to look after yourself, get some fresh air and make time to catch up with family and friends. Even five minutes of meditation or stretching can help to refocus your mind.

Embracing change: Tech in hospitality and retail

As lockdown restrictions in the UK begin to ease, we are all wondering what a post-covid landscape may look like. Nearly all industries have been impacted by the pandemic and many have been forced to rapidly embrace change, devising innovative solutions to unprecedented challenges. Two of the most impacted customer-facing areas, retail, and hospitality, have found themselves struggling to meet customer requirements safely and efficiently.

Research by Deloitte indicates that the pandemic has accelerated the rollout of technology within organizations. Tech previously viewed as a bonus is now considered a serious source of competitive advantage. As non-essential
shops and services begin to open their doors, we thought it would be interesting to look at the key emerging technology trends.

Unsurprisingly, data from the Office of National Statistics show that online shopping has risen 33% throughout the pandemic. As shops reopen, high street retailers are creating innovative apps to reduce face-to-face interaction hopeful that this will boost footfall. Ikea’s smartphone app utilizes virtual reality technology, allowing customers to view furniture in their own homes before they visit the store. Similarly, Sainsbury’s is trialing a ‘virtual queuing system’, allowing customers to queue via a smartphone app from a remote location.

In a bid to meet customer requirements and comply with government guidelines many shops are integrating innovative checkout experiences. Research by GlobalData found 35% of consumers view in-store contactless services as a necessity and 48% want to order food in a restaurant using
their phone. This has lead to a surge in technology advancements, supermarkets are rapidly growing their Scan as you Go services and Amazon is about to launch a trial run of contactless high street stores.

Another key trend is the use of AI-powered chatbots. Chatbots can interact with consumers in real-time and provide 24/7 customer service, reducing the need for human interaction at times where dialogue is more important than ever. Research by GlobalData also shows that one-third of customers are comfortable interacting with robots. This highlights the potential of technology to minimize human interaction throughout the retail and hospitality sectors.

Reactions to the pandemic have demonstrated that adaptability and agility are crucial for businesses to survive. Technology has already played a vital role in allowing businesses to adapt to the new normal and this looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Why You Should Support Local Businesses

Monday the 11th August 2020 marked the start of the UK government’s Shop Local Week. As part of their Enjoy Summer Safely campaign they have launched this incentive to give the high street a much needed boost.

Often it is far easier for us to pop to our nearest supermarket or order online than it is to visit an independent retailer. Yet now more than ever local businesses are relying on our support.

Promisingly, a recent survey by YouGov found that 38% of Brits have started to shop locally during the COVID-19 pandemic and 70% expect to continue once lockdown eases. In case you need some convincing here are a few reasons you should support your local independent retailers.

  1. It supports your local economy
    Shopping locally is an excellent way to directly support your economy. Research from the Centre for Local Economic Strategies found that for every £1 spent at a local business 63p ends up back in the local economy compared to the only 5p spent at a larger retailer.
  2. It is more sustainable
    Your local butcher or greengrocer is far are more likely to have locally sourced, in-season produce. This will not only mean higher quality food but also reduces the carbon footprint of your shopping list as there are less travel and packaging involved.
  3. You can find unique items
    Independent retailers usually offer a diversity of products you wouldn’t be able to find at a large chain retailer. People are often surprised by the range of items available at local shops but if you’re unsure it’s always worth checking their website or giving them a call to ask a few questions beforehand.
  4. It bolsters the local job market
    The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that SMEs account for 60% of employment in the UK. Supporting local businesses also enables them to hire more local staff which then helps your surrounding community to grow.
  5. Personalized experience
    Smaller shops frequently have the time and freedom to provide higher levels of customer service. Staff are also knowledgeable, it is far more likely that the staff in your local butchers will be able to give expert advice you wouldn’t be able to find in a supermarket aisle. Some places even create loyalty schemes for returning customers, something to remember the next time you want a takeout coffee.

Remember, if you’re pressed for time check to see if any of your local businesses offer online delivery or click and collect options. And if you do shop locally consider tagging them on social media or leaving them a review. Helping to boost their online presence can often be as beneficial as the purchase itself.

5 Tips To a COVID-19 Career Change

The unprecedented global impact of COVID-19 has left many people wondering what the long term impact on the job market may be. Switching careers may seem daunting in the current climate, however, many companies are still hiring and the technology sector is predicted to be one of the strongest industries post-covid.

If you are considering a career change and wondering how to appropriately adjust your job search to the current situation keep reading.

  1. Define your needs
    While the current job market may seem overwhelming the application and interview process is easier from the comfort of your own home. The job market slowing down also makes this a great time to reflect on your career and reassess your long term goals. Where do you want to be in five years? What type of organization would you like to work for? Identify what you are most passionate about and use this as an opportunity to make a long term plan for the future.
  2. Networking
    Be proactive! One of the best tips is to grow your online network. Try to reach out to figures in relevant industries, or check-in with old bosses and colleagues who may have potential leads for you. Find relevant online groups and professional networks, not only will you find industry-specific advice but often there are jobs and events advertised. Better yet, optimize your online profile, make sure that all your information is up to date, and actively participate in the groups. This gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and helps you become more visible to recruiters.
  3. Diversify your skillset
    If you have found yourself with extra time on your hands try to develop your skills. There are plenty of online platforms and resources out there to improve or learn new skills, take advantage of them. Identify if there are any industry-specific requirements that may have changed due to the pandemic.
  4. Do your research
    In this changing job market research is vital! Investigate where the opportunities may be. Are there any industries actively hiring or looking for remote workers? Taking part in virtual events or following companies you admire on social media is also an excellent way to gain updated industry information and insight. Structure your job search and seek out specialist recruitment agencies that can assist you and help to navigate these emerging issues.
  5. Focus on yourself
    It is easy to feel overwhelmed when searching for a job and the pandemic has only exasperated feelings of anxiety. Make sure you are taking the time to focus on your mental well-being, don’t set yourself unachievable targets, and focus on the quality rather than the quantity of your applications. Prioritizing yourself will help you stay motivated during this period and help the process run smoothly. No one knows how long this uncertainty will last so try to focus on the things you can control when trying to reach your long-term goals.