Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Tech Sector

Employers who can demonstrate diversity, equity and inclusion have an advantage when hiring tech talent, says Eolas Recruitment.

“The perceived fairness of how a company treats its workforce—how inclusive it is and whether it values diversity—can be the deciding factor when candidates are choosing between potential employers,” says Eolas Recruitment Senior Technical Consultant Nicola Byrne.

“In the tech sector, where shortage of skilled candidates can hold back a company’s ability to develop and grow, employers with a well thought out DEI strategy that is reflected in their job descriptions and adverts can differentiate themselves from their competitors. That’s a big advantage in the current market,” says Nicola.

So, what is DEI?

Diversity is about recognising difference and acknowledging the benefit of having a range of perspectives in an organisation. While some differences are visible (like gender, race or disability), many others (like autism, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation) are invisible.

Equity is about fairness in procedures, policies and resource allocation. The objective is to ensure that everyone is treated the same and has access to the same resources and opportunities.

Inclusion is about enabling everyone in the organisation to contribute and thrive.

DEI in action

In the last few years, with evidence emerging that DEI can improve a company’s performance, stimulate innovation and make it easier to attract and retain talent, it’s not surprising that companies are setting goals and seeking to enhance their reputation in this area.

Leading tech industry players like Google, Apple, Meta and Microsoft all publish details of their progress towards achieving DEI goals while organisations like CIPD provide resources to promote and support DEI in the workplace.

DEI barriers

Yet despite increased investment, a lack of role models, particularly at leadership level, is one of the key barriers to achieving DEI goals.

Eolas Recruitment Principal Consultant Stephen Daly, cites Ireland’s gender gap in tech as an example of an area where faster progress is needed. Only around 30% of ICT workers in Ireland are female according to CSO statistics for the first quarter of 2022.

Says Stephen, “The question of how to attract more women into the tech sector has been around for decades. We really need to be taking action much earlier if we are ever going to get to grips with this. In education, for example we need to improve teachers’ understanding of tech related careers. But at a broader level, tackling diversity is about much more than just addressing the gender gap. It’s also about things like addressing bias in hiring, people management, workplace processes, even algorithms. We’re starting to see greater awareness, particularly in larger organisations and growth-focused companies, that failing to do this potentially excludes a significant talent pool—something employers don’t want to do in a sector where there is fierce competition for candidates.”


Another trend that employers need to take into account is candidates’ desire to contribute to society and the greater good. This is particularly strong among early- and mid-career candidates, says Stephen.

“Generation Z and millennials are highly mission-driven. They want to understand the significance of their role, what they will accomplish and why it matters. Companies with a strong mission who can provide clear answers to these questions have an advantage and are more likely to find that employees stay with them for a longer time. So, this is another trend we advise employers to keep in mind when planning and developing career paths and hiring strategies.”

Does my workforce look like me?

As in most spheres of life, there can be a difference between what organisations say they do and what they actually do in practice.

“You might think your company embraces diversity, but asking, ‘Does my workforce look like me?’ can be a revealing question,” says Nicola.

“If the answer is ‘yes’, you probably have scope to improve your DEI.”

How to improve DEI

Promoting DEI is not a once-off initiative. It is an ongoing process and progress needs to be tracked. The first step is to secure management and board level buy-in as without this, success is unlikely.

Typically, enhancing DEI involves identifying gaps in your organisation and checking for biases in your people management processes, including hiring policies.

Once you have developed a strategy, practical actions to support it include investing in training for management, team leaders and staff.

Impact on recruitment

From a recruitment perspective, addressing DEI typically involves widening the talent pool, looking for opportunities to accommodate flexible working and reviewing job descriptions and job adverts to check for bias. In addition, companies who provide opportunities for interns may need to review their internship policy.

As always, if you are a company seeking to source candidates for IT roles, Eolas Recruitment would like to assist you. With more than 20 years’ experience in the IT sector, we understand what you are looking for and have the resources to manage every stage of your hiring process, from identifying candidates to screening applicants, arranging interviews and negotiating contracts. Now is the time to anticipate and plan for future needs bearing in mind that in a tight labour market, focusing on DEI can improve your talent pipeline.

Likewise, if you are a tech worker looking for opportunities to advance your career, please register with Eolas Recruitment so that we can alert you to relevant roles. We also recommend keeping an eye on our job listings. You can find out more about how we work with candidates by viewing our informational videos and reading our online reviews.

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How to prepare for an online interview – tips for candidates

Good preparation and practising how to look professional when using video conferencing apps can help you succeed in an online interview.

During the pandemic remote interviewing became a necessity for hiring. It is now a trend that is gaining further traction as businesses continue to downsize office space and take advantage of their employees working remotely. Here are some tips to help you prepare for an online interview.

How to prepare for your interview

As for any other interview, preparation for an online interview is vital. Make sure that you read the job specification carefully and understand what the advertised role involves. Study your CV and try to anticipate questions you may be asked about your background and experience.

Research the company focusing in particular on learning how the business works. Read up on the trends that are affecting the industry and remember to prepare answers for commonly-asked questions such as:

  • What do you know about our business?
  • What impressions have you formed of our industry?
  • What attracts you to this role?
  • How did you prepare for this interview?

Many interviews for IT roles include competency-based questions. These are probing questions where you are asked to refer to examples from your past experience. You might be asked to talk about a time when you had to deal with a particular problem, or to describe a situation where your skills contributed to the outcome of a team task, or to give an example of a time when you had to work to a tight deadline or manage multiple projects, explaining how you prioritised and managed your time. You can read more about competency based interviews elsewhere on our website.

Another line of questioning that is common in interviews for IT roles relates to how you keep up with technology developments. Being able to demonstrate commitment to lifelong learning comes across well so it is worth thinking about this in advance and having some examples that you can call on if needed. Courses you may have undertaken and certifications that you have achieved are particularly relevant for this type of question.

Often, at the end of an interview, you will be asked if you have any questions you would like to ask the panel. This is sometimes a danger point for candidates. Asking about salary, benefits or conditions of employment can make it look like you are more interested in the perks than in the job itself. You don’t want to leave a bad impression. This article shares some tips on how to avoid sabotaging your job interview.

Setting up your environment

For an online interview, it is important to set up and test your environment in advance. Make sure you know what technology will be used and familiarise yourself with how it works. Whether it’s Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp or some other app, practice in advance, paying attention to how you look onscreen and what is visible in the background of the space where you intend to be when the interview takes place is vital.

If possible, use your laptop rather than your phone as this will give you a better view of the interview panel’s reaction to your answers.  Make sure that you have a good Internet connection. If you have to use your phone for the interview, make sure you have a strong signal.

Dressing appropriately and paying attention to your body language are also important for an online interview. When testing your environment and technology set-up and checking how you look onscreen, practice looking composed. This will help you to remain calm. Maintain eye contact with the camera and, above all, avoid fidgeting! An interviewer will be able to see if you are not listening or if you allow yourself to be distracted by notifications on your screen or social media.

Second interviews

Keep a note of the questions you are asked as you may need to refer back to your notes if you are called for a second interview. If you are applying for a senior role, it is fairly common to be asked to deliver a presentation at a second interview. Elsewhere on our website, you will find some advice on how to prepare for an interview presentation. Thorough preparation, plenty of practice and confident, clear delivery are essential.

Keep in touch with your recruiter

Eolas Recruitment’s services include helping you identify your strengths, prepare your CV and present yourself in the best possible light to potential employers. For more information, check out our informational videos and online reviews or contact a member of our team who will be able to provide useful information and tips for your interview. We can also give you feedback on your interview performance which can be very valuable for future interviews.

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Cyber Risks of Working from Home

For many companies who transitioned at speed to remote working, the experience has highlighted the need to strengthen IT security resources.
Overall awareness of cybercrime is increasing and more companies need help to manage the additional risks that working from home has introduced.

It is certainly the case that working from home has introduced more risk. Companies are highly aware that data breaches and cybercrime incidents can be hugely damaging if they are not correctly managed. We’re seeing larger companies carrying out cybersecurity risk assessments, vulnerability audits, testing exercises and so on. But even the biggest organisations can find monitoring remote work from a cybersecurity perspective difficult, particularly where there is a risk of employees using personal mobile phones or laptops, firewalls that haven’t been properly configured, vulnerable WiFi setups or unpatched systems or software versions. A lot of companies are looking to strengthen IT capability at the moment either by recruiting or by bringing in IT contractors to work on specific projects.

‘The Dirty Dozen’

Common security risks of working from home

1. Phishing
2. Weak/shared passwords
3. Unsecured WiFi networks
4. Outdated firewall software
5. Configuration errors
6. Personal devices
7. Unencrypted file sharing
8. Lack of cybersecurity training
9. Device and/or data loss/theft
10. Video conferencing vulnerabilities
11. Supply chain vulnerabilities e.g. security weaknesses of business partners/suppliers
12. Opportunistic crime eg where employees use company devices in public places

Cybercrime threats

At national level, a 2020 Department of Justice cybercrime report identifies the most significant current cybercrime threats as:

• ransomware and other malware threats,
• data breaches and network attacks,
• spear phishing (targeting specific individuals for the purposes of distributing malware or extracting sensitive information, and
• attacks against critical infrastructure.

In terms of risks to business, PwC’s 2020 Irish Economic Crime Survey highlights that when asked whether their organisation has experienced any form of fraud, corruption, cybercrime or other economic crime within the past 24 months, 51% of Irish respondents said, ‘yes’.

“We have identified criminal and state-sponsored campaigns exploiting the COVID-19 crisis. We also expect that cyber criminals will use VPN and video conferencing software lures to take advantage of users’ unfamiliarity with remote working,” PwC says.

Elsewhere, Deloitte recently highlighted that, “cyber criminals attempting to access corporate data, customer information and intellectual property are not the only threat to businesses—employees can also be a weak link in corporate IT security systems.”

Fighting cybercrime

Upgrading hardware and systems and raising employee awareness through regular training and communication are key tools in the fight against cybercrime but require investment and can put pressure on already stretched IT teams. Companies also need to be aware of potential weaknesses in their supply chain. Managing all of this is difficult at the best of times and even more challenging when people are working from home.

From a cybersecurity point of view, some of the most common risks associated with remote working include insecure Wi/Fi and firewalls, phishing and spear phishing.

Impact of new technologies

A related trend contributing to the current demand for IT professionals is that advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation—which can enhance operational efficiency when successfully implemented—are also enabling cyber attackers to collaborate and carry out more attacks in a shorter space of time. Previously on this website, we looked at how ransomware attacks and developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning require resources in terms of technology as well as people

“Companies need to build in cybersecurity measures from the outset when designing systems and embed a security culture to protect against cybercrime,” says Eolas Recruitment Technical Manager Peter Kirby.

“That often requires additional resources because IT teams find it hard to balance ongoing maintenance, supporting users and meeting day-to-day business demands with the need to keep up with and defend against emerging cybercrime threats.”
Experience and skills

Asked about the type of experience that employers are looking for when hiring for cybersecurity roles, Peter says that senior roles typically require experienced candidates with deep knowledge of emerging threats who can review security, identify gaps and recommend changes.

“This means having highly advanced knowledge in areas like technical IT domains, operating systems, networks, databases, mobile and cloud.”

In terms of educational qualifications, degrees in information technology, cyber or cloud security or software engineering are an advantage while sought after technical skills include knowledge of web development and application security, Azure, AWS and certifications like CISSP, CISM or SANS, adds Peter.

A strong commitment to personal development is also important, says Eolas Recruitment Principal Consultant Stephen Daly who advises that candidates should keep their skills up to date and make sure that their CV includes any post-qualification certifications they have acquired.

“Good interpersonal and communication skills is also important as most senior roles involve managing relationships with senior management and business partners as well as with the company’s internal teams. Leadership and presentation skills, for example, are among the most highly sought-after non-technical skills,” adds Stephen.

Global demand for cybersecurity professionals

Ireland is not unusual in experiencing strong demand for cybersecurity workers. CSO Online recently reported that 40% of IT leaders say cybersecurity jobs are the most difficult to fill, making cybersecurity “a lucrative job field” for IT workers with relevant skills. We are always happy to chat and our website is always the best place to start your search, its constantly updated with super opportunities.

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Will AI replace the specialist recruiter?

Despite the hype, the artificial intelligence tools used in recruitment are often clunky. Our Principal Consultant Stephen Daly discusses AI and if they really can replace the specialist recruiter.

The chances are if you applied for a job online in the last few years, you may have encountered artificial intelligence tools. Typically, these tools aim to do things like speed up the process of reviewing applications, particularly where there are high volumes of applications for certain types of roles. You may have come across game-based candidate assessments or had your speech and behaviour patterns analysed in a video interview. But how effective are these tools, and will they eventually replace specialist recruiters?

Conversational AI in recruitment

One of the most common AI tools currently in use is conversational AI or chatbots. This tries to communicate like a human by recognising text or speech and responding appropriately. In the hiring process, it can be used for certain types of administrative tasks such as scheduling interviews or filtering out candidates who don’t meet the criteria for the role in question. Where it may be less successful is when it is used to try to build a relationship with candidates, for example by answering candidates’ questions.

“As anyone who has tried to have a meaningful conversation with a chatbot will tell you, more often than not it’s a frustrating experience. Unless the chatbot directs your enquiry to a human who can answer your questions, chances are that it will damage your impression of a company,” says Eolas Recruitment’s Principal Consultant Stephen Daly.

Bias when using AI in the hiring process

Another problem with using artificial intelligence in recruitment is the fact that AI is not immune from bias. This can have potentially serious repercussions for candidates and employers, says Stephen.

A CNBC story, which explains how AI cannot remove risks of bias in the hiring process, quotes Meredith Whittaker, co-founder of the AI Now Institute at New York University, and founder of Google’s Open Research group, who said:

“In the case of systems meant to automate candidate search and hiring, we need to ask ourselves: What assumptions about worth, ability and potential do these systems reflect and reproduce? Who was at the table when these assumptions were encoded?”

“The bias problem in AI isn’t unique in the IT sector, it’s a universal concern,” says Stephen.

At the time of writing, a quick Google search on “artificial intelligence bias” which returned 62,200,000 results in less than a minute suggests he’s right!

Legal and ethical issues

Legal and ethical issues are another concern when it comes to using artificial intelligence in recruitment.

“Candidates can lose out on career opportunities while employers can be sued if there is evidence that their hiring process discriminated against candidates on grounds like gender or race,” explains Stephen.

There are also concerns about privacy, says Stephen, citing a recent HBR article which discusses these concerns.

In the article, authors Ben Dattner, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Richard Buchband, and Lucinda Schettle, point out that AI tools put “unprecedented power in the hands of organisations to pursue data-based human capital decisions”.

“Many of these tools have emerged as technological innovations, rather than from scientifically derived methods or research programs. As a result, it is not always clear what they assess, whether their underlying hypotheses are valid, or why they may be expected to predict job candidates’ performance,” the HBR article authors add.

In January 2021, PredictiveHire, an Australian technology company that has pioneered transparent AI-assisted hiring solutions, announced the global release of a framework to educate HR executives in assessing AI technology for use in their organisations. The framework aims “to begin conversations around transparency in HR technology against an explosion of AI solutions in the sector,” according to their press release.

“The absence of any form of accreditation of vendors, and the fact that regulation is light years behind tech innovation, has meant a lack of collaboration among vendors to champion AI ethics in the sector, something PredictiveHire hopes to help change,” the press release stated.

Will AI replace recruiters?

While there are clearly opportunities for technologies like AI and predictive analytics to enhance the hiring process for some types of roles, it seems unlikely that advanced technologies will replace specialist recruiters any time soon in sectors where there is strong demand for scarce technical skills.

Even at entry level, where the hiring process often begins at graduate events, candidates value the insights of recruiters. Research by the UK Institute of Student Employers found that jobseekers want to understand how the recruitment process works, what it is like to work in an organisation and what opportunities will open up for them over time.

“Recruitment is about two people developing an understanding of each other’s ambition and requirements. Trying to get a computer to do this in any kind of meaningful way is still science fiction,” says Stephen.

“It’s literally light years away.”

Building relationships

With a track record supporting companies and placing candidates in IT roles for more than 20 years, the Eolas Recruitment team have helped a lot of people move from entry level roles right up to management team level.

“What we’ve learned from that is that we have become really good at listening to candidates and understanding their career development plans so we are able to steer them to the right opportunities at the right time,” says Stephen.

“That’s something AI really can’t match. Many of the AI tools currently used in the hiring process are clunky and dysfunctional and more likely to put applicants off a company than get them excited about a future with a prospective employer. AI will never replace human interaction.”

Specialist recruiters

As candidates progress their career, building a sound relationship with a specialist IT recruiter is key, particularly when moving into senior roles.

“The best recruiters need to be good relationship builders and managers,” says Eolas Recruitment Managing Director Vincent Flynn, who is proud of the fact that Eolas Recruitment’s senior recruiters Peter Kirby and Stephen Daly have been working with him since he started the business in 2000.

“They are fantastic professionals who have a deep understanding and knowledge of the IT sector. Their experience and expertise are what makes us stand out from our competitors. It’s a huge advantage having such a mature team in place.”

For candidates, the benefit of working with a specialist recruiter like Eolas Recruitment is that they have a finger on the pulse of the IT sector.

“We often know about upcoming opportunities before they are advertised because of the relationships that we have built up with our client companies over time. Then there is the practical support we provide to help candidates tailor their applications whether that’s updating their Tech CV or preparing for an interview presentation. We also assist with salary and benefits negotiation and we provide feedback to unsuccessful candidates to help them prepare for the next opportunity that comes along. Companies and candidates really value these services and the support that they get from our team. You can see that reflected in the online reviews of Eolas Recruitment,” says Stephen.

To keep abreast of current opportunities in the IT sector, bookmark the Eolas Recruitment home page and check out our videos to learn more about how we work with companies and candidates. As always, our recruiters would be pleased to hear from you if you have questions about specific opportunities or are seeking to source candidates for IT roles. Contact us for details.

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Web 3.0 — The Next Big Thing?

Web3, one of the hottest tech trends this year, is generating plenty of controversy, says EOLAS RECRUITMENT.

What exactly is Web3?

It was Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood who came up with the term ‘Web3’ in 2014, using it to describe a decentralised digital economy where peer-to-peer interactions are verified via blockchain technology. Enthusiasts believe this will be the next big thing but sceptics share Elon Musk’s view that Web3 is more “marketing buzzword than reality right now”.

Whichever side of the debate you are on, one thing that’s clear is that significant capital is currently going into the Web3 ecosystem. According to a recent Forbes report, globally $30bn+ of venture capital was invested in crypto start-ups last year. Meanwhile big players are also getting involved—Google’s parent, Alphabet, is said to be looking at blockchain while Facebook’s parent Meta is reportedly aiming for deep compatibility with Web3.

So, what’s the background to all this activity?

Blockchain and Web3

More than a decade has passed since Satoshi Nakamoto implemented the first blockchain enabling bitcoin to be sent peer-to-peer without having to go through a third party intermediary like a central bank.

Since then, the best-known uses of blockchain are trading cryptocurrency, decentralised finance, and, more recently, buying Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). However, developers have explored a plethora of potential use cases ranging from secure sharing of medical data to supply chain management and regulatory reporting. Already gaming and virtual worlds are using blockchain-based digital assets. If Web3 gains traction, it could mean that in future many day-to-day interactions and transactions will be conducted via the blockchain.

Web3 Pros and Cons

Web3 advocates claim that this decentralisation will shift control of user-generated data away from big tech players like Google, Facebook and Amazon and give users back ownership of their own information—an attractive idea at a time when people are increasingly aware of the value of personal data. Take the decentralisation idea a bit further and it might even involve reorganising society (for example, replacing regulators with technology-based solutions).

However, sceptics argue that while servers may be able to operate peer-to-peer, an intermediary will most likely still be required for an individual user to participate on Web3 from their mobile device or browser. So, it’s perhaps debatable how ‘decentralised’ Web3 will really be. Sceptics also raise privacy concerns and suggest that scaling in a distributed, decentralised digital economy may be technically difficult and costly.

The bottom line?

While it’s difficult to predict how Web3 will evolve in the medium to longer term, it’s clear that meaningful progress will involve a lot of hard graft by tech workers.

For consumers, the next generation Internet might not feel very different from Web2 but for enterprises and developers, building the infrastructure and decentralised apps (dApps) to support a Web3 economy will be a major challenge.

Regardless of what the future holds, one thing we can be certain about is that there will be ongoing demand for tech skills, particularly developers and tech workers with experience in areas like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and blockchain.

As always, if you are planning to recruit IT workers, the best way to source talent is to work with a specialist IT recruiter. Eolas Recruitment can manage every stage of your hiring process, from identifying candidates to screening applicants, arranging interviews and contract negotiation. Likewise, if you’re looking to advance your career in IT, our team has strong relationships with employers and will work closely with you to identify and secure a suitable role. Check out our videos and online reviews for further information on how we work with companies and candidates.

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Pros and Cons of Contracting for IT workers

Ireland’s thriving tech sector provides plenty of permanent and contract opportunities. With no shortage of roles to choose from for good candidates, it is not unusual to have to weigh up the pros and cons of contracting, particularly when moving from entry-level roles and/or seeking career advancement.

Our experience is that while some individuals have a definite preference for the security and benefits afforded by good permanent roles, others value the flexibility and independence that contracting can provide.

This short article summarises some key contracting pros and cons to help you decide if being your own boss could be the right next move for you.

Pros of Contracting

  • By working for different organisations, contractors benefit from a variety of experience. This tends to broaden their perspective and can help them have a more balanced view because they are less likely to be swayed by office politics.
  • Working for a variety of organisations and on a variety of projects helps contractors acquire new skills. Indeed, contracting can sometimes deliver the opportunity to work with emerging and cutting-edge technologies. This experience enhances the contractor’s skillset which in turn can open further opportunities.
  • Contracting is an excellent way to build a professional network which can benefit a candidate’s future career whether they remain self-employed and/or decide to seek a permanent role.
  • Contracting can enhance an individual’s earning potential however it’s important to keep in mind the need to budget for gaps between contracts.
  • Working for a variety of organisations and gaining experience with different teams helps build confidence and can enhance soft skills like communication.
  • Independence. For individuals interested in starting their own business, contracting can be a good route to self-employment.

Cons of Contracting

  • For some individuals, the security of a permanent role provides peace of mind. Loss of this security is a definite con for some workers.
  • Perks. Contractors miss out on the non-pay benefits often associated with permanent roles such as staff pension schemes, private health insurance.
  • Holidays/Sick Pay. Contractors can also miss out on holiday/sick pay benefits.
  • Usually, while employers will invest in training for permanent employees, they tend not to provide training for external contractors.
  • Isolation. Working as a contractor can be lonely in some organisations, depending on the culture and circumstances that gave rise to the contracting role.
  • Pay gaps. While contracting is generally well paid for IT workers, there may be gaps between contracts. Contractors need to budget for these potential unpaid periods.
  • Professional services. Generally, it is advisable when self-employed to engage an accountant to manage your tax affairs. While there is a cost associated with this, accountancy fees can be claimed as a business expense when you run your own business.

What’s the bottom line?

Really, it comes down to individual preferences and circumstances. Contracting can be a good choice if you value your independence, want a particular type of lifestyle, and have the confidence to be self-employed. Short-term contracting can also help you acquire new skills that will enhance your ability to secure a permanent role in future.

If you decide to give contracting a go, Eolas Recruitment can help you find suitable roles. As a specialist recruiter in this sector, we have an extensive network of contacts and know not just where the current openings are but where openings may be coming up. To find out more, contact us for an informal chat or check out some current opportunities here.

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How to set yourself up as an IT contractor in Ireland

Contractors are being hired across a range of functions from e-commerce and cybersecurity to development.

In a recent article on this blog Eolas Recruitment Managing Director Vincent Flynn explained how employers are increasingly turning to IT contractors for help in adapting to the rapid changes that are happening in almost every sector of the economy at present.

Contract roles involve things like assisting with AWS cloud projects, configuring Dynamics CRM, implementing test scenarios, and developing, supporting and optimising various IT solutions. However, while there are plenty of contracting opportunities — particularly for Software Developers, DevOps Engineers, Project Managers and Customer Support Engineers— IT professionals often wonder if they are suited to working independently and, if so, how they should go about setting themselves up as an IT contractor.

How do you know if you are suited to becoming an IT contractor?

Previously on this blog, discussed the pros and cons of IT contracting. If you like to be managed or mentored or if you worry about job security then contracting is probably not for you. However, if you are self-reliant, confident, enjoy focusing on your work and like to get projects done, the chances are you will thrive as an independent contractor.

What skills do you need for IT contracting?

It goes without saying that you need good technical skills in the area you plan to focus on and it is important to keep your skills up to date.

You also need to be well-organised, good at analysing problems and coming up with solutions.

Depending on the contracts you get, you may be working alone or with other people. Either way, confidence and good communication skills— including written communication and presentation skills — are an advantage.

Contractors sometimes need to work long hours and there can be travel involved on some assignments which can be disruptive to home life so these are other factors to take into account when deciding if you want to become a contractor.

Advantages of being an IT contractor

If you have always wanted to work for yourself, contracting can be a great way to have a rewarding career in IT. The advantages include:

  • Freedom to move between companies and variety in the work that you do.
  • Flexibility to organise your schedule and control your time.
  • Ability to take a break between contracts
  • Good rates of pay particularly for skills that are in high demand.

If you are at an early stage in your career, contracting is also a good way to gain experience that can help you secure a permanent role.

How to set yourself up as an IT contractor

If you decide to set yourself up as an IT contractor, it’s important to get your business structure right from the outset. You will need to decide whether you want to set up a limited company or join an umbrella company which acts as an employer for contractors.

If you decide to set up a limited company, you will need to register the company, open a business bank account, organise insurance, and get your tax in order. Usually, it’s a good idea to engage an accountant to help with this.

Many IT contractors join umbrella companies rather than forming their own limited company. Eolas Recruitment can help you arrange this as we work with a number of specialist umbrella companies.

Update your CV

As well as organising your business structure, you also need to think about how you will present yourself to potential clients. It’s a good idea to maintain a portfolio of your work. You should also review and update your CV. For tips on CV preparation, check out our recent article, ‘Your Tech CV’.

How to find IT contracting roles

A good way to find contracting opportunities is to register with a specialist agency like Eolas Recruitment who can keep you informed about upcoming contracts that match your skills and experience. You can get a feel for current opportunities by checking out the latest contract listings on our website. Contracting is a great way to have a varied and interesting career in IT. If you are interested in becoming an IT contractor and would like more information, please get in touch.

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Will companies retreat from hybrid working?

The Taoiseach’s announcement that almost all COVID-19 public health restrictions have been lifted could mean a rapid return to the office for some workers, says EOLAS RECRUITMENT. But might it also spell the end for hybrid working and what would that mean for employers and their teams?

Currently, when IT roles are advertised, it is not unusual for employers to specify that the role will involve working remotely initially with a view to transitioning to a hybrid arrangement at a later date. This reflects a trend where hybrid working—a mix of being partly office-based and partly working from home — has become prevalent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while early indicators suggested that hybrid working could improve productivity, reports are beginning to emerge that suggest those initial gains may prove to be short-lived.

Productivity of hybrid workers

One reason why productivity appeared to increase in some organisations early in the pandemic may be that employees working from home were putting in longer hours. When this additional time is taken into account, the productivity ‘gains’ diminish.

A study by academics from the University of Essex and University of Chicago examined personnel and analytics data from over 10,000 skilled professionals at a large Asian IT company. Their findings show that total hours worked increased by roughly 30% during the ‘work from home’ period caused by the pandemic— including an 18% rise in out of hours working—however average output did not significantly change.


PwC survey commissioned in September 2021, which explored the views of 3,937 business and HR leaders from 26 countries, found that while remote and hybrid working “provided a short-term productivity boost in most workplaces”, the gains “may have come at the expense of longer term employee trust“—“In fact, only 30% of the business and HR leaders surveyed strongly believe their organisation is building high levels of trust between workers and their direct supervisors,” PwC reported, adding that burnout may be partially responsible.

Employee burnout

Burnout is also mentioned in a recent Forbes article where Tracy Brower notes that many reports of increased productivity among employees working from home came early in the pandemic, but more recent reports suggest people are “tired, fed up and burned out” —“If their productivity was high at first, it has declined as the pandemic has worn on …”.

Hybrid working resources

Up to now, employers favouring hybrid arrangements tended to cite benefits like greater flexibility and resilience, little impact on overall productivity, and enhanced access to talent that might otherwise be out of reach. However, it is becoming clear that benefits like these can only be realised when companies commit to the necessary cultural changes and allocate sufficient resources to successfully manage mixed work environments.


When asked what employers need to do if they are thinking about introducing hybrid working arrangements or extending temporary arrangements introduced during the pandemic, Eolas Recruitment Principal Consultant Stephen Daly says careful planning is essential.

“From a hiring perspective, it’s important to understand the difference between hybrid and remote working. Hybrid working, where you want your workers to be office-based at least some of the time, means that you still have to compete for talent in your local market so there isn’t any strong advantage in terms of access to a wider talent pool. However, remote working means you can hire from anywhere—that can be beneficial for some roles but it’s not without challenges,” says Stephen.

“Regardless of where employees are physically located, their individual goals should align with your organisation’s overall goals. It’s important to identify which roles are suitable for hybrid working and which need to be office-based. Then you can assess what resources are required for these roles. You have to be careful to avoid treating hybrid and remote workers less equitably than their office-based peers as you could run into HR and legal difficulties if workers feel they are being unfairly treated. You also need to take employee attitudes into account and think about any policy or cultural changes that may need to be implemented.”

Employee attitudes

From a people management perspective, it’s important to monitor employee expectations and keep a finger on the pulse of what is happening in the market. For anyone employing IT workers, the best way to do that is to have a good relationship with a specialist IT recruiter, says Eolas Recruitment Senior Consultant Peter Kirby.

“While some workers enjoy the better work/life balance of reduced commuting time and the flexibility that comes with working from home, others feel isolated and miss meeting and mixing with colleagues.

“Younger employees, and those that lack adequate space to work comfortably from home, often prefer to be office based where it is easier to collaborate and socialise among teams and with peers. There is also evidence emerging that innovation is stronger when teams are office-based.

“New employees, who started work during the COVID-19 restrictions and had to work from their bedroom or from shared accommodation, have sometimes felt lonely and isolated and found it difficult to get to know their colleagues. When you’re new in a job, it’s harder to learn when you are on your own and you are often more reluctant to interrupt a colleague and ask for help. More experienced employees often feel they have better promotion prospects when they are visible to their managers,” says Peter.

“Hungry for employees to be back in the office”

While it’s probably too early to judge the future prospects for hybrid working, there are signs that attitudes are shifting. Initial enthusiasm may be waning and some companies appear to be turning away from the trend, albeit while retaining some elements of flexible working. When a proper cost/benefit analysis is performed, SMEs and smaller businesses, in particular, may struggle to make a viable business case.

A survey, conducted by McKinsey in May 2021 found that while most employees like to work from home for 2 or more days per week, employers “are hungry for employees to be back in the office and for a new normal that’s somewhat more flexible but not dramatically different from the one we left behind.”

For now, keep in mind if you are planning to recruit IT workers, the best way to source talent in a competitive market is to work with a specialist IT recruiter. Eolas Recruitment is ideally placed to manage every stage of your hiring process, from identifying candidates to screening applicants, arranging interviews and contract negotiation. Check out our informational videos and online reviews for information about how we work with companies.

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Recruitment in the Metaverse

Demand for IT workers will intensify this year as businesses get ready to compete in the metaverse, predicts Eolas Recruitment.

Eolas Recruitment Managing Director Vincent Flynn says Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Extended Reality (XR) skills are in strong demand as companies prepare to establish themselves in emerging virtual worlds like Decentraland and The Sandbox where people work, play and interact with brands in realtime.

From education and health to the workplace, the so-called ‘metaverse’ is increasingly encroaching on interactions that previously required physical space. And it’s not just the major tech players like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Google who are focusing on virtual reality:

“In recruitment, companies already use virtual scenarios for candidate assessment (eg to test problem-solving skills in a game-like environment) and to create virtual worlds at recruitment fairs. We’re also seeing employers begin to use virtual environments for induction, training, collaboration and to facilitate social interaction among teams, particularly teams that are socially distanced or working remotely,” says Vincent.

Immersive experiences

In the metaverse, people can work, play, collaborate, learn, attend virtual events, visit virtual stores, chat to virtual sales assistants and purchase physical and digital goods in realtime. The concept echoes some of the aspirations that were around when Second Life launched back in 2003 but technologies have advanced in the meantime.

What is driving business interest in the metaverse?

Eolas Recruitment Technical Manager Peter Kirby says two factors currently accelerating business interest in the metaverse are the COVID-19 pandemic and Facebook’s recent rebrand as ‘Meta’.

“Firstly, Covid-19 has had a really profound impact on work practices and processes in many organisations. When working from home went mainstream it highlighted the limitations of existing communications technologies. The remote working experience can be lonely and isolating, particularly for new employees. It’s not easy to build meaningful relationships through email or on Skype or Zoom. More than ever before, employees are rethinking what they want in terms of work life balance. That’s contributed to the so-called ‘great resignation’ and it’s a challenge for employers, particularly in competitive sectors like IT. The metaverse can provide a way for businesses to enhance employees’ experiences. That’s important when it comes to recruitment and retention,” says Peter.

The second factor that really stimulated interest in the metaverse was Facebook rebranding as Meta and Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse as a successor to the mobile internet.

“The Meta announcement really caught attention. It prompted brands to consider how they are going to compete in emerging virtual worlds and to plan where and how to establish their presence. You only have to look at this year’s CES where everyone is talking about the metaverse to see the potential — it’s really beginning to capture people’s imagination,” says Peter.

Building the metaverse

Companies like Reality Labs Research in Cork, who are helping to develop the metaverse, say that by “creating a greater sense of ‘virtual presence’ interacting online can become much closer to the experience of interacting in person.”

Already, brands are purchasing virtual real estate. Plots on popular platforms like Decentraland can sell for thousands of dollars. However, while the potential of the metaverse appears limitless, skills will be needed to build the infrastructure to support it.

Opportunities for IT workers

Creativity is a ‘must have’ for brands developing immersive experiences. Currently there is very strong competition for tech talent. Programmers, engineers, games developers, experience designers, artists and people with cryptocurrency skills are all in demand, according to Eolas Recruitment Principal Consultant Stephen Daly.

“For IT workers interested in these opportunities, a good starting point is to check out Eolas Recruitment’s online Job Search. As a specialist in the IT sector, we have strong relationships with employers and can alert you to upcoming roles that match your skills and experience. This is a free service for candidates.”

Impact on people management

For employers, the metaverse will transform functions like hiring, onboarding, induction, training and people management, says Eolas Recruitment Senior Recruiter Nicola Byrne.

“While businesses will need to invest to participate on the emerging platforms, there will also be cost savings because virtual worlds will potentially eliminate travel costs on things like attending interviews, training events and conferences.”

Plan ahead

Interest in the metaverse and virtual worlds is particularly strong in Ireland. Findings of the 2022 Ipsos Global Trends Survey reported in The Irish Times (8 January 2022) highlight that 80% of Irish survey respondents agree with the statement: “Many more people will live their lives in virtual worlds.”

As the metaverse develops, companies facing skills shortages will be able to access a wider talent pool while employees will be able to connect with colleagues in virtual environments that feel much closer to real-life experiences.

Monitoring metaverse developments and planning ahead will be very important for employers this year. Companies need to consider how they can enhance their ability to attract and retain key skills. Proactive employers are already doing this but it is important to be able to separate hype about the metaverse from real opportunities. That’s one of the areas where Eolas Recruitment can help.

“Our recruiters constantly monitor developments that affect our clients and we continuously invest and innovate so that we can deliver the best possible advice. It’s one of the key ways we maintain our leadership position in IT recruitment,” says Vincent.

As to what the metaverse holds for Eolas Recruitment, Vincent says, “We’re excited about the potential to extend our reach and enhance our digital and virtual services. We’ve already designed new avatars for our team which we’ll be using to support those endeavours but it’s our recruiters’ specialist expertise that brings companies and candidates back to Eolas Recruitment time after time. That core value from the physical world is something that we’ll definitely be taking with us wherever our virtual journey leads.”

For further information and/or advice about Eolas Recruitment, please see our informational videos and online reviews or reach out to a member of our team to arrange a chat!

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