What qualifications do you need to get a job in software development?
I spend a lot of time harping on about getting more women into tech roles and encouraging girls to study STEM (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – if you were wondering). But what do you actually need to get a job in software development or coding? What should you be studying and what are the actual requirements?
I thought I’d sit down and have a chat with Marilyn Morrison, the HR Director at leading UK software development firmScott Logic. While Marilyn isn’t a coder she is the person who decides who gets through the door so I thought she’d be the best place to start asking questions. Marilyn has had an incredibly successful career not only in the tech sector but also in various other sectors heading up the HR department at some of the UK’s industry leaders. She also happens to play tennis in her spare time – which I respect because I have the hand eye co-ordination of a small monkey.
What exactly does recruiting for software roles entail?
We start by scrutinising an applicant’s CV and covering letter to ensure they have the required qualifications and experience we need, but we do also look out for the way they’ve formatted the documents, and for any obvious errors, like spelling mistakes and typos. These may not seem important, but when you have many applications to sift through, they can demonstrate which candidates have taken the right level or care and attention over their application, and who has really good attention to detail. This is one of the skills we look for at Scott Logic.
We’ll then telephone candidates for an initial chat to assess their experience and knowledge of specific technologies before meeting face to face and setting some problem solving tests. We’ll also use face to face interviews to ask questions surrounding some of our values. This helps us to get an impression of whether a candidate will be a good cultural fit with us.
Software tends to be considered a rather male dominated field. As a woman, did this put you off working in HR and recruiting for software roles at all?
Not at all; it’s an exciting and growing sector set to become less male-dominated as time goes on. Software development provides great opportunities for personal development and career advancement and certainly at Scott Logic, women are given the same chance to progress in their skills and career as anyone else. In fact, it doesn’t even enter our minds what gender someone is when they apply for a role as it’s not relevant. We recruit based on skills and competence.
As a female in the technology sector, have you ever felt discriminated against based on your gender or felt that being a woman hampered you in any way?
No, and the fact the sector is dominated by men is certainly not about discrimination in my experience. Rather, historically, software has been male dominated and continues to be, mainly due to outside perceptions, which are out of date and don’t paint an accurate picture of the industry.
The issue faced by the sector is attracting talented women into it. Gender segregation and segmentation, whether conscious or unconscious, begins at an early age, and we need to be careful as a society that we don’t lead girls away from subjects and activities connected to science, maths and technology. It’s down to parents, teachers and businesses alike to ensure we nurture and encourage talent in these areas, regardless of gender. Unless you work in software, it’s hard to appreciate the opportunities which exist. It’s not just about developing the software; it’s about the user experience, it’s about testing, technical project management, contributing to business change and helping create a culture of ongoing improvement. There is progression and such an array of roles available.
How do we get more young girls interested in a career in something like software development?
There are many great initiatives already taking place, such as Code Clubs in schools that are often supported by volunteers from local businesses, and mentoring schemes focused on supporting girls and women into technology and other STEM fields. There are so many great opportunities available in technology and these need to be promoted effectively. Schools and parents should ensure they don’t discourage or steer girls away from taking computer science as a curriculum option.
It really isn’t unusual for girls to be interested in areas that may once have been considered just for boys, so it’s crucial we don’t single girls out who enjoy these activities, and make them feel unusual in some way. Good career advice is important, so that girls and women get an accurate impression of what working in STEM is like and how rewarding it can be, as well as the many career options available within it. That’s why it’s important that businesses like Scott Logic have strong working relationships with schools and universities. We work together to provide and promote these opportunities.
Find out more about careers in software development and jobs available at Scott Logic by visiting their website
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