Ocado Technology has launched a push to recruit an extra 100 UK technical staff by targeting people working in the UK divisions of established tech firms such as Amazon and Skype.
The company – which powers the infrastructure and IT of grocery delivery service Ocado – highlighted the competitive nature of IT recruitment with mildly provocative "clean graffiti" placed in front of the offices where tech staff work, inviting them to apply for a position at Ocado.
The graffiti varies from phrases including: "Fed up of being a drone? Try programming one instead," and "Allowed to pitch ideas to your CEO? Then implement code in 2 hours? Thought not."
Ocado is hoping to highlight a "startup" attitude, with agile development of its technologies taking place entirely in house. As well as Skype and Amazon, staff at banking giant UBS was also targeted.
Paul Clarke, Ocado's director of technology, said the campaign was as much a response to other companies' advances on its staff as it was a reminder that Ocado is a company rife with innovation.
"We are frequently targeted by many of the companies we're targeting and others like them," he told V3. "It's not a two-way street, if anything it's a one-way street in the other direction. In a way this drive was a way to redress the balance a bit."
He said there had been a shift in public perception, with more people realising Ocado was as much a technology business as it is a retail firm. "We're taking that shift to the next stage and saying Ocado Technology needs to build its own brand as a technology hub within the Ocado business, in order for us to be seen as an exciting destination in terms of building their experience and their CV."
Based in Hatfield, Ocado says it is looking for designers, software engineers and technicians in departments ranging from analytics and optimisation to business support systems and simulation teams for Ocado's warehouses. Ocado is also seeking to recruit 50 more staff in its Krakow-based Polish offices.
V3 contacted Skype and Amazon for a response. Skype said it, and its parent company Microsoft, remained committed to hiring and retaining its staff, while Amazon has not commented.
The tussle for IT staff is one recruiters will know well, with companies constantly poaching staff from one another as too few skilled graduates are entering the market. As the UK's tech startup scene booms, graduates are being tempted by more than money, with the opportunity to have a direct impact on the direction of a company proving to be a significant draw for some.
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