'We want to hire developers but we're struggling to find really talented ones' - thetrainline.com CTO

By Sooraj Shah
30 May 2014 View Comments

There is a shortage of "really talented" developers, according to Mark Holt, CTO at thetrainline.com.

Thetrainline.com is a popular website that commuters use to book national rail tickets. The company also provides the same technology for the websites of companies like Virgin Trains.

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In an interview with Computing, Holt, who is only two months into his role as CTO, explained that the biggest priority for him is to find talented developers.

"We have a big website and we process an enormous amount of transactions, and we're looking for people that want the software that they've built to be put in front of hundreds of millions of people.

"We want to make brilliant products but it's about getting really good developers who want to create amazing experiences," he said.

Holt claims that the firm has "vacancies for as many developers as we can recruit" and is receiving many applications for these roles. But while it has been recruiting one or two developers a month for full-time jobs, it is eager to recruit even more - but hasn't been able to because of a dearth of talent.

"If we could find 20 we would be chuffed. We've gone through a big process of insourcing over the last two years and brought a lot of developers in-house, but there are now so many great things we want to do, but getting people in to do it is the biggest challenge," Holt stated.

Some of the characteristics and skills that thetrainline.com is looking for include communication skills, a good attitude and being able to problem solve, according to Holt.

He said that developers typically like working on their own in their bedrooms, and suggested that working as part of a team is not something many of them are used to.

"We want people who can engage with other people, can work with marketing and finance teams and with each other," he claimed.

The problem for the company is that many applicants with technical expertise do not have the right soft skills and vice versa, and Holt said that he would prefer to hire a candidate with the soft skills rather than the technical know-how.

"I'd rather take them on if they've got the soft skills and not the technical ones as you can teach them specific languages, where as if they haven't got the right approach or attitude it can be problematic," he explained.

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