Top tech companies poach UK public sector – fact

Technology giants are using morally grey-area tactics to poach staff from government institutions.

Companies are using recruitment agencies to wade into personal information such as potential candidate wages, in a bid to entice them away with a cheque larger than their employers can ever afford.

A top HR employee at an extremely popular online retailer has confirmed to TechEye that it will go to extreme lengths in a bid to recruit those at the top of their game, particularly in the security field. Our source tells us: “We’ve offered up to three times more to an employee, especially one in the government security sector.”

Government agencies are struggling to keep up with private companies such as Microsoft and Google when it comes to paying salaries. One organisation, which has felt the effects, is government-funded GCHQ.

Iain Lobban, director at the intelligence base in Cheltenham, told a parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee that: “Month-on-month, we are losing whizzes who’ll basically say: ‘I’m sorry, I am going to take three times the salary and the car and whatever else’.”

He was responding to the committee’s annual report (PDF), which said that it was “concerned” GCHQ was unable to keep a “suitable cadre of internet specialists” to deal with the threat of cyber attacks.

However, the average annual cost for a full-time GCHQ employee, which stands at £44,534, is much less than what the bigwigs can offer, and according to one exec at an online retailer, they know just what they’re doing.

Talking to TechEye, our deepthroat says: “Before we put out an advert externally, we always put it in-house for three weeks first.

“However, during this time we do have someone who will trawl through and look for what we describe as outstanding candidates in other areas and smaller research centres, which we know we can beat on salary.

“Our external recruitment agency will then headhunt these candidates and probe to see how much they are on and if they are interested in leaving.

“If they don’t seem interested the first time we’ll try again with better salary offers. In some cases we’ve offered up to three times more to an employee, especially one in the government security sector.

“We’re a big company, so we need these people on-hand. They will most likely be chosen over internal candidates too.”

An anonymous industry watcher in the HR field backs the story.

“I haven’t personally done deals with big companies like this one, but it does happen,” our agency employee says. “Of course, because of the nature of the way the companies and recruitment agencies operate, this has to be kept quiet. It would look very bad if, say, the likes of Microsoft was found to be actively pushing to gain recruits in this manner.

“That said, if you move ethics aside, the companies aren’t really doing anything wrong. They are doing all they can to secure their business and security and if they have the money to do it then that’s fair enough.

“What does reek is the fact they use some of us to really delve in and find out salaries of those they want.”