Zoopla: Moving forward with a diverse new generation of Software Engineers

Ten trainee Software Engineers, seven of whom are female, have taken their first steps in an exciting tech career with property portal, Zoopla. Following a demanding selection process, their 18-month Corndel Software Engineering Apprenticeship is now underway.

Catrin Anderson, Chief People Officer at Zoopla explained the drivers behind this unique recruitment drive.

We have ambitious plans for the future combined with a commitment to innovation, so we are very excited to launch our first apprenticeship programme. In particular we want to give opportunities to women who are looking to forge a career in technology and innovation, helping us build a pipeline of talent that will benefit our customers for years to come.

Changing the ratio of women in tech

We are delighted to announce that this cohort of apprentice Software Engineers is 70 per cent female; an impressive ratio given that only three per cent of females say technology is their first career choice.*

Zoopla and Corndel, along with 160 other leading UK organisations, are proud signatories of the Tech She Can Charter which has been a valuable support throughout the process. The Charter is a commitment by forward-thinking organisations to increase the number of women working in technology roles in the UK. Zoopla’s new intake is a shining example to other organisations that female tech talent is out there if you are committed to change and take practical steps to approaching recruitment in the right way.


An inclusive recruitment process

All the successful candidates should be extremely proud of their achievement of being selected for the role. Working in close partnership with Zoopla, Corndel managed the recruitment process for the ten new Software Engineer positions. Here is an insight into our approach:

Stage 1: In the job advert we specifically mentioned the support of the Tech She Can network to attract female applicants.

Stage 2: At the CV and application screenings stage we encouraged applications from people who have a passion for coding but no professional experience. A total of 480 people applied.

Stage 3: The aptitude tests had been specifically designed to test for some of the skills required to be a good developer without requiring any prior knowledge of coding or software development. This is a tried-and-tested approach for attracting diverse groups of applicants and to avoid discriminating against people who have not come through the more traditional pathways such as a Computer Science degree.

Stage 4: We ran four Assessments Centres with 12 candidates in each. Designed in partnership with Zoopla, this process enabled participants to demonstrate their collaborative skills and creative thinking. The Zoopla team had a chance to observe the group’s work and evaluate based on the company’s core behaviours.

Stage 5: The final part of the selection process was individual interviews during which representatives from Zoopla’s HR and Tech teams met with short listed candidates to better understand their personalities and evaluate how they could add value to the existing team.


Project-ready software developers in just 12 weeks

The group’s journey begins with a 12-week bootcamp. Starting out with limited coding experience they will be on a steep learning curve for 3 months and will then join their new colleagues in Zoopla’s product and tech team, at a Junior Developer level.

Ongoing learning is then delivered via 12 monthly workshops which introduce the developers to more advanced concepts as they develop their engineering skills. The new recruits know that after the bootcamp they will be straight into a major rebuild of the Zoopla platform, quickly having the opportunity to apply their new skills.

We wish this talented group all the very best for the programme and will catch up with them soon to see how they are progressing.


*PwC Women in Tech survey

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