Demand for candidates continues to climb as vacancies hit record highs. There are various factors that have contributed to this job rich market, namely the uncertainty that COVID-19 created for businesses and the economy overall, and the after effects of this.
According to the Institute of Fiscal studies, job vacancies in April 2020 were down by 54% in comparison to the national pre-pandemic average. The fall was felt in nearly all occupations, with all dropping by at least 20%. The largest hit specialism was hospitality, with pubs, clubs, bars and all manner of businesses shutting their doors due to lockdown restrictions. It’s therefore no surprise that as restrictions started to ease in June 2020 vacancies started to rise, increasing by 65.5% from pre-pandemic levels (Office for National Statistics). This spike in open roles is evident across all major industries still, with vacancies rising above pre-pandemic levels.
Employees are still in high demand
As unemployment continues to fall and the UK job market endures the implications of Brexit with fewer European workers, competition for candidates remains fierce (House of Commons library: How has the pandemic affected industries and labour in the UK). This in turn is creating a significant strain on operating models, costs and the ability for companies to expand. As highlighted by KPMG's September 2021, ‘UK Report on Jobs’, whilst companies have adapted their business model during the pandemic, the pressure of the shrinking candidate supply will likely affect the UK labour market for years to come. It has therefore never been more important for employers to review their long-term attraction and retention strategy, in particular their immediate hiring processes and approach.
“Business leaders need to prioritise their recruitment strategy to ensure that the candidate lifecycle is as personal, efficient and easy as possible. As we continue to cope with the challenges of the pandemic and candidate short market there’s a big opportunity for companies to be forward thinking, working with recruitment agencies to adopt technology and new processes to ensure a first-rate candidate experience,” says James Franklin, Director in Professional Services for Search.
Given only 37% of talent acquisition teams take the time to review their recruitment processes (Lever: The 2020 state of recruiting report) there’s certainly an opportunity for businesses to level up their approach. So, what can employers do to improve their hiring strategy to ensure they’re not missing out on top talent?
Communicate a strong employer brand
Employees want to be part of a company that resonates with their beliefs and aspirations. In the Glassdoor ‘Culture over Cash’ report, out of 5000 people surveyed, 77% of respondents said they would consider the culture of a company before applying. In addition, 66% of UK respondents said they cared more about culture than salary packages and 89% stated it was important to them for employers to have a ‘clear mission and purpose’. Therefore, how can you ensure that your culture and values are evident throughout the interview stage?
Communication on culture, values and ethics needs to start as early as the job listing. Make sure to include information about hybrid working, team size, office layout, engagement and social activities. Language used is key in reflecting company ethos, so the more informal and colloquial, sometimes the better. During the interview process talk about the values and benefits of the business such as the wellbeing strategy, holiday entitlement and benefits packages. All of these things will provide a potential employee with a good overview of your company brand, and how they can expect to be treated as an employee.
Address interview inefficiencies
There are often many internal barriers that can delay the candidate lifecycle from progressing. Whether that’s inaccurate job descriptions, a lengthy interview process or hiring managers failing to provide timely feedback to peers and recruiters. These are all factors that can deter the right candidate from accepting an offer.
It’s a good idea to conduct an audit of your interview process at the individual and macro team level to identify blockers and limitations. Embrace new recruitment practices to make the process quicker and more efficient. This might include interview scheduling tools, automated email reminders or online pre-screen questionnaires. It might also be worth considering inviting potential new hires in for a ‘meet the team’ / workshop day to assess capability and keep candidates engaged with your proposition.
Embrace remote recruiting
The pandemic has shifted the way we approach our working lifestyle. Companies who want the best talent need to make sure they provide a part-time remote option at the very least. A report commissioned by HR Morning showed that 54% of workers would leave their current employer if they couldn’t work from home and 80% of respondents would not accept a role if flexible working wasn’t an option. If you have a strong remote working culture then it makes sense to recruit employees remotely too. In fact there are numerous benefits, including; access to a large diverse talent pool, a faster hiring process and substantial cost savings. By targeting anyone regardless of where they’re based you’re expanding your reach to find the best person for the job, not just someone within a certain radius.
Tailor your communication
All candidates are different, of varying generations with sometimes distinct communication preferences. A study by NTT Data, ‘Communicating Through the Ages’, confirmed that those from the ‘alpha generation’ (those born 2013 onwards) spend an average of two hours per day looking at screen media and therefore prefer short, fast, bursts of communication via digital apps. It’s worth considering how you can adjust your communication approach to align with personality types and generational profiles. Regular, timely and honest communication will also keep candidates engaged and mitigate misunderstandings or confusion.
In this candidate short market, it’s essential that companies take the time to evaluate and enhance their recruitment process in order to remain competitive.
At Search we have a host of expert recruiters with specialist knowledge in over 15 specialisms. Get in touch for advice on how we can support your hiring needs.