14 Oct The ‘War for Talent’ and how to win!
The talent shortage
Industry and sector-wide, it is clear that there is a talent shortage in the UK. Demand for talent is high yet applications for roles are at an all-time low. This is creating a candidate-led market where good candidates are in powerful positions and can afford to be choosy about the roles they apply for. They are likely to negotiate hard on an employment offer, knowing they hold all the cards. Consequently, we see the rise of a war on talent; recruiters competing over the best candidates in the market, and employers offering terms of employment that might be more favourable to new employees than existing staff, creating a real challenge for some employers to fill vital roles and to retain the talent they have.
Why are we facing a talent shortage?
It is fair to say there are a wide number of factors creating the current war for talent, but as recruiters or finance and office support staff, we have made the following observations.
Demand has soared – 18 months into a pandemic, organisations are continuously pushing the button on recruitment and creating a record number of new jobs.
Talent pool shrinkage – the pandemic has significantly reduced international moves and fewer people are relocating for roles. Yes, technology has enabled many roles to be carried out remotely, but this isn’t the answer for every position. The pool in which we are all fishing for candidates has therefore shrunk.
Job security – we are also seeing people sitting tight in their current roles – the economic market is still turbulent and uncertain, the furlough scheme has only just ended, it is likely that Covid rates will increase going into winter, and many people want to hold on to their job security as well as the flexibility of still working from home that many have become used to, and don’t want to give up.
Work-life balance has become an overriding priority for many – we have seen a significant shift in mindset from many candidates – the pandemic has taught us that life is too short and that many jobs can be done from home whilst also giving us more time to dedicate to family, childcare, hobbies, etc. We are seeing candidates say ‘no’ to great opportunities because they require them to be in the office five days a week.
Less investment in training and development – face-to-face training and development has been pretty much non-existent over the last 18 months, which means that senior roles cannot necessarily be filled by internal candidates if they have not had the training to enable them to ‘step up’, and consequently may be tempted elsewhere, where there is greater investment in career development.
How to attract candidates and retain good candidates
While finding good talent at the moment is tough, this will not always be the case. In the meantime, though, here are some tips on what employers can do to attract the best people.
Whilst it has become increasingly competitive to find good talent, employers cannot offer everything to everyone, and nor should they. The trends we are seeing will not last and employers need to be honest about who they are and what they can offer. There is no point in offering the earth and then not being able to see this through. That said, it is important that employers have a clear and attractive brand and that they communicate this as part of their recruitment campaign. This should cover who they are, what makes their values and working culture special and unique, and why people want to work for them. Perhaps think of innovative ways to demonstrate this to candidates during the recruitment process, e.g. provide videos of existing employees talking about what they like about the business or set up a webinar/Q&A session for prospective candidates to ask live questions.
Positive candidate experience
The candidate’s experience is key. It is critical that candidates feel valued, informed, and engaged from beginning to end of the recruitment process (and throughout the onboarding process for the successful candidate). Take time to create an attractive job specification which outlines more than the technical requirements of the role. It should cover the business’s unique selling points, its strategy and vision, its values and culture, and the benefits of working for the organisation. These don’t have to be material benefits; offering employee mentoring programmes and personalised career development planning sessions are very attractive to ambitious ‘high potentials’.
It is also important to communicate clear timelines, such as shortlisting, longlisting, and first interview dates, in order to manage candidate expectations. Ensure these are realistic and not too drawn out. Otherwise, you risk losing candidates who are available at short notice to other opportunities.
Provide good quality and timely feedback at each stage of the recruitment process and keep in close contact with shortlisted candidates; check-in, invite and answer their questions, and ask whether they are in a recruitment process elsewhere to inform how you manage the process and move quickly where possible, to show a level of urgency and commitment to making an appointment. Building engagement and momentum is key.
Expand the talent pool you are fishing from
Posting an attractive job advert is just one route to attracting talent, and in the current market, it may not be enough to get a strong shortlist of 4 or 5 good candidates. Employers need to open up the talent pool by advertising their vacancies on multiple platforms – job sites, social media, and educational/training institutions. Alternatively, use a recruitment company to find you the best talent. With over twenty years in the finance recruitment industry, we have a database and network of hundreds of local finance professionals who are either actively or passively looking for their next career move. Recruitment is tough at the moment and time-consuming, so why not use the skills of trained recruitment professionals to do what they are best at?
A new dawn
All of the above being said we are already starting to see a shift in employer and employee attitudes. Current statistics state that 71% of employees who work from home are burnt out. As their home and work lives blur, they find it more difficult to take breaks and downtime, causing increased stress and anxiety. People realise that they need to separate work and home life. They have missed the face-to-face collaboration with colleagues, and they want to kick start their career progression once more. We are already seeing a return to office work and a sense of relief from employees to resume normal work patterns and behaviours. The recruitment market is buoyant and candidates realise now is the right time to be looking for their next move, which is attracting more and more people back into the available talent pool. For employers, the secret is knowing where to look to find them!
If you would like any advice on running a recruitment campaign or would like us to recruit a senior finance, accountancy and finance or office support role for you, then please get in touch. We would be delighted to hear from you.