According to a report from The Recruitment and Employment Federation released in May, the demand for UK workers rose at its fastest rate in 23 years, while the number of people available to fill those demands fell at the fastest rate in four years

Within recruitment there has been an increase in clients looking for suitable candidates, which is obviously a great boost to the industry as well as the overall economy for the country.  However, it has been immediately apparent that there are less candidates applying for roles with the skill sets required.

There could be many reasons why people aren’t currently searching for their next move, from uncertainty going forward following the pandemic – last in first out mentality, the possibility for more remote working means commuters may stay in their current roles longer as they now have more flexibility.  As well as many are still on Furlough and are keen to wait until their current employers make decisions post the end of the scheme.

SO, WHAT IS A CANDIDATE DRIVEN MARKET?

If you think about buying and selling houses, we are currently in a “Sellers’ Market” which basically means there are less houses on the market vs the amount of people looking to buy, with more people outbidding each other to secure the purchase, many properties are being sold way above the asking price.  It’s currently pretty similar with candidates, with the lack of candidates on the market more companies are bidding to secure the best candidates available to join their business and are therefore often willing to increase salary/benefits etc to secure them.

Candidates are often receiving multiple job offers and therefore have the power of choice.  Many employers are raising the whole available package to encourage candidates who already work with them to stay, such as flexible working hours, career development plans and much more.

HOW TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE CURRENT MARKET AS A CANDIDATE

Whilst it may not feel the ideal time to move jobs, with general feelings of uncertainty post lockdown, you may want to consider the fact that you maybe in the best position you have ever been to find a job, a better salary and benefits package, as well as a new company that will value you more and seek to progress your career.  There is nothing to lose by searching for a new role whilst still maintaining your current one.  Update your CV and start the search.  Utilise all the channels open to you e.g., Job Boards, Recruitment Agencies, LinkedIn, Company Websites and start applying for roles that you feel will suit your skill set.

So, how can you take advantage of today’s candidate-driven job market?

  1. With the pool of job seekers shrinking you may have more power than you realise gaining an interview and also negotiating your overall package.
  2. Even if you hadn’t thought about leaving your current role, now is a good time to look just in case an opportunity arises that can’t be missed.
  3. You may have more bargaining power with your current employee, should there be more on offer outside the organisation. Do your research prior to discussing your potential opportunities within your current workplace.
  4. Employers who are seeing fewer resumes that meet their qualifications may be more open to someone bringing relevant or transferable skills and experience.

PREPARATION IS KEY

Get your CV up to date, and amend accordingly, ensuring your Career Summary is at the top of your CV and relates as much as possible to the role you are applying for, as well as a strong personal profile that distinguishes you from others.

Most people don’t enjoy the interview process, but like all walks of life preparation is key, gain hints and tips on how to manage interview nerves, prepare questions that will gain insights into the company.  Know your worth and what you can bring to the role and to the company.  Do your own research into salaries and benefits in your field to determine whether the package is relative to your experience and knowledge, research the company fully.

Be brave enough to negotiate if you feel you are worth more.  If you are offered less than you are asking for, don’t forget this is a candidate driven market and you have an advantage.  You have nothing to lose by asking the question and reminding the employer of your accomplishments.  Consider yourself as empowered but be realistic too.

ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS TO FIND OUT THE CULTURE OF A COMPANY

More than ever, it is a good idea to understand the culture of a company i.e., how well they look after their staff, what do they have in place for employee wellbeing.  This also includes growth opportunities and general day to day support.

You generally find companies who really live their values will integrate them fully into their recruitment process and discuss these openly with you, but have some questions ready to ask if this is not forthcoming, such as:

  • How does your company support its staff?
  • How did you manage during the pandemic?
  • What makes people proud to work at this company?
  • How often do you review your engagement and wellness programme?
  • How does the organisation support someone’s professional development?

It is completely natural to want to work within a company that recognises achievement and is good at celebrating success.  So, using questions to figure out how a company works on a day-to-day basis is a great way of finding out if it’s a company you want to work for.  With the new normal of more remote working and the potential of working flexible hours it is the perfect time to gain more insight into the working environment of a company.

  • What are some of the ways the company celebrates success?
  • How do you support and motivate your team?
  • What kind of flexible work arrangements do people have?
  • How has your culture changed since the pandemic?
  • How did you uplift your employees’ spirits during lockdown and what are your plans going forward?

COMPANIES SEEK TO RETAIN THEIR TOP TALENT

Companies fully aware of the current situation regarding the lack of candidates may well be ensuring they have a plan in place to retain their best assets, their people.  They will be ensuring their current team feel valued and recognised for their efforts, especially throughout the recent challenging times.  The increased focus on Engagement and Wellbeing schemes indicates it’s not too late to show your people what they mean to you, and the valuable place they hold within the company.  All of this additional activity and communication encourages people to stay put and not seek employment elsewhere.

HOW CAN COMPANIES ENGAGE IN A CANDIDATE DRIVEN MARKET?

If you want to stay competitive by attracting and retaining the talent your company needs in the current market, here are the strategies you’ll need to consider going forward.

Company branding requires constant attention and whilst candidates are searching for their ideal company they will research all aspects from website to social media, to employee comments (Glassdoor).  It is very important to maintain high standards and ensure you are monitoring the perceptions of your company and the principles it keeps.

You may need to reconsider your social media and Website information, ensuring that you are promoting your company often and reaching as many potential candidates as possible.  Remember if you have a careers page to link to here wherever possible.

Consider working with Recruitment Agencies, although there can be costs involved, you are not usually charged until a placement has been made (always read T&Cs) and therefore have the benefit of an established database of candidates already searching for roles, and that have already been initially screened prior to being interviewed, which in turn saves time and effectively money long term.  If you select to work with an agency establish time scales, as it is important to work to tight schedules in this market due to the speed at which candidates are being offered alternative roles.

Companies need to ensure they create attractive job descriptions and adverts, clearly demonstrating what is on offer and the additional benefits received when working for them vs the competition.  It is also a good idea to shorten the recruitment timescale as in a candidate driven market you won’t have the luxury of not moving fast to gain the right people, candidates will be getting multiple offers, and you need to ensure you are first to offer.

Candidates are not only looking at the basic salary they are offered but all the other perks that they may or may not be offered as part of their contract. Pension packages, healthcare benefits and other rewards are all valuable incentives which can help to recruit and retain talent in a candidate driven market.  Companies need to not only consider the overall package but what actually gives them the competitive edge vs any other company.

Employers who offer clear career paths and are prepared to invest in their people definitely have an advantage because candidates who know there is the potential to develop and progress within a company know if they work hard, they will eventually be rewarded for their efforts.

UNDERSTANDING WHAT CANDIDATES NEED

When you are seeking to attract new talent, you need to do your research to find out what the right candidate would want from the role itself in the current market.  Because of the pandemic and the time people spent in lockdown, many have had time to reflect on what is important and how they see their futures. Companies need to consider what changes they may need to bring to be even more attractive to candidates currently searching.

For example, some employers may find that a lot of candidates are favouring more flexibility, for a smoother work-life balance, or they may have been advocating for newer technology to ease the stresses of day-to-day working life. Paying close attention to these details, as well as some research into trends outside their own workplace, could help employers know what may attract the right candidate into their business.

CONSIDER CAREER CHANGERS WITH TRANSFERABLE SKILLS

You will find that due to recent events many people have selected to or had no choice but to change their career path.  Consider the travel industry and how many lost their jobs throughout the pandemic – remember these candidates will more than likely have excellent communication skills and customer service levels.  It doesn’t necessarily mean people are not ideal for your role, as they may have excellent transferrable skills that would not only enhance their capabilities in the role on offer, but bring a new dimension to current processes etc, its about being open minded and giving these candidates a chance to impress.

According to the job advertisement search engine, Adzuna, a survey released in 2020 shows that a quarter — approximately 2.2 million — of workers in the UK were considering a career shift for 2021. These figures indicate that, if given the opportunity, workers are willing to enter other industries or try other roles within the same industry. With this in mind, employers may find it beneficial to become more open to hiring those with little to no industry experience of a particular role but who show promise, determination, and are willing to learn.

CONSIDER A HYBRID WORKING ENVIRONMENT

WHAT DOES A HYBRID ENVIRONMENT LOOK LIKE?

Hybrid is a structure combining remote work and in-office days. Hybrid work is about adapting to how teams work best and creating experiences that reach everyone.  Office environments have always been evolving, even before the pandemic.  Open plan layouts as well as hot desking had been incorporated into many work settings long before going into lockdown.  Alongside new technical solutions such as video conference.

The hybrid model allows employees to retain the flexibility they’ve experienced working from home, and still have the kind of in-office contact with colleagues that strengthens teams and collaboration.

Consider that people who have worked from home during the last 12 months, or have seen others do so successfully, may be more interested in applying for jobs within organisations who offer this.  However, it may not be the perfect solution for all businesses as some functions are difficult to undertake from home/remotely and this will need to be taken into consideration.  Companies could consider flexi hours or staggered working hours as a compromise.

Even though hybrid set-ups will differ – some people will have the option to work a fixed number of days in the office whilst others with will have specific pre-selected days during which whole teams are in together, some may be allowed to set their own schedules flexibly. For many, an early challenge may be working out how to move seamlessly between home and work offices.

All workers will have different feelings about their ideal working environment. Some may feel they do their best work from home in a quieter setting, while others thrive in a bustling office environment, again it is about finding out what the candidate wants.

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