Recovery brings recruitment challenges for employers, says recruiter Paul Jameson
After the longest recession of modern times and business picking up across the board, employers are naturally now turning their focus to increasing their headcount. But the long-lasting downturn has left some with the false impression that there are many available people and that candidates will be clamouring for jobs
The headline unemployment rate (claimant count) currently stands at around 6%, but masks the fact that in some regions of the UK unemployment is less than 2%. In July 2014, for instance, the South West of England’s unemployment rate was in fact just 1.8%.
Figures from the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) confirm that the job market has returned to a state of high demand and their UK Labour Market report of September 2014 concludes that demand for staff has increased at the fastest pace since April 1998. Consequently, the pool of suitable, skilled and available staff is now much smaller and expected to get smaller.
“Candidates have much more choice now that the economy is picking up and will often have several competitive job offers on the table at once. This is the new & lsquo;norm’ and may come as a surprise to some employers,” says Paul Jameson.
Jameson advises that some employers must now re-learn how to attract and retain staff and warns that lax recruitment habits picked up during a recession could be difficult to shake off. “Understandably many employers have forgotten how to recruit in times of high demand and are just not used to having to work hard to land candidates.”
Recently those in Human Resources departments have become more used to dealing with the demands of a reducing workforce than a growing one. Some HR staff and line managers may never even have worked in times of staff shortages.
“The tide has definitely turned,” says Jameson. “In order to recruit and retain the right staff employers must now overhaul their recruitment practices and start selling themselves and their brand. As a recruitment specialist, we often get sent job specifications with no information or background on the business at all. Clients must think about what they can offer prospective candidates and how they sell themselves to the candidates”.
It was never acceptable to neglect the candidate experience however in recent past many employers got away with it. Now those same companies will lose the best candidates and those treated poorly will not return.
Today it is vital for business to get the fundamentals of the recruitment process right. “First impressions really do count. I’ve come across instances where candidates have turned down roles purely based on how they were treated at the interview,” says Jameson.