The 5 biggest challenges facing recruiters in 2024

Barron Williams post
Barron Williams

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We must keep one step ahead of the latest industry trends. We have to be adaptable to change so we can successfully navigate the rapidly evolving and ever-changing recruitment landscape.

The national media is awash at this time of year with reports from industry associations, government agencies, and market research firms telling us what the outlook will be for 2024. They provide us with valuable insight into trends, challenges, and opportunities in the job market and recruitment sector. 

However, these stat-driven pieces are written by people who are not often found at the coal face. They make predictions that are hard to back up with any real substance. They’re good on numbers but it is hard to predict the future – just ask any FD reviewing the sales budget.

As a business, whilst we took a break to celebrate Christmas and see in the New Year, we are always in proactive recruitment mode. We know our clients. We understand our candidates. But our focus is always firmly on people. Developing and managing our talent pipeline before a client’s need to hire even arises. “Equalising before they score,” as we say.

2024 might be a New Year but will we see the same challenges as the last? Is the market shifting back from candidate-driven to employer-driven? These are the types of questions we always start asking at this time of year. Regardless, it will be “hard work-driven”.

In this article, we want to look at what we think are the prevalent challenges that will (and could potentially) persist or evolve for job seekers and recruiters in 2024.

We have selected the 5 biggest challenges facing recruiters in 2024 that we feel will be most problematic and we’re taking a closer look at their impact and how we can approach them:

1. Talent Shortages

Finding qualified candidates for a specific role will always be a challenge, particularly in highly technical industries where a skill shortage is often par for the course.

We’ve seen the scarcity of qualified candidates impact several industries and sectors in recent months, from Insurance and Transport to Retail and e-commerce, and we expect that to continue into 2024.

Shortages are often hard to pin on one thing as several factors often contribute to a dearth of available talent.

For example, there may be a misalignment between the skills candidates possess and the skills our clients demand at the price they want to pay – especially after recent wage inflation. 

Rapid technological advancements in manufacturing are another common issue that we are seeing more and more.

Changes in demographics, such as an ageing workforce or a decline in the working age, can also lead to a shortage of skilled workers. 

Some industries can even face a shortage due to specialised skill requirements, stringent regulations, or even just a lack of interest in that specific field. Evolution and commercial reality, particularly in mature industries.

Competition, education, and shifts in employee expectations, such as a desire for flexible work arrangements or a focus on work-life balance, can all impact the availability of candidates for certain positions

And, of course, we can not forget our current economic predicament. All of the above can lead to talent shortages.

The impact on our clients can be longer recruitment times, increased competition, and potentially higher salary demands from candidates with the in-demand skills. 

As recruiters we will seek to adapt our recruitment strategies and develop creative solutions to attract (or even retain) the best talent. It is tough be we are OK with that.

Overcoming a talent shortage is complex but one we are best positioned to face. 

We work closely with our clients to develop and communicate a strong employer brand, and we best utilise social media and our online presence to leverage said brand. 

We actively engage and extensively network and we can always tap into a large pool of passive talent.

There’s still no substitute for best practice x hard work.

Our clients might need to offer competitive compensation and benefits, provide the opportunity for professional development, implement referral programs, etc. However, that is a constructive conversation we have to have, and we do.

Together, if we’re good and efficient, we can ensure that the process is effective and candidate-friendly. This is what will secure the top talent before they accept other offers.

2. Remote & Hybrid Working

We almost left this one out, it feels like a pandemic hangover. 

However, we can’t ignore the shift to remote work and hybrid models, which is still an ongoing challenge in assessing candidates and retaining talent.

Both our process and the roles we recruit will still include a mix of in-person and virtual collaboration. 

Whilst the pandemic sparked this sudden need (and a widespread shift), it has been facilitated by advancements in digital technology, collaboration tools, and a growing acceptance of (and appreciation of the benefits of) remote working practices.

Many organisations have retained their hybrid models, allowing employees to split their time between working remotely and in the office. 

It is not a good fit for all but for many, it provides flexibility while maintaining a level of in-person collaboration.

For us, we see the biggest challenge with this increased prevalence of remote working, is a need for greater emphasis on employee well-being and mental health. 

It is here to stay, so the need to recognise and support it is the area we now need to focus on. It will also grow as a source of advantage in attracting capable people who value flexibility.

Technology again plays a big part in helping us stay connected and part of a team, however, the most important is for organisations to reevaluate and update their remote working policies to accommodate the changing landscape. 

Working hours, performance measurement, and communication protocols are all impacted. A quick pandemic fix will not suffice. Workforce management, organisational culture, and workplace policies all need to be now robust and fit for purpose. It is strategically important now.

Not just our clients too. As recruiters, we need to adapt to the rise in remote and hybrid working by adjusting our strategies and processes to meet the evolving needs of both clients and candidates.

We try to highlight any specific remote work expectations or requirements, continue to use video interviews and virtual assessments to evaluate candidates remotely and emphasise our commitment to a work/life balance. But it’s still Frontierland – we’re learning still.

Increasingly, many of our clients are now considering senior execs who have demonstrated success in remote or hybrid work environments. We are actively searching for self-motivated individuals with a track record of delivering results independently.

Adaptable is certainly one of the keywords for 2024. As recruiters and hiring managers we recognise that if there is a preference for remote or hybrid working, we must be flexible in negotiating working arrangements to attract top talent.

As recruiters we are ready to navigate the increasing demand for remote and hybrid work and, as a business, we are ensuring that our processes are aligned with the changing landscape of the modern workplace.

3. Candidate Experience

If a challenge can be seen as a call to justify something or a competitive situation, then this falls into the latter. 

As a recruitment business, we need to always try and be one step ahead of the competition when it comes to providing a positive candidate experience.

We want to set the benchmark with regard to communication, transparency, and efficiency of the process. It directly impacts on our success and reputation. 

Satisfied candidates attract both new clients and retain top talent for the future. 

Talented senior execs will actively engage with and apply through us based on the way we treat our people and the process we put them through.

We know that our clients prefer to work with a recruitment company that provides a seamless and positive experience for candidates. 

Happy candidates become successful hires, leading to increased client satisfaction and why so many come back to us. 

Satisfied candidates are more likely to refer us to their peers, which is vital for the maintenance and development of our talent pool. Referrals and recommendations are like gold dust to us.

We fish in a highly competitive pond, where multiple recruitment firms are vying for the same talent, and a positive candidate experience is one of our key differentiators. 

It sets us apart from the competition and makes us the preferred choice for both candidates and clients. We are not alone in this but feedback tells us that we are still a minority.

A positive candidate experience is not just for short-term gain too, as it plays a key role in fostering long-term relationships. 

Even if a candidate is not selected for a specific role, they will consider us for future opportunities if the experience is a positive one.

An efficient process, coupled with effective comms, reduces time-to-hire and demonstrates our commitment to a timely and cost-effective recruitment process.

In a dynamic market, candidates will have multiple irons in multiple fires. Those of us who prioritise candidate experience will always be better equipped to adapt to the ever-changing market conditions and ever-evolving candidate expectations.

Prioritising candidate experience is not just a way to foster goodwill though; it is a strategic imperative for us, and it will positively and directly influence our brand, client relationships, talent acquisition, and overall success in what is (and will continue to be) a highly competitive industry in 2024.

4. Client Branding

Building and maintaining a strong employer brand is essential for our clients to attract top talent. 

As recruiters, the big challenge for us this year is to ensure a positive perception of your organisation in a competitive and shifting market.

Client branding (aka employer branding) will continue to play a critical role in sourcing said talent, and it is imperative that we (client and recruiter) effectively demonstrate and leverage it to attract and retain.

It is what helps us stand out, making both role and organisation more appealing to candidates who are actively and passively seeking opportunities. 

You want people who will fit into your organisation. Not just capability-wise but culturally too. From the outset, when we start looking at candidates for a role, we are matching them to our client not just the role.

This goes deeper than being well-known for the right reasons. We will work with you to develop a compelling employer brand that communicates your unique Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and positions you several steps ahead of the competition.

Not only will a strong employer brand attract the right talent but it will also contribute to the retention of high-performing individuals and directly influence the quality of applications when we do need to approach the market.

This is why we choose only to work with clients that we feel that we can earnestly “sell” to our candidates.

We want to put people in an organisation they are proud to be a part of, and in turn, they are more likely to stay in post. Talented senior execs are more likely to apply for roles with companies that have a sector-leading reputation.

A strong brand builds advocates, saves on recruitment costs, builds your profile on social media, opens up bigger and better talent pools and pipelines, and ultimately, helps attract execs who best align with your values and culture.

That means our brand too. We need shared values with our clients.

Resilience will be vital in 2024 and a strong brand will help us adapt to the inevitable market changes and economic fluctuations. 

In the increasingly competitive landscape of talent acquisition, it is what will set us apart, attract the best and, in turn, create a successful and positive working environment in your organisation.

5. Retention

Retaining top talent is just as important as attracting it. If not more important. 

Developing effective retention strategies is one of the biggest challenges our sector will face in 2024.

Retaining senior executives is critical for your development, success and organisational stability. 

Your senior exec team provide strategic direction and leadership, so retaining them ensures continuity and leadership for consistent decision-making and execution of long-term plans.

They hold all the industry knowledge and experience, so retention means your business benefits from their expertise, insight, and institutional memory, all of which contribute to better decision-making and problem-solving.

Continuity is also vital for effective succession planning. 

It gives you the time needed to identify and develop potential successors, ensuring a smooth transition when leadership inevitable changes such as retirement arise.

This is why we endeavour to recruit for the long-term (even though defining the long-term is difficult these days). Recruitment businesses like “churn”, however, we prefer stability based on quality of hire. If you’re doing a good job clients come back to you.

We speak a lot about the importance of organisational culture and values, and we endeavour to live up to ours. 

Losing key personnel can significantly our clients’ business, so we must strive to maintain continuity in hiring the managers and execs who stick.

Focus on stability and we can retain and positively influence employee morale and confidence, long after our invoice has been paid. 

Committed execs in challenging times help to send a positive message to the rest of the workforce and foster a sense of security.

Low executive turnover can also be perceived extremely positively by customers, clients, investors, partners, regulatory bodies and industry peers. 

Retaining your senior team will maintain a positive reputation, preserve relationships (which are often built on trust and mutual understanding), and demonstrate to internal and external stakeholders that you have strong and stable leadership.

Stable leadership is usually a key consideration in attracting high-calibre executives considering a new opportunity too. 

It will give you a competitive advantage in the talent market. 

We choose to work with clients who are seeking to fill key positions with people who can make long-term impact.

Yes, we respond to the “fire brigade calls” to “put out the fire” with turnaround execs used to working in pressured environments but most of the time we are looking for skills, experience and longevity!

2024 is certainly going to be a bumpy ride, the successful will need stability, adaptability, knowledge continuity, cultural leadership, and resilience, to provide a strong foundation for navigating the complexities we will inevitably face.

If you are looking to work with a team dedicated to helping you find the right people to fulfil those crucial roles for your organisation, please use our Client Upload Form or call us today.

If you are looking to find or apply for a new role, then please feel free to Upload Your CV or call us for an exploratory conversation.

And if you’re not already, please don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Barron Williams

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