The Candidate Experience: Is now the right time to apply for a new role?

Barron Williams post
Barron Williams

Find more articles

This year has seen the recruitment market quickly bounce back. The question many are left asking is; is now the right time to apply for a new role?

Over the summer we’ve seen many of the restrictions we’ve lived under lift.

I’m sure we face tough times ahead, and at Barron Williams, we’re still exercising caution. 

We will continue to utilise the virtual to our advantage, and for the benefit of candidates and clients alike.

With the recruitment market now picking up, are we looking at what many in the press have dubbed the “great resignation”? 

Many played it safe during the pandemic, cautious about changing roles in uncertain times. Understandably.

Is the team at Barron Williams looking at a busy end to 2021? Yes, we are.

From a candidate’s perspective, is it safe to think about career progression again and put yourself back on the market? Yes, no doubt.

The latest REC Report on Jobs highlighted that activity is picking up again and vacancy growth hit a record high in June 2021:

“Recruitment activity surged again in June amid reports of greater demand for staff and the return to more normal business conditions as lockdown measures eased. Permanent appointments growth hit a fresh series record, while the upturn in temp billings was among the fastest in the survey history. At the same time, vacancy growth hit a new series record.”

The report goes on to say:

“The steady return to more normal business operations, improved market confidence and greater demand for staff all drove a further marked increase in recruitment activity in June. Permanent staff appointments expanded at the quickest rate since the survey began in October 1997, while temp billings growth hit the highest for nearly 23 years.”

Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, said:

“Recruiters are working flat out to fill roles across our economy. The jobs market is improving at the fastest pace we have ever seen, but it is still an unpredictable time. We can’t yet tell how much the ending of furlough and greater candidate confidence will help to meet this rising demand for staff. In some key shortage sectors like hospitality, food, driving and IT, more support is likely to be needed to avoid slowing the recovery. That means supporting transitions into growing sectors through unemployment support and new skills programs, as well as making sure the new immigration system reacts to demand, as promised. But it also means that hiring companies need to re-assess their workforce plans. In a tight jobs market, working with professional recruiters to position your firm as an employer of choice is a must.”

What next if you want to apply for a new role?

If you are thinking of making a change and looking to apply for a new role, then we would advise you do so with foresight.

Think, plan and then act proactively.

Be clear about why you want to leave your current role/organisation?

Be clear about what you want from your new role/organisation?

At this moment in time, we feel an important question every candidate needs to ask when looking at a move to a new organisation is: 

How did they look after their people during the pandemic?

Business results during that period could have taken a knock, many of our clients suffered, much recruitment in 2020 was put on hold.

How did they react to the challenges?

What decisions did they take to protect themselves? 

How were they implemented?

The ‘how’ is as telling as the ‘what’.

Is this a company you want to work for?

Do your research. Due diligence.

Set the bar high.

When you engage, ask the questions.

It is always a two-way process!

Competition for the best senior execs is incredibly high right now. 

For the good ones, it is a candidates market. Be selective.

If you’re ready, take advantage to find your next move – But make sure you get it right! Work with the recruiter or HR/Internal Recruiter.

The media is currently awash with articles that are predicting a new era of employee power. 

We touched on this in our Employee Experience article.

And whilst we agree there is demand for senior exec talent, don’t let this tip over into thinking you hold all the cards.

Clients still want the right person. It just means we may have to work harder to find and attract them.

It is still tough out there, competition for good roles is always fierce.

The pandemic has made many a senior exec refocus. That the time is right to apply for a new role. 

Bold perhaps, when many others are currently choosing the ‘better the devil you know’ career plan.

According to a recent article on The Guardian website:

“There are lots of positive headlines about jobs. Last month, 197,000 more employees joined payrolls while vacancies now exceed pre-crisis levels. Reportedly, 80% of workers furloughed during lockdown have returned to work. Headline unemployment and pay data show a strong labour market with the unemployment rate falling to 4.7%, far lower than expected, with average earnings up 5.6%, the fastest increase this millennium.”

However, they go on to say that there’s a growing “COVID employment gap”:

“Total hours worked are still down 5% on normal levels – a statistic we’d normally see in a recession, not a boom. The Covid employment gap of furloughed staff, plus the fall in the number of employees and self-employed people during the pandemic stands at about 2 million people. And 10% of those who were self-employed before the crisis are not working now.”

Have UK companies adjusted to the new senior executive job market?

So whilst it is clear the job market is picking up, there still needs to be an element of caution if you’re looking to apply for a new role. 

It is important to perform due diligence, however, at Barron Williams, we feel it is vital we focus on the positive.

At the start of the year, many of the senior exec candidates we spoke to admitted holding off from looking or applying for a new role.

They wanted the change but they weren’t active.

If you’re secure in your current role, and that organisation has looked after you during the pandemic, why rock the boat?

Why risk-taking that leap into the unknown? 

Stay put and wait for some return to normal, albeit a new normal.

Yes, it is right to think of your career as a marathon and not a sprint. We would even argue that many have made moves that, with hindsight, they wouldn’t have.

However, you should always be open to opportunities. 

You just never know when the right role could appear and you may not recognise it as such when you first hear of it.

When you get the call, LinkedIn note, or email… Respond!

Whether you’re actively in the market or not…

Keep on networking… Network, Network, Network.

Even if you are happy in your current role/organisation, keep in touch with us (and others), keep an ear to the ground!

If we jump back to the point we made above about it being a candidate-driven market…

Yes, you might find you receive multiple approaches in the coming months.

Good employers will not want to lose talented senior execs in turbulent times, so potentially they’ll move heaven and earth to keep you?

However, if you’re moving for good reason – move anyway!

As we discussed in great detail in last month’s Is salary the top priority for senior executives? article, there is much more to it than money…

And again, we jump back to another point we made earlier. 

It is vital that you work with a company that matches your values and culture fit, otherwise you’re in trouble!

If a client can’t offer you what you’re looking for from your next role/organisation, then what incentive do you have to move?

If your current role allows for greater flexibility in terms of remote working, why move to those who insist you’re office-based full time?

You need a company with the right fit, culture, brand values, and sector/market reputation.

In our opinion, now is always the right time to apply for a new role, if it is the right role!

Think long-term. 

Think activity. 

Think fun.

Think career progression.

Consider the full package – Yes, salary too.

Ask yourself, is your future in the new role/organisation?

Are you joining a business whose goals match your own?

The interview is a two-way exchange. 

Yes, we are using it to assess how you ‘fit’. 

You must do the same! 

Ask the difficult questions. 

We will.

We want to establish that all-important ‘fit’ too!

If you’re looking for a senior executive for your organisation, please use our Client Upload Form or Call Us now.

If you’re looking to find or apply for a new role, then please feel free to Upload Your CV or Call Us for an exploratory conversation.

Barron Williams

Find more articles


How do you get the most out of your recruitment agency?


How do you get the most out of your recruitment agency?

Read More

Stepping back into a senior exec role after time away


Stepping back into a senior exec role after time away

Read More

The 5 biggest challenges facing recruiters in 2024


The 5 biggest challenges facing recruiters in 2024

Read More