In the current UK Jobs Market do candidates hold all the power?

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There’s been a lot of national media coverage recently on the growth in the UK Jobs Market and a scarcity of candidates as organisations look to hire post-pandemic.

The KPMG REC Monthly Report on the UK Jobs Market is based on current input from recruitment firms operating across all levels, sectors and disciplines and it is clear that there’s intense competition for people right now.

In their April report, Claire Warnes, Head of Education, Skills and Productivity at KPMG UK, stated: 

“Yet again in April, recruitment challenges abound in every region and every sector of the economy. Employers continue to be relentlessly challenged by attracting and retaining talent, rising costs due to inflation, as well as supply chain pressures. Skills and employment are a key pillar of “levelling up”, yet the recruitment data shows that a one size fits all approach is unlikely to succeed.”

Whilst Neil Carberry, Chief Executive of the REC, added: 

“The labour market has been tightening for months on end, driving near-record growth in starting salaries for new staff. With vacancy numbers also historically high, this is a great time to be looking for a job – and a pay rise to help meet the rising cost of living. The number of job placements being made is still growing, but at a more stable rate. Growth is now at its lowest level for a year. This is no surprise, given how hot the market has been. Employers need to get their offer to candidates right if they are going to succeed in this market. Enhancing diversity and inclusion, and effective early career hiring are also important elements of a winning approach – consulting a recruitment expert can help with all of this.”

In terms of the official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the latest UK report shows that:

“The total job vacancies increased further over the first quarter of 2022. At 1,288,000, the number of open positions rose from 1,238,000 over the final quarter of 2021, and was the highest seen since the series began in 2001.”

UK Job Vacancies from the ONS
Source: Office for National Statistics.

In terms of candidate availability, the report highlights that we are seeing a “further reduction in overall candidate availability” and that “the availability of candidates for permanent roles declined for the fifteenth successive month in April”. 

Demand is clearly outstripping supply!

As a REC Corporate member, Barron Williams supplies our data and, although we wouldn’t claim to represent the industry, as a whole, our experience is similar to many across our industry.

Our experience of the current UK Jobs Market

The UK Jobs Market has certainly recovered post-Brexit/post-Covid and is continuing to grow as organisations seek to fill the gaps tolerated during the pandemic.

We are clearly seeing organisations returning to a more proactive, growth-related recruitment strategy, as well as the need to react to their own natural employee turnover as people move on to progress their careers elsewhere.

There is most definitely positivity in the recruitment sector after a challenging couple of years. 

Like many firms, we were hit with an immediate fall in demand in March 2020, and it is only recently that we’ve returned to what we would consider normal trading.

Yes, it was tough, but we’ve spoken to many clients and candidates who had it far tougher to feel too sorry for ourselves. 

The recent increase in demand is much welcomed of course, and we’ve been working with a mix of new and existing clients on a variety of roles across an interesting array of sectors.

Generally speaking, we’ve been able to attract interest from applicants both actively and passively in the market, with the calibre and quality of candidates extremely high. 

A positive legacy of Covid is the availability of people seeking the right role as the market ‘re-emerges’ and actively looking for their next move after choosing job stability and security in those unprecedented recent times.

So far, so good?

Well, not exactly… We don’t like to focus on the negative but sometimes we have to address the elephants in the room, so to speak.

Whilst we’ve continued to find, attract and deliver great candidates for our clients, it has not been easy.

Uncertainty in the UK economy is, of course, cause for concern for many we speak to.

Great candidates have also been much scarcer, therefore longlists are typically shorter, but not always.  

Obviously, we don’t compromise. We will only include suitable candidates on our longlists.

However, as the monthly UK Jobs Market reports tell us, we must stress to our clients that candidate availability is challenging, so we must take steps to mitigate risk and impact.

We’ve always said that candidates have a “shelf-life”, and we work hard to keep our recruitment processes moving. 

However, “you snooze, you lose”, and in 2022, we’re seeing this trend amplified. 

Active candidates are increasingly involved in multiple, simultaneous recruitment processes. Even passive search prospects, once engaged, are naturally more receptive to other opportunities.

This is a real issue. We’ve only recently lost some great candidates to another process. And whilst we 100% respect our candidate’s right to choose the best role for them, it is disappointing when we lose our client’s option on them. Especially at the 11th hour.

To mitigate this, we push our clients politely but firmly to be available quickly to interview those we feel they should. 

Exec diaries are always tight but what’s more important than hiring the best people for your team?

A recent situation saw us present 3 candidates for final consideration after initial interviews. All 3 were at similar stages for other roles.

Fortunately, our client’s preferred candidate also preferred our role, so we had a happy ending. However, it’s interesting to note that the other 2 shortlisted candidates accepted other offers within days of their interviews with our client.

The moral of the story is that good people are in demand and time is ticking!

How to attract the best people

We are unquestionably in the midst of a “war for talent” (a term much used on this blog) and the best way to give your company a strategic advantage is to have Barron Williams go into bat for you.

Your hiring process needs to be thorough and fast and we can ensure that you’re hiring the right people. How?

  • We know the market
    Our approach and processes are individually tailored to attract the best people.
  • We know the audience
    People are attracted to roles for a number of different reasons, putting the right people in the right roles/organisations is what we do.
  • We know our candidates
    From career goals to what package and benefits they’re looking for, we can help you customise your offer to match their needs. It’s not always about the money!
  • We know how to sell your role to people
    Putting out the right (consistent) information to attract candidates is critical in differentiating you from the competition.
  • We know how to spot talent early
    Finding talented people means tracking shifting demographics. The Finance Manager of today could be the CFO of the future.
  • We know what’s important
    We know what appeals to the modern exec and we are experts on matching motivations as well as experience and capability.
  • We know how to differentiate
    We understand your USP’s as an employer and present that to the right people.
  • We know how to cast the net wider
    We identify, approach and attract people you want to consider.

And whilst we can help you find the best talent, retention is also critical. That is why we endeavour to present you with people most likely to stay with you for the long term.

So, do candidates hold the power in the current UK Jobs Market?

Yes and no is the honest answer.

Yes, in that demand is higher and good candidates can consider more opportunities now than they’ve been able to in the last two years.

However, with power comes responsibility…

Candidates must work with the recruiter or hiring manager to assess a mutual fit for the role and company.

If you’re pursuing multiple opportunities, then please keep people informed to keep your options open so that you to make the right choice at the right time.

From our perspective, we will react quickly to client instructions on selection and work tirelessly to keep the process moving swiftly.

All we ask of all parties is to be flexible for Teams and F2F interviews as it will help us all to keep the process moving.

We’re always happy to discuss the role and client in as much detail as we can to help a candidate make that right choice. 

In return, we simply ask that they’re honest and open until hired or we agree on when to stop.

For clients, our advice is simple, if you’re thinking of recruiting, then please get in touch. Now.

Don’t defer because the market is tough. There are talented people out there, we just need to offer them the right opportunity – your opportunity – in the right way and without delay.

The best potential candidates might be a little harder to find and persuade but that’s what we do. And when we find them, work with us to secure them. Make yourself available to interview then make a quick decision.

The speed of the selection process really is a key differentiator right now!

If you want to win and hire the best people, then please use our Client Upload Form or call us today.

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

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