It’s a Candidates Market – So What Do You Do?

12 October 2015

As UK Plc perks up and quality candidates become harder to find, what’s the best strategy for in-house hiring manager battling a more competitive recruitment market? Here’s my answer.

The UK is fast becoming a recruitment market where the candidates can pick and choose roles particularly in specialist areas like data and analytics, which is my area of expertise.

Consequently, it is becoming more difficult for companies to attract skilled talent and for many hiring managers who are compelled to use in-house teams or employ recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) functions, this is being made worse by out of date, inflexible methods and processes. The result? Hiring managers are not getting access to the best talent, and their companies are not able to grow as fast as they would like.

Rise of in-house teams and RPOs

The general trend over the past ten years has been for companies to attract more candidates directly and avoid agency fees. ‘Direct attraction’ models have saved businesses significant sums and will continue to do so, but they have been helped both by an excess of available candidates and the internet, which has made it easier to contact candidates directly via sites such as LinkedIn. I have carved out a career delivering these services, which have been effective in attracting good candidates, on time. But everything’s changed now that the economy is picking up.

Extraordinary market

Michael Page recently reported that “there has been an increasingly reduced response to advertising and businesses are finding that they have to go the extra mile to find the talent they need. Employers still want the best candidates”.

And in August an REC/KPMG report on the UK labour market drawing on survey data from recruitment consultancies reported that vacancies continued to rise quickly in July, the fastest since January. But staff availability fell further during the same period, with the rate of decline accelerating to the sharpest in the survey’s history. This fuelled a sharp increase in salaries during July too, only fractionally behind June’s survey-record high.

I believe this means in-house/RPO teams will have to manage more vacancies, meaning less time to be spent on each role when more time is required! The question is can in-house/RPO teams evolve their processes and methods in order to overcome these changing market conditions?

The impact

I believes that, where candidate shortages exist in-house/RPO teams will not be able to deliver as many candidates directly as they once did. Placing an advert online will no longer produce the quality AND quantity of candidates that the business needs. Hiring managers may find themselves frustrated and have to follow internal recruitment processes that don’t deliver the results they need. In these circumstances I have seen divides form between the business (i.e. the customer) and the in-house/RPO recruitment functions due to conflicting agendas. Often recruiters will have internal targets around direct attraction or keeping costs below a certain level and will refuse to look at more creative solutions to solve talent attraction issues. Recruiters can fail to understand or see the bigger picture, which can be hugely frustrating for hiring managers and detrimental to the overall business.

The answer

If you’re a hiring manager and this already sounds familiar, how do you overcome these issues? Other than having a longer-term strategy that includes growing your own talent through graduate and apprenticeship schemes, using specialist external suppliers is the best and fastest way to find and hire talent.

I like the phrase “sometimes it’s better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission”. Remember recruitment functions are there to support you. If they aren’t producing the results you need and you identify an alternative solution and have the money to pay for it, then why wait?

Building a strong relationship with a supplier who has an extensive specialist network, who deploys proactive search methodology to turn ‘passive’ candidates into ‘active’ ones will offer you key advantages over your competition. Yes, you will pay an agency fee but the cost will be insignificant in comparison to not having someone in position.

And I have always believed that direct methods alone don’t give managers attract the best candidates in the marketplace and there having a more balanced strategy is a better approach.

Bodhi recruitment has been set up to deliver these specialist recruitment services to hiring managers working in data and analytics. With over 30 years of combined recruitment experience, we know how to deliver results in areas where others struggle. Call me, and we’ll work on giving your company the edge over its competition.

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