How to deal with the skills shortage: Our Top Tips for Employers
It’s definitely a candidate’s market at the moment. The UK jobs market has reached a point where vacancies outnumber available talent and as a result, employers often need to take drastic steps to secure the very best individuals.
Candidates know this and can afford to be selective over the roles they apply for. It’s an attitude that certainly doesn’t help those in niche or hard-to-fill industries.
The current situation
Findings from the LinkedIn 2016 Global Recruiting survey reveal almost half of recruiters state their biggest obstacles to attracting top talent are simply finding candidates for the high-demand jobs. This is narrowly followed by compensation and competition. The most important factor, unsurprisingly, is quality of hire (according to ACAS, it costs £5,000 to hire a new member of staff while HR Review put that figure as high as £30,614), and getting it right first time has never been more important.
As things stand, there have been increases in permanent vacancies, however, availability of permanent staff has dropped (as per the REC Report on Jobs, February 2016), which causes quite a headache for employers with a number of vacancies on their hands.
So what can employers do to help the situation?
Don’t be fooled into thinking recruitment is a lost cause. There are many tactics that employers can use to improve their situation and attract high calibre staff appointed to those difficult roles. Here are our suggestions:
- Increase your brand awareness
To compete with the big names for talent, you must ensure people have heard the best things about you. Brand awareness is a critical attraction tool, so do more on social media, sponsor a local sports team, hold a networking event or become a “Great Place to Work”. Increase your external PR and it could do wonders.
Jamie Wall, our Market Research and Insight Consultant –stresses: “Make sure your brand is consistent- check your website, social media, etc. is up to date and represents your company in the right light.” There’s nothing worse than directing traffic to your site only for it to be outdated and lacking interest, as this will actually put the best people off applying to you.
- It’s (not) all about the money
Naturally, a competitive salary is a big draw, but there are many other benefits that are valued even more highly, as Samantha Judd, Director at Boyce Recruitment, explains.
“Money is an important element of why we work but other compensation and benefit factors are often cited by our applicants as something they value. Flexible work arrangements to fit around family life, for example.
“Other benefits that can be considered in a compensation package are private medical and dental insurance, extra holidays, sabbaticals and group purchasing power for activities including travel, etc. In London and other cities, where rent and property prices are notably high, allowances to help people travel in from the outskirts would be welcomed and/or loans to help employees with rental deposits would all be valued.”
- Take on more temps
Temporary Agency Workers not only provide the solution to peaks and troughs in workloads, they can cover skills gaps quickly and lessen the burden on permanent staff while the hire takes place. Manuela Boyce, Director of Boyce Recruitment, comments: “Many of our clients have increased the number of temp/ freelancers they are hiring to help them in the short term and buy them time to find the right long term skills. They are also on occasion, more flexible about the skills they require.”
“Ironically, often these are turning into a permanent job offer. At the very least, their existing staff feel supported whilst they have some breathing space to help them make the right decision for a permanent hire.”
- Evaluate, review and improve your processes to ensure a positive candidate experience.
From the very start of the application process you should manage your job seekers expectations well. You should continue to do this throughout interview and selection period, and at offer or rejection stage. The application process should be easy and short and your responses at every stage of the process should be swift.
A positive candidate experience can make or break the applicants’ view of your company and would certainly influence their decision to accept an offer of employment. In the event of an applicant being unsuccessful, you should always provide an explanation as to why they have not made the shortlist. Treating job seekers with respect will help keep your reputation intact and they may end up being suitable for a role that crops up later on.
- Don’t look for perfection
There are times when you’re just not going to find exactly the person you have envisaged, but in these instances, it can actually be better to find someone that you like, who will fit with the team and who can be developed.
“[Employers should] consider taking on someone with lesser skills but who are outstanding in other areas, someone they can train into the role,” Manuela Boyce explains. “This would be far better than having a job open for 6 months, and “growing your own” often means they will end up working the way you want.”
- Get advice from a trusted recruitment partner
One of the most effective ways to deal with skills shortages is to partner with a recruitment agency – preferably one which is industry-specific. In addition to a pool of available talent and the ability to headhunt some real stars, recruitment consultants can offer support and guidance on the advertising process while providing honest feedback.
“Use their Recruitment partners for market advice, to get a proper understanding of the market and what is available BEFORE confirming the specifics of the job,” Manuela urges. “They are invaluable as they give good insight into what is around and available.”
- Don’t expect miracles over night
Going back to LinkedIn’s findings, there is a correlation between time to hire and quality of hire; the quicker you fill the vacancy, the lower the quality of candidate – which makes perfect sense. Taking time allows employers to find someone who more closely matches the essential requirements. And whilst you’re waiting, get a temp in – you never know, they just might be your ideal candidate.
- Don’t knock working with a good recruitment company
We’re bound to say this but that’s because we believe it. A good recruiter will give you access to a network of candidates that you would not otherwise have access to. They spend years building up their contacts and don’t just rely on job boards or other resources that your in-house teams or managers might be using. They are passionate about the industry and they know how to sell your business well.
- Maybe the key is simply to concentrate on retention?
Retaining crucial staff means not having to replace them; so it makes sense to nurture them. Jamie Wall elaborates: “In such a competitive/ candidate short market, particularly in the industry I work in (market research), employers should ensure they look after and reward their staff. By this I mean regular pay reviews, recognition for good work, strong company benefits and variety in clients and projects (where possible).”
Creating a strong, happy company culture, focusing on career development and increasing brand reputation are equally important, money is rarely the reason why people resign from a job – it’s lack of opportunity or poor management that can prompt most people to go.
The market might be candidate-led and they may well be choosy about the roles they apply for, but using the tips mentioned above really could help position you as an attractive proposition.
If you’re looking for a trusted recruitment partner to help you with your hiring, then please get in touch – we’d be happy to advise you.