It has been a difficult few months for recruiters all over the UK as they continue to react to the ever-changing conditions of the pandemic.

In May, we saw the further easing of lockdown restrictions, and with that came heightened demand for workers. However, recent statistics show that although the need for staff has risen at a record pace, the availability of suitable candidates is decreasing. On top of this, traditional working practices have changed in the wake of necessary digitisation — as have the expectations of candidates, who call for companies to facilitate the new hybrid way of working.

So, how can recruiters and businesses work together to fulfil the demand for talent with the right people and maintain desirable levels of staff retention amidst a dwindling talent pool? It seems a change of tact may be needed when it comes to talent sourcing.

The results are in…

The latest figures from Reed and the ‘UK Report on Jobs’ survey by KPMG and REC lay out how the most recent lockdown developments and further reopening of the UK economy have impacted recruitment.

‘Permanent placements are growing at the fastest pace we’ve ever seen, and temp billings at the quickest for six years’, said Kate Shoesmith, Deputy CEO of the REC. May was a record-breaking month for the recruitment industry (and Reed’s best month for job postings since before the 2008 financial crash), with demand for workers increasing at the fastest rate for over 23 years.

However, although this may be good news for job seekers, this presents new challenges to businesses looking to hire, as the spike in demand brings the labour and skills shortages that already existed in the UK into sharper focus.

With overall candidate availability declining at the quickest rate since May 2017, companies and recruiters must now pick out top talent from a rapidly shrinking pool. Plus, both starting salaries and temp pay are expanding at a sharp rate. Coupled with a growing desire for flexibility and a more hybrid approach to working, companies are under more pressure than ever to match up to candidates’ increasing expectations if they want to attract and retain the best staff.

Actively seeking passive candidates

When the demand outstrips supply, speed is of the essence, and businesses must move quickly if they want to snap up the best candidates.

However, due to the shift from a client-driven market to a candidate-driven market, companies and recruiters must also adapt their approach to finding new talent by targeting passive candidates.

Top talent will rarely fall into your lap — particularly in a highly competitive job market. Plus, just because someone is not actively looking for a new role does not mean they are not open to discussing and learning more about new opportunities. So, it is essential to proactively search for candidates already in employment and reach out to them to capture their interest in vacant positions.

Sourcing passive candidates, rather than waiting for them to come to you, has consistently garnered highly effective hiring success rates, with candidates sourced in this way proving to be more than twice as efficient as independent applicants.

For this strategy to be effective, recruiters and businesses must make best use of the digital resources at their disposal — as well as their professional network. For example, there are a wealth of finance and accounting candidates on social media, and platforms like LinkedIn are ideal for ‘headhunting’ skilled and high-level talent.

Time to impress

Recruitment is more competitive than ever before. And now that the market has become increasingly driven by candidates and their desires, it is the employer that needs to stand out and impress.

Candidates have come to expect more from prospective employers, and not just in terms of substantial pay packets and training programmes — although these are also important to consider. After over a year of home working, many have come to enjoy a more flexible way of working and expect companies to offer it as a benefit. In fact, a recent survey found 34% of UK workers said they would resign from their current position if their employer failed to offer flexible working options.

In a climate where unsatisfied staff may be approached for — or seek out — alternative employment, employee retention is also more crucial than ever. Benefits such as flexible working can greatly improve productivity and job satisfaction, meaning staff are more likely to stay at a company.

A successful onboarding process is also a key part of retaining new hires. Companies must, therefore, perfect their onboarding process, tailoring it to suit an increasingly digital and remote working experience. However, despite operating in a virtual environment, the stream of communication between businesses, recruiters and candidates must remain a priority. Digital platforms should be utilised in harmony with traditional recruitment practices to streamline candidate selection and support a seamless onboarding experience.

As the market continues to adapt, you need expert recruitment consultants you can trust to source and secure the right candidates for your team. Contact our finance and accountancy recruitment specialists today to see how we can help.