If the past two years have proved anything, it is how rapidly the job market can change.

When coronavirus and Brexit struck in the same year, economic uncertainty caused several unforeseen fluctuations in global economies. As a result, the job market crashed, with unemployment rates in the UK reaching the highest level in more than four years following the second wave of the crisis in November 2020.

The labour market began to show signs of recovery in 2021, even exceeding pre-pandemic levels in some areas. As a result, hiring activity has accelerated, with the ratio of job vacancies to every 100 jobs in the UK reaching a record high of 4.1 between October and December 2021.

However, despite the positive impact of low unemployment on society, businesses report difficulties filling vacancies and a shortage of workers. Still, the rate of vacancy growth has begun to slow. And although the job market is likely to be shaped by the needs of candidates for some time, it may well shift back to a client-driven market once we enter a more stable post-pandemic, post-Brexit world.

So, no matter what the future might bring, businesses need to be aware of the demands of the current job market and adapt their recruitment strategies accordingly to secure and retain the top talent.

What is the difference between a client and candidate-driven job market?

There are two types of job markets: one driven by the expectations of employees and one by the needs of employers.

In a candidate-driven market — a recruitment landscape dictated by the desires of job seekers and triggered by the surge in job vacancies — the demand for workers outstrips supply, and many vacancies may be left unfilled. So, when many people value stability over the uncertainty of changing jobs, businesses must appeal to talent with attractive, competitive job offers and actively seek out suitable candidates.

Alternatively, in a client or employer-driven market, the companies call the shots. This type of market is often the result of high levels of unemployment and surging candidate availability, offering a wider pool of candidates for employers to choose from and allowing recruiters to snap up high-quality employees for a great deal.

Overall, hiring the right person for the job in either a candidate or client-driven market comes down to the same thing: having a refined recruitment strategy. By paying close attention to job market trends, businesses can optimise their hiring methods to secure the top talent — regardless of the prevailing type of job market.

Client-driven recruitment strategies

Employers are often at an advantage when negotiating salary and job benefits in a client-driven market because candidates are less likely to be fielding multiple competitive job offers. But that does not mean recruiters and hiring managers should become complacent in a candidate-dense landscape.

Competition for the top industry talent will always remain strong, as businesses appreciate the value the right hire can add to a team. As such, recruiters should ensure they always put their best foot forward throughout the hiring and onboarding processes.

Curating clear, concise job ads is always important, but it is especially critical in an employer-driven market. Companies are likely to receive large volumes of applications for every vacancy, leading to hiring managers wasting valuable time combing through CVs to create interview shortlists. Avoiding overly general descriptions and outlining all the core qualities, competencies, and qualifications that are non-negotiable for a role throughout applications will help recruiting teams zero in on the top candidates.

Plus, since the pandemic made technology more accessible and flexible working has become the norm, recruitment has fewer geographical constraints and employers can broaden their talent search even further. However, for remote recruitment to succeed, employers must invest in high-quality software and IT systems to ensure interviews and onboarding can be conducted seamlessly online and help streamline and organise the recruitment process.

Candidate-driven recruitment strategies

Recruiters must be prepared to make swift, decisive actions to attract premium candidates in a candidate-driven recruitment landscape. Overcomplicated, lengthy interview processes can be offputting for applicants — especially since they probably have other companies vying for their attention. So, creating a simple hiring process and maintaining clear communication throughout is vital.

Passive recruitment, which involves reaching out to top candidates that are not actively searching for a new job, is a tried-and-tested recruitment method suitable for a candidate-driven market. This recruitment approach allows employers to build personal, professional relationships with potential candidates and help convince them their company is a good cultural and professional fit.

Company culture is often high on candidates’ list of priorities when changing jobs — and integral to boosting staff satisfaction and retention. So, with more people conducting business and searching for jobs online, ensuring organisations have a strong online presence that demonstrates key company values will go a long way in improving visibility and adding credibility to brands in the digital world.

It is crucial to consider market trends such as flexible hours and remote working on top of salary and benefits to make job offers that align with candidates’ expectations in a candidate-driven market. But it is also wise to exercise caution; going above and beyond for the wrong candidate can do more harm than good. Employers must understand market expectations to navigate salary and benefits negotiations and ensure job offers align with candidates’ skill levels.

When competition for the top candidates is stronger than ever, it is crucial to ensure your business’ recruitment strategy allows you to stand out from the rest. Contact us today at 01252 718777 or email farnham@howett-thorpe.co.uk to speak to one of our finance and accountancy practice recruitment specialists and discuss how we can help.