Hiring in a Candidate Short Market


How can you move quickly to ensure the best talent is secured


Since 2012, the hiring process has become a completely different ball game; the days of businesses having their pick of candidates are a distant memory, forcing companies to move quickly if they want to ensure the best talent is secured.

This phenomenon is particularly apparent at the mid-level as a shortage of good, moderately experienced people is becoming seemingly apparent. The cause of this shift can be explained by the simple fact that we are now dealing with a smaller pool of candidates due to less hiring occurring between 2008-2012.

This isn’t an industry-specific problem; every firm I speak to is finding it difficult at the moment for different reasons. Start-ups say they’re struggling to hire because of money and the ability to attract people, whereas banks don’t have a problem with money but rather the hours, environment or culture.

Private equity firms struggle to hire because of the weakened calibre coming out of the banks, whereas competitive markets like PR may find it hard because all of their competitors are hiring too.

Candidates increasingly know their value, so what does this mean for businesses? This is where creative hiring comes into play – with tales of candidates being lured by competitors, often businesses can feel like they have a lack of control in the hiring process.

My advice in this situation is for companies to go back to the start and undergo some self-reflection to identify who you are looking for and why you aren’t securing them. Are you not securing top candidates because you’re a smaller business competing with bigger names in the business? Is your business struggling to compete on money? It’s time to examine what other strengths you‘ve got – if it’s not money, is it your brand name, training or exposure? Could you offer a more hands-on role or faster internal progression? You want to diagnose your strengths and identify the reasons candidates are turning down your offers, then you can identify what your competitive edge is.

According to our Gen Z report, graduates place far more importance on career progression, training and brand name than they did on location and salary. Leveraging these strengths will make a positive impact on your hiring process.

So how else can you hire creatively? One of the most obvious solutions that people have is that if you can’t hire laterally, take a longer-term approach to things. Hire from the bottom and be patient while training your staff up – that in turn has meant that competition for graduates has increased as well.

The hiring process is also a great area in which to implement some creative changes. Introducing a more flexible approach to recruitment will facilitate lateral thinking. Can you compromise on the person in terms of calibre, do you compromise on the institution candidates are coming from and the experience they’ve had? For example, say you want modelling and analytical skills; if you can’t get the modelling skills, it may be worth looking for the analytical skills from another industry and exploring whether you can teach the modelling skills that the position requires.

Broadening your search can also help; for example, at a graduate level if you traditionally hire people with straight As from Oxbridge you may also want to look at broadening it out to include people who went to LSE and Imperial. Whereas, at the experienced level, you could broaden out your search to look at people from other companies that you may have not considered before. Are there people available separate to your direct competitors that could have a relevant skill set?

It may also be worth examining the length of your hiring process, as candidates may be leaving simply because your recruitment process is taking too long. With candidates now positioned as a hot commodity, your competitors will snap up the best talent if they are left lingering during the interim of your hiring process.

The individuals involved in your hiring process may also be making a huge impact to your success in acquiring the employees you want. Is someone in your interview process putting people off? Perhaps they’re being too aggressive or too hard during the interview, or not selling the job or firm correctly. These things are particularly relevant if you find yourself asking, “why can’t we get people” when you are successfully getting people through the door.

Although a competitive market may fill you with dread and despair, with increased demand comes increased confidence. This is an optimistic time for candidates, which means people are more confident around making a move. With change comes innovation, so if you’re prepared to act quickly and think outside the box in terms of your hiring, this market represents an exciting time for change, representing the possibility to secure new talent – it’s just a case of who can make it off the starting blocks first.

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