Why the Recruitment Process is Becoming So Competitive

The recruitment process is becoming more competitive than ever, as vacancies continue to increase, and candidate pools thin out, according to the REC’s latest Report on Jobs. For recruiters and hiring managers looking for potential staff, the difficulty of finding those elusive candidates can be discouraging. If you’re facing this challenge at the moment, bear in mind that you’re not the only one.

“Candidate availability has been falling for the past four years and the record high UK employment rate plus a slowdown in the number of EU nationals coming to work here [in the UK] is exacerbating the situation, potentially leaving roles unfilled.” says REC Chief Executive, Kevin Green.

The bottom line is clear: good candidates are becoming harder to find, and this is not limited to any one specific industry. The statistics show that most sectors are facing a shortage of both temporary and permanent candidates. Vacancies are at their highest in over a decade and skilled staff are staying put. Last October marked the sharpest drop in available permanent candidates in 4 months, with nearly 42% of recruiters reporting a decline (especially in the South of England). When it comes to sourcing and retaining the best staff, the challenge is on.

recruitment process

recruitment process

But which sectors are the most competitive? What’s caused the uptake in demand? And, more importantly, just how can recruiters, hiring managers, and anyone involved in the recruitment process possibly expect to land the best talent? We’ve taken a close look at the data and spoken to some of our most experienced recruiters to find out.

Accountancy and Finance staff cash in on their skill-set

Candidates with skills in payroll, audit and risk topped the leader board for most in-demand permanent staff this October. Career paths in this area of finance offer stability, and good work/life balance. Companies who can offer the right package often find that candidates with these skills make loyal employees, and will stay loyal to the same company for a number of years. However, these same factors often make attracting candidates in this field to a new role something of a challenge.

When it comes to finding those elusive finance candidates, two things are important to succeeding in the recruitment process: Firstly, having as wide a reach as possible. Secondly, the ability to connect with potential candidates, and sell them not just a role, but a lifestyle. In this scenario, it’s essential for recruiters to be able to generate the trust of candidates, and connect to their priorities.

“It’s all about the benefits a company offers,” says Senior Lead Accountancy and Finance Consultant Jackie Pawsey, who herself works flexibly. “What they’re like to work for, whether or not they offer a good work/life balance. Part-time is on the up as well. People want to be able to do the school runs and be there for their family.”

In second place with silver prize for sector with highest staff demand was IT & Computing. Aware of this, employers are doing everything possible to hold on to existing employees. “We have seen packages get better and better with anything from free food all day to flexi-time and working from home” says Senior IT Consultant Simon Morris. “This all said, IT talent, in particular Developers, don’t tend to go on the open market, so a recruiters network is vital. We advertise extensively to give a wide reach but I also have a personal network of around 2000 people, which reaches much further. Recommendations are also important, provide an excellent service and good people talk.”

The third sector with the highest demand for permanent staff is Engineering, followed by Executive/Professional, Secretarial, Blue Collar (or Industrial), Nursing/Medical Care, Hotel & Catering and last but not least, Construction.

Unsurprisingly, the number of permanent appointments made by recruiters in September grew at the slowest rate since April. However, the total number has continued grow, marking the 14th month in an upwards incline.

Temporary industrial staff in higher demand than ever

As for temporary workers, industrial, or “blue collar” workers are the most in demand. Green says “Low-skill roles are also hard to fill in areas like food processing, warehouses and catering – sectors that employ a higher proportion of people from the EU than others across the country.” When it comes to recruiting industrial temporary workers, knowing the best methods to reach your demographic is key. Depending on your audience, this may mean using traditional, offline marketing methods, or going down the social media marketing route.

However, when it comes to attracting jobseekers for factory and warehouse roles, good old word-of-mouth often wins out as the best tactic. At Prime Appointments, our Industrial desk is our largest Division, and has been recruiting temporary staff for 25 years. Over time, we’ve been able to build up a reputation in the local community and build trust. “We’ve got that history of helping people.” Sales Director of our Industrial Division Colin Trenfield says. We find the same applies when it comes to recruiting temporary Health and Social Care Staff, who are also in high demand.

After Industrial, Nursing/Medical Care had the highest demand for temporary workers, followed by Hotel and Catering, Accountancy and Finance, Secretarial/Clerical, IT and Computing, Engineering, Executive/Professional, and Construction.

Invest in your candidates

When it comes to winning the best talent, recruitment agencies who nurture both their successful and unsuccessful applicants are set to have the edge. As Global Head of Resourcing at Lloyd’s Register Gregory Allen says, “Candidate experience will soon become the differentiator.” After all, just because a candidate isn’t right for one particular job does not mean to say they won’t be perfect for something else. This is where taking the time to respond to unsuccessful candidates who may be suitable later on down the line can really pay dividends.

At Prime Appointments, we use a traffic light system to ensure no one gets left behind in the recruitment process. Candidates who are a good fit for the particular role they’ve applied for with us get a “green letter” email. This lets them know they’ve been shortlisted for that particular vacancy.

Many of our candidates have relevant skills but aren’t suitable for the role they’ve applied for. To these, we send a “yellow letter”, letting them know that we’d like to stay in touch. This gives us a chance to get to know our candidates, and gain their trust. It’s from this pool that we often find some of our best fits for current and future vacancies, where we least expect them.

How recruiters will meet the challenge

In summary, there’s no doubt that competition is getting tighter. Employment levels are higher than ever, and recruiters need a substantial network to fish out the right permanent candidates. With temporary, lower-skilled workers becoming increasingly selective as well, the successful recruitment requires more time, experience and resources than ever before. Every recruitment agency and human resource department will have their own methods of approaching this task, and some tactics will work better for certain sectors than others.

Over the past 25 years, we’ve weathered immense changes in the job market, from the recession of the early 90s to the more recent fallout in 2008. Throughout, we’ve seen first-hand evidence of the fact that Gregory Allen highlights: the most important factor in the recruitment process is and will continue to be, the ability to connect with, prioritise and value your candidates. Going forward, we predict the ability to put this sentiment into practice will be what determines the success of anyone undertaking the challenge.