07 Oct 2021

Recruitment Trends and Skills Shortages....

Having trouble recruiting? You’re clearly not alone. Skills and labour shortages are affecting diverse industries across the United Kingdom, from transport and logistics through to agriculture, retail, hospitality, nursing and care. Just this morning I read a stark warning from the makers of Christmas favourite Quality Street that they too are experiencing labour shortages (and other supply chain difficulties) which might mean that products fail to hit the shelves this December. And even if Father Christmas manages to make his rounds this year, there’s a likelihood that not even the very best-behaved children will get exactly what they’d been hoping for, or that Rudolph will get his carrots…

 

“But what’s that got to do with me, apart from managing expectations for a different Christmas?” you ask. After all, the membership sector, and the majority of jobs we’re all recruiting for will be desk-or-office based, requiring a completely different skill set to the industries mentioned above. Well, the problems faced by other industries highlight the fact that there are simply too many vacancies out there: it’s a candidate-driven market, and job-seeker behaviours are changing.

 

According to a recent British Chambers of Commerce survey, more than 70% of businesses are struggling to recruit and expect their recruitment woes to continue into 2022. Reed, one of the leading high street recruiters which used to boast more than 2.5 million candidates on its books, now has fewer than one quarter of these, and admitted to me that they’ve never seen anything like it. And nobody seems to know exactly why this is the case. There’s a combination of factors including Brexit (sorry Boris, but it’s true), general labour shortages and pandemic insecurities – but the end of the furlough scheme hasn’t yet delivered the much-hoped for glut of candidates, ripe for an autumn harvest.

 

Candidates are picking and choosing which jobs they go for, cancelling interviews at the last minute (or simply failing to turn up), turning down offers or changing their minds. In recent weeks of recruitment, I’ve experienced all of the above – and I suspect many of you will also have similar stories.

 

I recently provided outplacement services to an excellent Membership Manager who had been made redundant from their previous organisation. Within a week of starting to apply for jobs they had received 5 interviews from different organisations, and a job offer at a higher level! The reality is that good candidates are not hanging around for long in this market.

 

We recently joined forces with the CBI to look at the last 18 months and how it has affected professional bodies, trade associations and the membership sector more generally. More than 200 different organisations (including a record 141 respondents from Memcom’s networks) took part, and of these 77% are adopting a growth strategy for 2022 which will involve recruiting new staff. If you haven’t already received a copy, contact me here – it’s a pretty interesting read!

 

Hopefully you know by now that one of Memcom’s acknowledged fortes is specialist recruitment and retention for the membership sector – and as the first such specialists (going back more than 20 years) we still lead the way. Through our combined networks, workstreams and recruitment activities, we’re well placed to offer insight into some of these areas which might help your organisation’s planned growth.

 

There are a number of different ways you can maximise your chances of successful recruitment, even in a crowded marketplace – and I’ve listed a few top tips for you to consider…

 

Now is the time to think about your employer brand and profile, as well as the flexibility and the staff benefits you offer. Our research and activities provide anecdotal evidence that team members who have enjoyed working from home don’t want to go back to the office more than is absolutely necessary, and the number one question asked by candidates is whether or not they can be homebased.

 

Employers moving towards a longer-term homeworking trend are perceived as being more modern and flexible, a quality which now appears to be prized higher than salary. Remember that in a market where the candidate is king, there is always an employer out there willing to match candidate expectations…

 

I’ve said it before, but ensure that your job descriptions are clear and concise and translate easily to a wide audience. Use language that someone coming from outside of your sector can clearly understand, rather than sector-specific, acronym-heavy jargon which means nothing outside of your organisation.

 

Write eye-catching adverts. Memcom partners with recruitment and media advertising specialists

Matrix Media Services Group to post the right adverts in the most appropriate media. Advertising the same vacancy in the wrong media can be a costly affair, so don’t throw away money unnecessarily – and never repeat the same adverts again and again…

 

Perhaps it’s time to think more creatively about how to recruit? Spending the time upfront to re-write job descriptions can save so much time, money and effort. Think about what you really need in a candidate, rather than putting up barriers in a person specification. And ditch those application forms you’ve been using since the 1830s: the real world doesn’t work like that any more…

 

Salary becomes more important than ever in a candidate-shortage market, so benchmark your salaries to ensure you’re paying enough to attract (and retain) the right candidates. Remember that in a candidate market, staff loyalty also appears to be more transient, and your best employees can easily take calls from head-hunters or attend virtual interviews at almost any time of the day.

 

Finally, the need for speed is crucial, since good candidates end up with several job offers within days of entering the market. Remind your managers that they might need to be flexible about interview times – easily done, via Zoom or MS Teams.

 

Successful recruitment is an art form. It’s what I specialise in. I’m happy to share more tips if you want to get in touch – [email protected]