JVP Group’s Managing Director Alan Townsend shares his thoughts in relation to the latest vacancies figures released by the Office for National Statistics.
Understanding the picture of exactly what is happening in the UK recruitment market right now is challenging. June’s ONS figures reveal that between March and May 2023 the estimated number of vacancies fell by 79,000 to 1,051,000. While the number of vacancies is falling, the overall level continues to be high. Just before the pandemic hit, vacancies stood at around three quarters of a million. The pandemic certainly distorted the market, but why is the level still so high? Is it that people currently not in work are not actually looking for work… or is it more complex?
When you investigate the detail behind the headline numbers, the answer isn’t as simple as it might superficially seem. There are undoubtedly several factors at play that mean filling these vacancies is proving a real headache for many employers There are certainly some sectors, such as hospitality, that are continuing to face substantial challenges when it comes to recruitment. Research last year from the Institute for Fiscal Studies points to a growing number of economically inactive people in their 50s and 60s (the number had increased by nearly 250,000 between 2019 and 2022). But one of the most significant issues that’s continuing to have a major impact is candidate expectations.
The expectations mismatch
As anyone who has been recruiting for even just for one vacancy in the current market will know, there is a real challenge matching the requirements of the employer to the capabilities and expectations of a jobseeker. What we have in the UK at the moment is a massive mismatch between employer needs and jobseeker expectations - and this issue is not going away any time soon.
The word expectations is absolutely critical here as it captures the fact that jobseekers want roles that:
- are in a specific location
- are at an expected salary level
- allow for flexible working
- provide opportunities to learn and develop
- offer sociable hours
This means that while the skill set is often available, there frequently isn’t the will or desire from jobseekers to settle, as they see it, for any job that doesn’t meet their expectations.
So what can employers do?
At JVP Group we have some advice to help make a difference to your recruitment processes:
- Don’t advertise using a lengthy, detailed job description. Create a job advert that becomes a piece of marketing for your business.
- Remember how people read information online. All of your job marketing must be concise and easily digestible. If potential applicants cannot pull out the main points, and quickly become engaged by what they’re seeing, they will move on to the next opportunity straight away.
- Think about transferable skills and training when creating the job advert. By carefully identifying the skills that are genuinely essential and the skills that could be developed on the job, you will reach a wider talent pool as a result.
- If you can accommodate flexible working of any type, include that message prominently in the job advert. Flexible working remains the most common job search term in 2023.
- Wherever possible, advertise the salary (and for lower paid roles, be mindful of minimum wage legislation).
- Employees are more benefit-conscious than ever. So think about what you currently offer and make sure that’s being clearly articulated to jobseekers - benefits have the potential to be a really attractive selling point on your job advert. Consider whether there are any additional benefits you could include that are both affordable for the company and that could be particularly appealing to candidates.