Cast your mind back a few months and you’ll probably
recall the expectation that the UK was moving into an employer-led recruitment market,
with high numbers of (sometimes over-qualified) people chasing very few jobs. But
it’s moved in a different direction. We had seen the signs early on in 2021; even
then we’d identified that some sectors were struggling to find the calibre of
candidate they needed.
But that situation is now affecting virtually every
sector across the UK and it’s borne out almost daily in the conversations we’re
having with the companies who are now turning to us for help. The number
of vacancies is outweighing the number of people
searching for employment. As a result, the market is highly competitive with companies
battling to attract and recruit the best candidates out there. Many employers are surprised to discover they
are not getting anywhere near the number of applications they would have done a
year or two ago. And it’s not simply about the number of applications being
received either; it’s about the candidate quality too. So where does that leave
you if you are an employer in that situation? There are a number of things you can
do to make sure your job opportunities are being seen by and attracting the
1. Review the salary and package
you’re offering, and make sure it’s advertised
At the moment salaries in general are on the
increase. The latest
ONS figures estimate growth in average total pay
(including bonuses) and regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 5.6% for February
to April 2021. It’s estimated there was an 8.4% total pay and 7.3% regular pay growth
rate in April this year relative to April 2020.
There are several variables at play. April 2020 was
of course the first full month where the pandemic was being felt in terms of
earnings, so that’s had an impact on the relative growth rate. Some of the
issue is also connected to Brexit; estimates vary but most seem to indicate
that over a million foreign nationals left the UK in the space of a year. And
inevitably a shrinking pool of labour has an impact on salary rates.
Employers need to review what they are offering when
it comes to both salary and package so they have something that attracts the
best candidates out there. And most importantly, employers need to make sure the
salary and package are stated clearly on the job advert. On average, online job
adverts that include salary information receive 41% more applications compared
to job adverts without any salary indication. If you don’t
include a salary in your job advert you run the risk of potentially eliminating
a lot of candidates, as it’s a vital piece of information they want to know
before even applying for the role.
2. Articulate your employer brand
Put yourself in the candidates’ shoes for a moment.
If you were applying for a vacancy, what would attract you? Would it be the advert
that says ‘Our client is looking for…’ or would it be the one that told you who
the company was? In most cases, people want to know who it is they are applying
to and what it is the company stands for. The impact of your employer
brand is significant. People don’t just apply to do a specific
job; they apply because they are also attracted to the prospect of being part
of a particular company with a particular culture. Unless there are specific
reasons why you can’t, we would always advise a company to be up front about who
it is candidates are applying to.
3. Be honest with yourself about
what’s genuinely essential
When an employer is about to advertise a vacancy,
they must identify the requirements for that role. And it’s surprisingly easy
for the list of essential requirements to drift by not just focusing on what is
genuinely key but by starting to stray into a wish list of what else the
candidate will have to offer in an ideal world. And unfortunately, that will
screen more people out for no valid reason. Employers must challenge themselves
when it comes to pinning down the essential requirements and be honest about what’s
really vital and what isn’t. It’s not about lowering standards; it’s about casting
the net as widely as possible to include anyone who could ultimately turn out
to be a great prospect.
4. Highlight flexible working
Many of today’s candidates are looking for positions
that offer a degree of flexibility. That might be in the form of greater
flexibility over their location or it might be connected to the hours they
The more flexible you can be as an employer, the greater
the number of people who’ll be attracted to your vacancy and who will be able
to consider themselves for it. If you are in a position to offer flexibility
then make sure you’re promoting that clearly in your job advert and throughout all
other related communications. Not only will it increase the chances of finding
the ideal candidate; a more flexible approach can support workplace diversity
too. And the flexibility of your opportunity could be the
deciding factor between a candidate accepting your role over another employer’s
5. Get the job title right
Do job titles really matter? An unequivocal yes. The
job title is highly likely to be the first thing that catches a prospective
applicant’s eye. It’s the hook that will draw them in to clicking through and
reading the advert. So it must resonate with them.
Titles need to be pitched to reflect the external
market, giving candidates a realistic feel for what the role is and the level
at which candidates will need to operate. There’s no place for company specific
jargon here. If the title is vague or misleading, the wrong people will immediately
screen themselves out and the wrong candidates may well count themselves in too.
You want as many suitable candidates as possible to be curious and take a look,
even those who might not be actively hunting. Make sure the right keywords are
in there too so the job adverts will be found by suitable applicants on the job
boards and job alert emails.
6. Get your job advert in front of
the right people
Your advert needs to be seen by as many suitable
candidates as possible. That requires getting it out to as many relevant places
as you can to ensure the vacancy gets extensive exposure. With so many job
boards out there it can be time consuming (we use a network of over
leading regional and specialist sites) but it’s time well invested as it will substantially
increase the chances of you finding the right candidates.
7. Deal promptly with applications
The moment a candidate submits their application to
you, they’ll be hoping for feedback sooner rather than later. Be respectful
towards them by reviewing their applications promptly and getting back to them
quickly. Create a good impression of yourself as a considerate employer who
doesn’t want to leave them hanging on.
It’s very much in your best interests to deal
quickly with applications. Those candidates are likely to be applying for other
vacancies too. If you take your time before you start to review the
applications, or before you contact candidates you have shortlisted, you are at
serious risk of losing them. The jobs market is moving so fast that if you are
slow to respond, the chances are another employer will snap them up in the
meantime. At the moment, candidates are not short of options and employers need
to react accordingly.
Do you need support with attracting the best
candidates for your roles?
We offer specialist support
to companies seeking to attract the perfect candidate in this competitive
marketplace. From writing a stand-out job advert to increasing its exposure and
assessing the applications that follow, we can support your organisation with finding
the talent you need. We can even provide you with a part or fully managed recruitment
campaign, lifting all aspects of the administrative and
co-ordination burden off your shoulders and enabling you to fully concentrate
on the selection stage.
Please contact us
if you’d like to learn more about our extensive range of cost-effective job
advertising and recruitment support services.