Posted: 8 Mar 2017
The first article in our new quarterly Industry Insight series. Here our MD Paul Carr shares his thoughts on how things are faring in the first few months of 2017…
The recruitment sector has suffered a particularly torrid time over the past few months, driven by the uncertainty created after last year’s Brexit vote followed by the results of the US election in November. Even in the UK shockwaves were felt from across the pond, compounding a nervousness among both candidates and clients – particularly in the marketing sector, where fewer candidates felt willing to ‘risk’ jumping into a new role, resulting in fewer vacancies overall. This means it has become more of a candidates’ market, as those who are prepared to take that perceived risk can often afford to be more selective about the roles they make a move for.
Within marketing as a discipline it's particularly the services sectors that seem to be suffering such a pronounced downturn. That’s pretty unsurprising, considering that recruitment in this area centres on the proliferation of offshore-owned financial institutions and services businesses, all of whom could be considering where to base themselves in a post-Brexit Europe. It’s not easy for you to recruit when your parent business has yet to determine whether or not to remain in the UK! All of which leads to a stalling of movement within your employee base; where vacancies do arise within a business, then the likelihood is that you'll be looking for a freelancer or short-term option to fill the gap.
It's a candidate-driven market and good candidates can afford to be choosey about the roles they apply for and accept. But that shouldn't suggest that anything less than the best-prepared candidates would be good enough for the best roles; while the boot is on the candidate's foot, then our clients are still looking for the very best talent out there. Those who are prepared to put effort into researching the role – and the business to which they're applying – are still going to resonate most positively.
Sure, in the wider market more candidates might get through to interview stage; but even then it's still only the most skilled, qualified and motivated who will be offered the position. That’s why at Stopgap, our philosophy is to work with candidates to ensure they have the required skill-set and approach for suitable roles before we present them.
And after our candidates get the job, we like to acknowledge a job well done. That’s why this year, we’re partnering with the CIM by sponsoring the Marketer of the Year category at the 2017 CIM Marketing Excellence Awards. We want to reward the innovation of our candidates and recognize the high standards of quality and integrity that are vital for marketers like yourselves to be successful.
It’s very clear that recruitment timescales are getting longer, as companies extend their processes in order to get the very best ‘fit’. But clients need to be aware of how they are perceived by potential candidates, if they wish to attract the cream of the crop. Presenting a picture of the business as a whole – from your proposition to your career site and your company culture – can make a big difference. It's all about employer branding; you need to sell the opportunity, just as candidates have to sell themselves.
Another positive step clients can make is working with a recruitment agency like us. We can help them present the most positive and appropriate image of the business to candidates, not only to help attract top talent, but retain it, too. Of course, we can only do so much – clients need to be confident in their own decision making to get the perfect candidate on board. The old adage that time is money still rings true; in fact, a recent survey found that 66% of recruiters have lost “significant” sums of cash over bad hiring decisions. Nearly one in five (19.5%) of those confessed that a poor hire had cost their business between £15,000-£30,000!
Nervousness can be pervasive – and encouraging great people to make a career move in these uncertain times takes effort and creativity. While in the past, companies could often attract applicants (particularly marketers) purely on the strength of their brand name(s), in today's market it's more important for a company to present themselves as a lifestyle choice for candidates.
Today’s candidates want to know how their life, as well as their career, would benefit from a role at said company. And I’m not just talking about benefits; it’s also to do with selling the company ethos and lifestyle. How do people interact on a daily basis? Where do they sit and take their breaks? Do bosses hold regular out-of-office days? Are there flexible working opportunities? Again, it all comes down to your employer brand; other research suggests that 84% of employees would consider leaving their current employer for a company that had an excellent reputation. So, the stronger your employer brand, the more attractive you are to candidates, and the less you’ll have to spend on recruitment and staff turnover in the long-run.
At Stopgap, we make sure that we understand our clients and our candidates. Wherever possible we try to meet all of you face-to-face, so that we can align your aspirations with reality; if we can't meet you for some reason or other, we’ll have an in-depth chat over the phone. This means we really get to know you as our clients and candidates; your business requirements or career goals; your brand image or personality; your likes and dislikes; and of course, your wants and needs.
And it’s because we focus so much of our time and energy on getting to know you - our clients and candidates - that we’re so skilled at efficiently and effectively creating perfect pairings. The relationships between employers and employees are so important for any happy and profitable partnership. That's our job, and it’s what we love to do.