· 2 min read · Features

Budget optimism moves candidate-driven market closer


The 2014 Budget has provided evidence of a significant economic upturn and points to the candidate-driven jobs market making a comeback.

Growth prospects upgraded from 2.4% to 2.7% add weight to findings from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG, which concluded that:

  • Job vacancies have increased at their fastest pace since July 1998;
  • Permanent salary growth is at a six-year high;
  • Permanent job salaries are rising at the fastest pace in six years; and,
  • The number of candidates available to fill permanent, temporary and contract jobs fell sharply in the third quarter of 2013.

Taken together, these are clear indicators to recruiters that they should sit up and take notice. They flag the need for companies to re-appraise their approach to talent attraction and retention.

Hiring for growth has been a scarce event in the past few years due to banks not lending, the Eurozone crisis, far lower levels of mergers and acquisitions than previous years, and private equity firms not doing enough deals have all been contributing factors.

If this momentum continues, as seems likely, demand for good people will grow even further, and there is a real danger that it won’t be matched by the number of people willing to move. 

Employers should already be shifting their mindsets away from defensive ‘recession mode’. Flexibility, imagination and agility when it comes to the candidate market, will increasingly be required to find and retain the right talent. To get on the front foot companies will also need to get creative in the way they search and in their procedures for identifying and keeping valuable people.

The world has changed a great deal since candidates last had the upper hand in the recruitment market. Expectations have gone through the roof, the culture is very different and the way candidates and employers seek each other out has undergone a major shift.

There are five key strategies for recruiting the right talent:

  • Place more attention in the recruitment process on values and ambitions ahead of aptitudes and expectations;
  • Engage, value and nurture candidates from first contact through the entire recruitment process;
  • Focus on getting your branding and identity right – your company’s reputation across platforms such as social media is likely to have a significant bearing on a candidate’s decision;
  • Attract the attention of ‘passive’ candidates by becoming more visible in their networking space and across digital platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn; and,
  • Be strategic and creative in the presentation of reward packages – respond to changing requirements of employees as they move through their lives and careers

The most successful organisations will continue be the ones who recruit well and retain better. In the main, employers have been quite prescriptive in their searches over the past four or five years.

They have tended to recruit from within or default towards the known quantity and the safe pair of hands. But as the balance of power shifts once more towards the candidate, many of the best prospects will be looking for opportunities to stretch themselves.

Organisations need to recognise this, become less risk averse in their overall outlook and concentrate on a far more strategic approach to recruitment.

Emma-Claire Kavanagh is an executive director at recruitment specialists BIE Group.