Is it still a candidate-driven market?

Is it still a candidate-driven market?

Written by Rosie Skinner

Rosie Skinner is a recruitment expert, speaker and Director of Mployable - Talent Strategy and Recruitment on Subscription, also known as the Outsourced In-House Recruitment Team. She's been in the recruitment industry for almost ten years, in recruitment agency (yes, high street agency) roles in her early days, through to in house recruitment and HR managerial roles in the latter part of her career. Rosie is CIPD and REC qualified and has spoken at prestigious industry events such as 'Disrupt HR' and 'Inspire Recruitment' as well as numerous business events and workshops.

Is it still a candidate-driven market? Overall yes. I think it is. But not like it was.

Prior to March 2020, we were experiencing low unemployment rates, and candidate availability, to the extent we hadn’t seen since the 1970s.  Roles would be posted with even the most prestigious and interesting companies within our economy to the sound of crickets and the roll of tumbleweed.

What we are seeing currently is that roles that don’t necessitate specific skills, experience or qualifications are inundated with applications. Often going up into triple figures. 

Sure, that sounds impressive. Though this wasn’t uncommon pre-pandemic.

And roles that do require experience, specific skills and qualifications are still challenging to successfully fill.

Put it this way.  If you as a business owner have continued to grow and trade throughout the pandemic and Brexit, it’s likely due to the service or product you sell in some part being COVID or Brexit ‘proof’.

You pivoted. Adapted. Or weathered the storm however necessary to come out to (what we hope) is nearing the other side.  

But here’s the thing.  The chances are – your competitors are in exactly the same boat. By this I  mean the recruitment market is still extremely buoyant and candidate-driven in a number of sectors (for example construction and tech). 

The fact remains true that these skilled candidates are not sitting at home waiting for your call. 

They are still out there and working for your competitors – and you need to be offering something special for them to even look in your direction.

The unemployment figures you see in the media aren’t reflective of every sector in the employment market. They’ve been hugely skewed by the unfortunate collapses and enforced breaks of high number employment industries such as hospitality and retail.  

Equally, candidates that are in demand are nervous to jump ship.  If their current employers have weathered the storms of the last few years in the economy, and things aren’t so bad – why would they jump into the unknown without good reason?  

What will change this current status quo is the wind up of the furlough scheme.  Currently, due to end in September. It will be interesting to see the impact on candidate availability when the scheme comes to an end this year. 

Who knows how many people there are currently in ‘suspended animation’ whilst their salary is covered by the scheme?  People who don’t have a hope of getting their jobs back, but their current employer is doing their best by them, by keeping them on a salary.

I predict that this is a very temporary situation.  Many businesses have pulled back on growth activities, including recruitment, over the last year due to the uncertainty within the country and the economy as the virus spread and we were yo-yo-ed in and out of lockdowns. 

But great candidates who are in demand will always be just that.

By this time next year, I predict that we will be back in the throes of a heavily candidate led marketplace.

Overall, in terms of the availability of desirable candidates, truly little has changed since pre-pandemic.  You may find you receive more applications for every role – but often it will be quantity over quality. 

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