It’s all anyone has been talking about for months and it's now all over the mainstream news, it’s official, there are more job vacancies than there are unemployed workers in the UK*. The Office for National Statistics reported unemployment has fallen to a fifty-year low and job vacancies have reached a record high.
As with all statistics, the picture is more complex and does vary from industry sector to industry sector, but the general consensus is the same; it is increasingly difficult to find staff for any job at any level.
In the highways sector, the story is the same. Major projects are pushing ahead with funding in place and there is a genuine need in our communities for completion deadlines to be met. But they are being stalled by organisations struggling to hire staff right now.
Adam Butler, Team Leader for Carrington West’s highways, transport and infrastructure division says, “Organisations have been used to having their pick of candidates. Yes, they have had to work hard to attract the top professionals, and retain them, but generally speaking the right package and an exciting project was enough. Now, employers need to stand out from the crowd and many don’t know where to turn.”
HR teams and hiring managers are now having to take a long, hard look at their value proposition and what they can offer employees. Whilst we are seeing salaries rising, with the rising cost of living this alone is not enough to attract applications. Job seekers in the sector are looking for so much more than money. They want more flexibility in how and where they work, and they want to work with organisations that have proved they care about the environment, employee wellbeing, training and career progression.
Adam goes on to say, “across the board our clients are really taking the time to evaluate what they are able to offer, and that is fantastic news for everyone. We don’t want to see a situation where a candidate is able to name their price any more than we want to see employers settle for second best.”
Being the best possible employer is the first step to securing talent quickly, but what happens when the basic numbers just don’t add up and demand still outstrips supply?
Back to Adam, “accessing the passive candidate market is now more important than ever, but it takes time to find the right people, approach them and build enough of a rapport to encourage them to take action, when the chances are they are perfectly happy in their current role. Often, organisations are not willing to wait, but it is a process that is proven to save time and money in the long run, especially in current market conditions.”
Working with a recruitment partner on a retained basis rather than contingent, is one way to access this all important talent pool. Recruiters have extensive databases, and a multitude of tools at their disposal that allow them to find and reach out to passive candidates. The benefits are many and we are seeing a much higher rate of success in filling the more challenging vacancies even in the current market.
“It stands to reason that we can spend more time on sourcing candidates if we have a proportion of our fee up front. We can run more bespoke and extensive advertising campaigns and we can more accurately map the market to find exactly the right person. By the time we introduce a hiring manager to a candidate, we have built up a much more comprehensive picture of that person, their skills and the likelihood of them fitting in with company culture. All of this points to a higher chance of avoiding making the wrong hire just because you need someone quickly.” Says Adam.
It has been very clear to us that employer branding and retained partnerships are two of the best ways to fill current vacancies, but there is no silver bullet. Organisations that consistently communicate their values, treat staff well, participate in their work communities and engage with their partners will always triumph.