I really enjoy working in an open office environment. Sure, it can be distracting at times, but the ability to listen in on things that are going on from candidate campaigns to recruiters and customer feedback is a great way of taking a continuing pulse on the world of Early Talent.
This morning began with one of our most enthusiastic recruiters – let’s call her Kim – having a great conversation with an employer about the interviews we had arranged for today. As part of the conversation was a discussion about the state of the candidate market. It was a very good natured discussion between two people who obviously had a good understanding of the realities of life. Yes, it is difficult to get great candidates. Yes, when you do find them, they don’t always come back to you. Yes, it’s important to make sure that not only the job you’re offering is good, but prospects are great. Yes, recruiting in childcare can be difficult!
“We keep fighting the good fight” seemed to be the summary. A great employer with a stable team in North London trying to get the best fit for new members of their team.
It was such a lively and enthusiastic discussion that it made me reflect again on the overall state of the jobs market. Those involved with early talent talent programmes – whether it be school leavers, apprentices or graduates will all recognise the themes from the discussion above. There has been a drop in the number of young people starting on apprenticeship programmes – driven mainly by changes to funding – and two years after this change came into effect, it’s beginning to hit companies that have not found alternative sources of new talent.
Some of the stats that tell this tale at a national level also make it clear that this is not a temporary blip. The ‘ageing’ population is not a new concept. The fact that there are 6% less ‘young people’ as a percentage of the UK population than 40 years ago is significant. The number of unfilled job vacancies is also at an all-time high – over 750,000 as of May 2019 according to the ONS and unemployment is nearing record lows at only 3.8%.
This picture is clear – if your business relies on people, the war for talent is on. Those organisations that win in the future are going to be those that truly understand that bringing in new talent that is well matched to their culture and future needs is business critical, not something to leave to chance.
Whilst these statistics raise a range of big strategic issues about future work forces, in the short term there are some really simple guidelines that you can follow to make sure your immediate needs are met. Whenever we’re working with an organisation on early talent – whether it’s Childcare in North London or a Fast-track Management in a Multinational – we always work through the following checklist;
How attractive are you?
Understanding where your organisation stands in the competitive jobs market is a pre-cursor to success. Shaping your roles to appeal to your target candidates and then making sure that they are competitively positioned is vital. Of course, this will include pay, benefits and progression, but the best candidates will also be assessing culture, values and your reputation. Increasingly our data tells us that perception of these elements varies wildly between different regions and communities across the UK, so a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is increasingly ineffective.
Start out with a good experience
I’m sure you’ve heard the maxim ‘You only get one chance to make a great first impression’ and this is just as true for your future employees as any other context. Most job searches tend to start on-line these days, so ensuring your digital presence is planned and executed across all channels is very important. Good social media, candidate web pages, case studies and a streamlined (and appropriate application process) are really no more than a ticket of entry these days.
- Recruitment is a two-way process
From the very first interaction, whilst you are assessing the candidate, they will be evaluating you too. From the speed of response to the tone you take and your ability to answer questions – these are all factors that help to determine how attractive you will be to the best candidates.
It never ceases to amaze me that there are still business around that think that by taking on a young person, they are ‘doing them a favour’ and ‘they should be grateful for the opportunity’. In the mid 90s when unemployment was running at 10%, that may have been true. That thinking, however, really does belong to a bygone era.