Candidates back in the driving seat?

Posted on 17/06/2010 by Emma Dadswell


We thought we would share with you our guest blog on HR Zone  which was published recently, authored by our very own Gill Bell.

Now there are more jobs on the market and more talent willing to move, does this mean that candidates are finally in the driving seat when it comes to recruitment?
 A lot has changed over the past year. In the summer of 2009 we were experiencing what some called the worst recession since World War II. With budget cuts leading to widespread redundancies, suddenly the number of job seekers on the market rose to a level never seen before by many in the recruitment and HR sectors. It became very much a client-led marketplace, with employers able to call the shots; offering perhaps less than competitive salaries, having a selection of candidates to choose from and spending longer on the decision-making process. However now that we're in 2010 and we are all hoping that the downturn is behind us, there are more jobs on the market and there is more talent willing to move. Does this mean that candidates are now in the driving seat when it comes to recruitment?

The economy is currently on an upward curve and confidence is returning, but at the same time this optimism is a cautious one. Unemployment is still quite high, and there are still many people employed who have yet to return to a full working week. In this sense, as employers are the ones in control of creating new vacancies, they are in quite a powerful position. However despite the recession leading to a jobs market flooded with potential candidates, this does not mean that there has necessarily been more talent to choose from. With many organisations using headcount cuts as a way to sort the wheat from the chaff and make their teams stronger, the majority of quality and experienced staff managed to retain their positions, and were not willing to move jobs in such a volatile market. Although the war for talent is not back in full force at the level seen a few years ago, it's still present, and for those quality people whose skills are in strong demand, it is most certainly a candidate-driven market.

Although it can be argued that it's a candidate's world, this in fact means that HR has a more important role than ever to play. HR is not only 'buying' talent; it is selling its own strengths too. Organisations need to demonstrate to potential new recruits why they should take a role with that company as opposed to with a competitor. Employer branding is vital here, to position your company as a forward thinking one that people will want to join. This can cover a variety of aspects, from what benefits are on offer to what corporate social responsibility strategy is in place.

This employer brand is even more important when recruiting what has become known as 'Gen Y' – those born after 1980, who are the up and coming pipeline of talent. Generation Y jobseekers' eyes are not just fixed on how much money they can make; they are looking for an employer who offers something more. And it is things like working for a socially responsible company and being able to work flexibly that are important. Jonathan Austin, chief executive of Best Companies says "I'm not saying money isn't important – some of them are carrying debt from university – but our data shows they are looking for a working environment in which they can continue to learn. They also want flexibility and a real work/life balance. They simply aren't prepared to mortgage their lives to the company." Ignoring these needs will mean ignoring the next generation of professionals with the skills and potential to help shape your business.

If we're not already in a 'candidate's world', we're definitely moving towards one. In order to attract and retain the best people to help your business succeed, you'll have to position your company as one that has something to offer in return.