David Rowlands of Platform Resourcing, South Wales recruitment agency, shares his thoughts on recruitment priorities and the current recruitment market.

Platform have seen a 90% increase in business for the months of January and February. As we start moving into the next transition stage of businesses returning to some level of normality; David explores what their priorities will be as well as barriers they may face when recruiting.

For companies where automation is only part of the solution, clearly recruitment priorities will differ from business to business, but the general mood from most business owners and HR professionals is one of optimism. This has been reflected with the increase of recent recruitment activity currently taking place. The National Office of Statistics have reported an increase in live vacancies from 343,000 for the period of April to Jun 2020, rising to 578,000 live vacancies for the period of October to December 2020. Yes of course this is all relative and during these unprecedented times we need to identify the true trends; but without doubt this is a good indication in market confidence.

Following the pandemic many businesses have taken a step back to consider their priorities. Reviews on strategy, business need, and infrastructure have been at the forefront of many discussions; and a lean approach to working has been introduced, with many benefits and tangible business savings. Without doubt for most, business trade will return, and for those businesses who have thrived during this time of uncertainty, long may the upward trend continue. We are however, in a period of the unknown. As companies change the way they work they also change the way they recruit.

As we enter the next stage of business transition from furlough and staying at home, to work from home or even back to work as prior to the pandemic, the next level of priorities needs to be set.

If your business has changed the day to day working arrangements, it is worth considering that this may also give you the opportunity to increase the candidate pool that you draw upon. If people are now managed remotely, with occasional face to face engagement, then in theory the UK availability pool has been opened. You could even consider a global pool of candidates. It is worth noting of course this could come with some added complexities.

Some businesses took the chance during the first period of the pandemic to reduce overheads and cut staff numbers. Thankfully, many were retained through the Job Retention Scheme and many remain furloughed to this day. The direct impact for businesses was that they found themselves overstretched and understaffed. For all intents and purposes, some businesses were put on hold or mothballed.

The skill shortages have been highlighted during this time; although many have successfully increased headcount, others are still struggling to attract those who have a unique skill set that their companies so desperately desire.

So, what have we learnt over this period, and how can we take this information and transform it into a strategic recruitment plan?

Consider what gaps you have in your workforce. Key recruits are essential for any business. At the best of times recruitment can be tough, however the challenges we face now are significantly harder than those that have come before. As before, depending on the level of vacancy you are advertising will depend on the response that you get.

Previously vacancies may have only taken a few weeks to advertise, interview and appoint. With more applications and the stay-at-home message still firmly in place, the amount of administration and cost for time has increased.

It is important to be specific about your requirements and to highlight this when you are advertising vacancies and interviewing candidates. You will receive an increase in applications, however more of these applications may be unsuitable and some completely irrelevant to the vacancy advertised due to the increased unemployment levels.

What working from home does offer, is the chance to set up interviews remotely, so some time efficiencies can be made. It also gives you the chance to interview more candidates for that initial stage as it can be easier to get the recruiting stakeholders together. Due diligence is essential and reference checking candidate’s work history could be the key to bringing on the best talent.

Return of investment (ROI) for recruitment must be top of mind when looking to appoint. This again is sector specific and depends on the type of business that you have. How can you ensure that you are getting the best value for money from the candidates that you are bringing into your business at this time, whilst also attracting the unique skill set required to perform the job.

Search for that unique skill set and consider that this is your best chance of not only getting that vacancy filled, but also getting a healthy ROI. Your search will need to start by setting out a list of tangible competencies that the candidates will need to have demonstrate through their CV. They will then also need to be able to evidence this through the interview process.

Although personality and culture fit are extremely important, you need to outline what the essential skills and experience look like for your business.

As we are now on the road to recovery, the wheels of industry have started turning again. Think long term and not only what you need now, but also what talent could support and accelerate your growth plans in the future. Until now it has been tough to even contemplate what the future might hold. Roadmaps have now been set by the government and timeframes have also confirmed that this is a great time to get ahead of the curve. When businesses have their return-to-work plan in place, then perhaps it is also a time to consider what the future now holds.

It is an exciting time for everyone and as the mood lifts, confidence returns and more opportunities become available, now is the best time to be recruiting.

If Platform Resourcing can support you with any of your current recruitment needs, then please do not hesitate to contact us.

T 01633 415305