We are already one month in to the new year and, for many recruiters, our business plans are starting to take shape. Many business leaders take the winter break as an opportunity to reflect on the past twelve months, and reset objectives.
With this in mind, eBoss wanted to take the pulse of the nation’s recruitment enterprises. What goals had firms set for themselves over the next twelve months? Which areas needed improvements or extra resources to keep performance at the optimum levels?
We gauged the nation’s recruitment intentions in one of our (largely unscientific, but broad and wide-reaching) user polls. We asked just over 700 recruitment consultants, managers, and business owners where their priorities would lie in 2020. Then we asked each to select one from a list of multiple choice answers that would best reflect their views.
The options covered a wide range of concerns within the recruiting sector. They were:
The fascinating part of these results is how real recruiters’ true priorities vary from the expectations of industry commentators. The responses contradict some of the prevailing assumptions which tells us that skills are the hot-button topic of the day.
In fact, the largest portion of respondents were keen to demonstrate the speed at which they can make a placement. Just under half (44 per cent) of respondents said that they wanted to reduce their times-to-hire in 2020. This seems like a logical response to increasing market pressures. In a competitive market such as the UK jobs sector, getting the right results quickly can be the difference between just ticking over, and thriving as an enterprise.
If we didn’t know it already then we learned that recruiters are a results-orientated bunch. The second most important factor for the new year was to increase market share. Almost exactly a quarter of all those surveyed listed growth as their most pressing concern for the year.
But quality remains at the core of the UK recruiting experience, too. The next most pressing concern among respondents was the candidate experience. Just under one in five (19 per cent) of recruiters placed an improved candidate experience at the heart of their New Year agenda.
Perhaps most intriguing was the low placement of “sourcing skills” as an option. It took fifth place (with just 6% of the votes); narrowly beaten out by “branding” (on 6.4 per cent).
What does this mean?
Given the range of multiple choice answers, it is perhaps unsurprising to see marketing concerns placing so low. After all, if you have already achieved the speed in making placements, and improved your candidate experience, then you are also likely to grow your market share organically. Your branding is your performance. Similarly, if you are not meeting those performance objectives, then it may not be the right time to start advertising.
But the most interesting result is the apparent lack of urgency over skills shortages.
We often hear how employers are struggling to find the required knowledge or experience in candidates. So why are recruiters less concerned about this than we might perhaps suppose?
There could be many reasons for skills polling so low among our recruitment priorities. The first (most pessimistic) would tell us that everybody is suffering from a skills shortage. When every side of the jobs market acknowledges the dearth of talent, expectations are already low. There is little point pumping additional resources into looking for something that simply is not there. And this explanation might be closer to the truth than many would like to acknowledge.
But perhaps efficiencies are prevailing, and placements are no longer backing up as they await qualified talent. Many recruiters dislike working on a stacked candidate database. Those who run older recruitment software – systems without semantic search and automated job matching technologies – can actually end up working slower with an surplus of candidates. These agencies, lacking any way to quickly sort and search through their stored data, may be effectively prevented from seeking out new candidates and the database becomes an obstacle rather than an assistant.
Lastly, we have to factor in the survey itself. This is just a cross-section of the UK industry as provided by eBoss customers. Many eBoss clients represent highly specialised areas of the market. This may reduce the impact of skills shortages because, while specific skills may be in short supply, they are easy to place once they enter the market. Similarly, a specialist recruiter has learned to live with a naturally low level of supply since day one. This is why so many niche recruiters thrive in a lean skills market.