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Hiring in an increasingly candidate short world

by Alfie Withers September 20, 2019

​A growing problem over recent years for employers and recruiters in the UK and worldwide is the shrinking pool of talent available to them year on year. Half of UK employers looking to recruit for permanent roles expect to find a shortage of candidates.

Although this is not an industry-led problem, different sectors experience this more than others. For example, 73% of recruitment agencies cite the skills shortage as their number one problem when looking to hire in 2019 and the US; workers are quitting their jobs at an alarming rate with one-third of all workers leaving their jobs between April and July of this year. Construction and the Health and Social Care sectors are registering the most concern from this. In the UK the proportion of employers ‘expressing concern’ over the sufficient availability of workers grew from 34% to 72% between July 2017 and July 2018. Along with that, the average UK employer’s confidence to hire and invest is 15 points below the trend pre EU referendum.  The evidence is endless and prominent.

Why is this happening?

There’s no evident and apparent reason for this increasingly problematic trend; however, there are multiple theories that try to explain it. We could now potentially be dealing with a smaller pool of candidates due to less hiring occurring between 2008 and 2012. There may also be uncertainty surrounding Brexit which could be affecting how firms choose to hire as well.

According to REC Chief Executive Neil Carberry, we are “starting to see the effects of rising uncertainty. Candidate shortage is likely to be caused by a combination of people being less willing to take a chance on a move, and a declining trend of workers coming from the EU. Especially in sectors like construction and hospitality.”  Carberry stated how businesses are reliant on the government to “secure a deal on Brexit that will deliver simple, ongoing access to the EU workers who can help keep our key industries functioning in a time of labour shortage.” There is no particular explanation for the candidate-shortage.  However, there are solutions that could be put in place to resolve it.


There are potential solutions to combat the diminishing pools of candidates: 

  • Re-skilling or updating worker’s skills. : 

Despite the advantages that re-skilling can bring to an organisation, it is often overlooked by employers. Internal training /development and the opportunities to achieve formal qualifications are some of the methods businesses can adopt to maximise the potential of a restricted pool of talent. A robust internal training programme will also increase the interest of prospective candidates, who value opportunities to upskill when seeking new roles.

  • Engage Recruitment Agencies: 

Employers increasingly have to turn to recruitment agencies to provide businesses what they need so they can bridge the skills gap and deliver the expertise they need to help their business. Recruitment agencies can become vital during a crisis such as a skills shortage and help companies to push ahead on their goals, investments and strategies.  Recruitment agencies can help deliver the missing skills and also help to encourage more people to share their expertise.

  • Analyse and change your Recruitment Marketing Strategy: 

Marketing your available jobs and your company as a whole is a fundamental skill that becomes much more important during a talent shortage. For example, you could improve your careers sight by making sure you have your application process as well as a design that aligns with the company brand. Your job ads should be carefully crafted and try to contact people with a similar job to what you’re advertising and find out what drew them in to improve your ads.

  • Referrals:

In 2018, 82% of employers found employee referrals to be the candidate source with the best return on investment. Also, a well-run employee referral programme creates deeper employee engagements as well as higher-quality candidates. To maximise this opportunity, making referrals a part of the recruitment process could increase both the quality and the number of your candidates. 

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