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How to hire effectively in a candidate-driven market

The job market is constantly changing. In recent years, there has been a significant shift from the labour market favouring the employer to them now favouring the candidate. There is a widespread talent shortage and consequently companies across the country are struggling to hire new talent and retain existing talent. A recent study found that over two–thirds of hiring managers have struggled to attract candidates with the right hard skills, technical knowledge or experience. The root cause of this shortage can be traced back to the most recent recession when companies were forced to make cuts in order to survive. Staff investment and staff retention exercises were assigned a relatively low priority, and this has consequentially affected the remaining workforce.

Unemployment is now at a record low of 4.3%, however a slight increase has been recorded this year following a sharp rise in inflation and a tightening of the labour market. This statistic, coupled with the continued growth in the demand for labour, has led to candidates controlling the market. The job market is buoyant with organisations constantly looking to hire new people; this has in turn increased competition giving candidates the opportunity to choose between companies depending on who they think will be the best cultural fit and who will present the best opportunities.

In addition to this, certain industries are being hit more severely than others. Specialist sectors, including the financial service market and the IT market are suffering from being candidate-short, due to the highly specific skill set required to excel in their sector. The days of companies obsessing over finding the ‘ideal’ candidates who are the best fit to their organisation are gone. Candidates are now in the position to deliberate between who is the best fit for them, giving them the deciding power in the market.

Therefore, in order for companies to cope with the shift in control evident within today’s market, it is important to alter hiring methods to keep up with these changes.

Act fast:

Hiring companies need to be aware that candidates who have applied for a job are activelyengaged in their job search and this means they will also, most probably, be applying for jobs elsewhere. Companies are no longer in the comfortable position where they can spend time deliberating for weeks and months over whether the candidate in question meets all their specified criteria. From our own experience, if you take too long, it can almost be guaranteed that the candidate will be offered and will accept a job elsewhere. Whilst we also understand that hiring is not a decision which should be rushed into, as making an inappropriate hire can be costly for a company, both financially and in terms of productivity, it is important to take enough time to deliberate. However, prolonging the application process could mean losing out on the candidate completely, which consequently means losing out on the financial investment made and time spent searching for that candidate. It can also mean that current employees are more than likely working harder to provide cover, whilst the application process is ongoing; thereby potentially damaging staff morale and increasing attrition rates. This can lead to a potentially vicious cycle.

Make your job appealing:

Job descriptions are often neglected, with many hirers opting to use a standard template to advertise many of their jobs. If this is simply a box ticking exercise which has no meaning, then you should be questioning the efficacy of spending time ondoing one in the first place. In today’s candidate driven market, more effort needs to be made to attract potential applicants with good, strong adverts which are not unnecessarily lengthy. Companies should use their adverts as a chance to sell both the role and the company. They should think outside the usual box with regards to the content of the description and the criteria that they are looking for. Introducing greater flexibility into candidate criteria will broaden the range of candidates that will apply therefore leading to the possibility of hiring a candidate that would have not normally been considered.

The interview should also be used as an opportunity to really sell the job to the candidate. Hirers must remember that the interview is now, more than ever, a two-way process.

  • Why should the candidate pick you over your competitors?
  • What perks do you offer the candidate? – Flexible hours? Benefits scheme? Ability to work from home? Performance bonuses? Enhanced retirement plan?…

Be honest:

Whilst every effort should be made to attract potential candidates, it is important that companies do not over-exaggerate or lie when describing what it is they have to offer. This applies to describing the role and it’s associated responsibilities, company benefits and facts about the company itself. In the current market where competition is rife, it can be very tempting, but companies must try and resist. Giving false information will only lead to unrealistic expectations and may result in the chosen candidate deciding to leave. Not only will the company then have to repeat the recruitment process, they will have wasted time, money and productivity on the initial previous hiring process. Additionally, in this situation there is the possibility that the company will develop a bad reputation if the candidate decides to share their experience with other job seekers. This is becoming more common due to the increasing number of websites and discussion boards which encourage employees to share their experience working for a company (e.g Glassdoor). Companies should be aware that prospective applicants are actively checking these sites in order to help them make an informed decision on whether a company is suited to them.

Honesty should always be a mutual trait – if an employer is untruthful towards a potential employee, how can that employer expect the employee to be truthful to them? Reinstating honesty as an important trait at the beginning of the recruitment process, will then set the tone for the rest of the process and the subsequent working relationship, if the candidate succeeds in securing the role.

In a rapidly-changing environment, companies need to ensure they are monitoring these changes and then adapt accordingly. It has never been more important for a company to sell themselves to potential candidates and to publicise their USP to ensure they really stand out from their competitors; and for the right reasons. Once they have attracted the right candidates, companies then need to focus on being thorough but decisive, working to ensure they make a fantastic hire whilst being aware that the candidates they are considering will also be going through a similar process with their competitors. Above all, companies need to ensure they make these changes sooner rather than later because the longer they spend implementing these changes, the more potential talent they may be missing out on.

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Job Market page of a newspaper

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