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The Reality of the 2021 Recruitment Market

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As the recruiting partner for a number of companies big and small, our job is to match great candidates with their perfect role and fill a host of vacancies across our range of clients. It is also part of our job to manage expectations and constantly review the marketplace on behalf of our clients – identifying where demand is high and determining the best course of action for roles and industry areas with limited talent pools. 


As we approach the middle of a year that has been defined by the pandemic and the upheaval of jobs across virtually all industries, this article looks at how 2021 has changed the recruitment market and considers what clients in particular can do to ensure that they continue to fill vacancies quickly and effectively. 


What’s happening to the recruitment market? 

There is no escaping the fact that the recruitment market is a minefield in 2021. The overarching, stand-out theme is the sheer lack of candidates. With the levels of furlough and redundancies that have battered the labour pool over the last 18 months or so you'd expect a never ending stream of eager beaver candidates from which clients (and recruiters), but this just isn't the case! 


Not only that, but "available" candidates in 2021 are looking for instant results – with clients often finding that by the time they make a decision regarding a placement, their top candidate has been snapped up by a competitor. Who do we blame in this scenario? While it can be easy and often tempting to blame the competitor or hiring party at the other end of the job offer, it is more likely to be a result of the candidate applying for more than one job at once and simply opting for the position that makes their decision quickest. 


What we can glean from our recruitment market research is that candidates are more impatient with higher expectations than ever before regarding the positions they are applying to. And this means clients are sifting through applications but identifying the viable candidates takes longer – and can sometimes mean the best candidates are lost to other companies. 

So, what can clients and companies do to fix this imbalance?


Our advice to clients 

The first thing that clients need to do is manage their own expectations around the types of candidates who are out there and actively looking for jobs. The market is full of job seekers, and yet as we already stated, quantity does not always equal quality and so we urge companies to review their list of requirements for new starters and potential hires. 


Here’s why. A list of expectations and requirements forms a great starting point for any recruitment process, enabling us as your recruiting partner to vet applicants and ensure that only the most viable options are passed over to interview. However, the more tick boxes there are to meet, the longer the process takes – and the more likely we are to lose the best candidates to other job offers. 2021 is the year of digitalisation and instant gratification, with applicants more impatient – and more desperate for jobs – than ever before. Thus, the requirements should be as realistic as possible. 


Once a candidate has been passed over for interview, again we advise that you schedule the interview quickly and keep in regular contact with the applicant – letting them know that you are still very much interested in their potential. 


Another thing that clients can do to increase their flexibility in the recruitment process is define a checklist of must-have requirements, and preferred requirements. We are currently working with all our clients to devise job applications which identify these skills from the very first step – in an attempt to ensure that only the most suitable candidates submit an application. Of course, we cannot stop unsuitable candidates from applying – but the process is designed to limit bottom level applications.


And then we come to communication and a cohesive process. The more we are able to integrate the recruitment service with your company and your team, the better equipped we are to hand over the best match for your company culture and vision. We recommend that all clients working with a recruitment partner hold regular meetings to discuss new vacancies and the ideal individual for those roles, and that client’s hand over vision and culture documents to recruitment partners in order to help shape effective job adverts. The more transparent you can be from the off, the higher the chance of finding a suitable candidate quickly. 


The Takeaway 

There are a number of factors which are stacked against the recruitment industry this year, not least the upheaval of the job market and the growing demand from candidates for instant decisions, alongside the expectation of high skillsets coming from clients. 


In an effort to streamline the process, our main piece of advice to clients is to manage expectations and create more accessible job adverts which demand the skills you need – but which leave out the high level and unattainable requirements. If it helps to create a list of priority and preferred skills to aid your recruitment partner then this will help to streamline the process – equally we advise transparency from the early stages with regards to the process, its duration, and the kind of work required as part of every role.


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