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Why the UK is facing a candidate shortage, and how you can attract & retain talent.

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

The UK job market is a strange place these days. At the beginning of the year, and certainly, throughout last year, confidence among the majority of UK businesses was at an all-time low. Many businesses, unfortunately, couldn’t survive the early stages of the pandemic, with an average of 15 employees per 1,000 being made redundant during the latter months of 2020.

Fortunately, the economy is beginning to recover, and restrictions are easing, which has led to a surge in confidence across the job market and an increased demand for new hires across the board. Now, you may be thinking, "How does this lead to a candidate shortage? Surely there should be more candidates than ever!". That would certainly make our jobs easier, however it's not the case.

While the demand for workers is the highest it has been since 1997, the job market is the most competitive it has ever been, with an estimated 69% of UK businesses reporting difficulty hiring.

This reduction in new candidates can be explained by several reasons, including reluctance in changing careers due to uncertainty, the sharp rise in demand across every single sector, and the sheer number of skilled candidates that were snapped up at the beginning of the pandemic.

Perhaps one of the bigger reasons for a candidate shortage is the high furlough rate. Approximately 1.5 million people are still furloughed, and while they're not at work, they are still receiving 80% of their wages each month. We have spoken to a number of furloughed employees and their stance is the same; why would they risk starting a new job in these uncertain times, when they're currently receiving a good wage and are protected under a government scheme?

All of these factors mean that, while there are thousands of vacant positions across the country, potential candidates are either too insecure to take the risk of leaving their current (and stable) jobs, or these candidates have already been quickly snapped up at the earliest opportunity by desperate businesses.

Over the past few months, we have had several clients of ours come to us for advice on how to navigate this unchartered new territory across the UK job market. The questions have all been the same: "How can we make ourselves irresistible to new talent?" or “How can we retain our new employees?”.

As a recruitment agency, we have also been hit hard by the candidate shortage. It's tough to source candidates for our clients when so many people are reluctant to take a chance. Despite these strange circumstances, we are still pulling out all of the stops to support our clients and offer them the best advice possible to get through this crisis.

We've pooled our collective experience, and have come up with a few ways to attract new talent if your business is currently going through a recruitment drive. As ever, if you need support and feel like you can’t do this internally, we are more than happy to sit with you and discuss these options in more detail.

Rapid Response

With the amount of businesses recruiting at the moment, a candidate could be available one day and employed the next. This is only heightened by select companies offering an increased starting pay to 'secure' their new employees, or putting a desirable counteroffer on the table that simply cannot be refused.

So, don't delay in sending a response! Candidates are now less likely to wait around, and the worst feeling is knowing you had a quality potential employee lead, but then let them slip between your fingers.

Send the email, pick up the phone, or contact us; we’re more than ready to organise that job offer!

Establish Company Incentives

The world has changed, and the way we work & hire has changed too. Now, candidates are expecting a lot more from the companies that they are interested in working for.

If you're struggling to attract new employees, other companies are too, and they're all thinking of how to be the best option for potential candidates. This means developing extensive benefits packages, including excellent pension schemes, a generous holiday allowance, flexi-working, gym memberships, health cover, and much more.

Work-life balance has never been more important, and benefits packages that accommodate for a healthy balance are becoming more attractive than ever to job seekers.

If you're struggling to think of incentives and packages that will attract new candidates, we have worked with hundreds of companies who have needed to jump the same hurdle. There are a number of ideas up our sleeves that will certainly excite the talent pool!

Offer Competitive Pay

Since the market is so competitive at present, it is essential that you do your research when it comes to salaries. For every job role you're advertising, make sure to set time aside to investigate the average pay for that particular position.

If the rate of pay you're offering doesn’t meet the average, or if it does but your offer doesn't have any additional benefits inclusive (remember the above point?), then you are likely to find it more of a struggle to attract promising applicants.

For any advice surrounding salary packages, relieve yourself of that stressful burden, and pass it on to us. That’s what we're here for, after all!

Broaden Your Scope

If you become too specific with your search, or too specific with your job description, this may put candidates off applying for your vacancy.

They could feel like they fall short, or don’t possess the right qualities when they might just be the exact applicant you have been looking for.

The last thing you want to do is box yourself in. At a time when the candidate pool has never been smaller, you can’t afford to narrow down the search fields to such an extent. Go into interviews and negotiations with an open mind; you never know what could happen!

Hybrid Working

The past year has shown us that we can work from anywhere. Huge companies decided to move their workforce out of the office and into their homes, and it was hugely successful!

Employees and employers alike have realised that, now we have experienced hybrid working, there's no real need to return to permanent office-based working. Not only does working from home improve wellbeing and increase productivity, it also allows for a much healthier work/life balance.

This could be an essential part of the job offer for many candidates, especially those with families or those who live quite a distance away from the office. Remember, opening your vacancies up to hybrid or remote working where possible, will definitely increase the potential to source good talent.

If you are struggling to recruit, please take a moment to read over the above points and see if you can adapt a few of these tactics into your recruitment plan. As soon as you do, you will instantly become more attractive to the candidate pool, and your vacancies will begin to generate more attention.

If you need any further advice, or are unsure about how best to implement any of the above points, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us on 01792 477340. We're more than happy to shoulder this burden. A problem shared is a problem halved, after all!


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