Hiring in 2017 was like visiting a dentist; you only go if you have to. “When we ask a client how quickly they need to get a new employee in place, the most common answer is ‘we need them now’ and this is the reality of the environment businesses are working in. Hiring is reactive, more often than not it’s a distressed purchase, and it is frenetic” says Darnton.
In many ways, hiring is back to where it was 11 years ago, with a significant difference - some companies are hurting, some are thriving. This polarisation combined with concurrent confidence and caution makes today’s situation very fluid.
Such a busy job market combined with ‘speed is of the essence’ driven reactive hiring, means that finding the talent you need can be a hit and miss affair. Practices are clearly aware of the problem with 55% of Hiring Managers and Directors indicating that skills shortages have restricted their ability to deliver their business objectives in 2017.
Darnton continued: “The issue companies face when they hire reactively is that not all can do it well. Moving quickly during the attraction, interview and decision making stage is critical. If they don’t they’ll lose out to someone better than them.”
“55% of Hiring Managers and Directors indicated that skills shortages have restricted their ability to deliver their business objectives in 2017”
It is a major catch twenty-two; most businesses know the specific skill sets they’ll need for a specific project they’ve bid for, but they have to wait until contracts are signed and end up needing somebody in quickly. This person has to be on the market and available in the first place, or if they are being headhunted then the hiring company needs to have a compelling value proposition.
In any candidate-driven market, a company’s recruitment and attraction processes will come into question and this should start with their employer brand. “Most practices do not have visibly powerful employer brands and in today’s market, a high-value activity for anyone involved with hiring will be to review their recruitment process; What is the candidate’s experience of it? Is it designed to avoid being too slow without cutting corners? What tools can be used to improve it? And most importantly, what do people think about us as an employer? Some of the proudest practices would be shocked by how little prospective candidates know about them.”
Looking ahead into 2018, 54% of medium practices, 56% of large practices and 92% of small practices said that they would continue to hire reactively. All the signs are pointing to continued volatility, and thus, “reactive is the new normal”.