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Fixing the skills gap: What can you do when there’s a shortage of Candidates?

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

For Employers, the fight to find the right talent in a Candidate-driven market can be tough...

In fact, the skills shortage in the UK is causing companies to spend a colossal £6.3 billion on Temporary workers, larger salaries and training. Experts say that Britain’s economy is the closest it has been to full employment in decades, so how can you grow your company when it’s hard to recruit new team members?

Make yourself competitive

Think about what will attract people to work for you. Can you offer perks to incentivise Candidates to move jobs? For example, flexible working, extra days off and the opportunity for progression. A report from Mercer suggests that fair and competitive pay is still a top priority for staff and many firms are feeling the pressure to increase salaries in order to secure talent. Offering a competitive remuneration package certainly helps, and increases Employee retention, however, it’s also worth thinking creatively. Once you’ve identified your ideal recruit, consider offering benefits to target them specifically.

Widen your recruitment net

You may have a certain role in mind, but is this set in stone? Is there someone within your team who could take a step up, allowing you to advertise for a more junior role which may be easier to fill? If you’re finding it difficult to source talent, try adopting a more holistic viewpoint and look at restructuring your team. If this isn’t possible, it’s worth making a concerted effort to reach out to untapped Candidates. To do this, examine how you’re publicising your jobs and amend the description accordingly to appeal to a wider range of diverse applicants, from different backgrounds and locations. Is it necessary for people to have a degree or would you hire someone with relevant work experience? Tweaking a job description will encourage others with a different skillset to apply.

Employee referrals

Research from Glassdoor shows that Employee referrals are a very effective way of hiring, boosting the chances of Candidates accepting a role. Your Employees have hundreds of contacts; from friends and family, to industry professionals, that they’ve connected with online. Thanks to the power of word of mouth, companies using referral programmes can hire faster and retain staff longer. Setting up a good system will take time – you’ll need to make job requirements clear and offer incentives – but it could pay dividends. After all, current members of staff already know the culture of your organisation and can make a good judgement on whether their potential Candidate would be the right fit.

Train future generations

Are you facing a long-term skills shortage? If so, think about developing your own talent pipeline. A survey from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills found that 66 per cent of applicants lacked the specialist skills or knowledge needed to perform the role. In order to fill roles continuously, perhaps it’s time to make sure that future generations are educated and up to speed. This could be done in-house, by developing your own training scheme, or externally. As a company, Allen Associates works with Vale Financial Training and Oxford Brookes University to support gifted accountancy and HR students. Why not contact your local college to give feedback on course curriculums and help young people to learn industry-specific skills? By taking the time to mentor students, and offering them work experience, you might find someone who impresses you enough to be offered a job.

Seek advice from experts

According to LinkedIn, 70% of today’s workforce is passive, made up of Employees who aren’t intentionally searching. However, 87 per cent of active and passive Candidates are open to new opportunities. Utilising the expertise of a recruitment agency can help you bridge this gap, to reach the people who aren’t looking at job boards but might consider a new role if directly approached. Recruitment agency professionals have a wide network of contacts at their fingertips and will ensure that your advert reaches the greatest pool of qualified Candidates possible.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.

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