According to some, the new year has arrived with the recruitment environment in a state of flux; but with pandemic light at the end of the tunnel* what are the predictions and current trends we are seeing for 2022?
(*tunnel length unknown)
Here at Amberjack we have been reviewing information from different sources to be able to best provide insights from across the industry.
To begin with, we looked internally and spoke to our Client Partners – who support recruitment for some of the UK’s biggest brands – to discuss what they have been experiencing in the Early Talent hiring season so far! We found that a couple of themes consistently arose; the return of pre-Covid application numbers, but an increase in withdrawals at different stages.
Government numbers for December 2021 demonstrated a new record of 1,219,000 vacancies between September and November 2021, with employment rates also seeing an improvement. As a result some organisations are noticing an increase in withdrawals, especially last minute dropouts.
Signs point to a recruitment market where candidates are in charge. Job seekers at the end of 2021 found themselves in a market with less competition than 2020. With their skills in demand, candidates can afford to be pickier, and are testing the water by applying for multiple jobs at once to try to find the most suitable or desirable for them. Inevitably this leads to the increase in application withdrawals and lack of assessment centre attendance that we are now seeing.
Next, we broadened the net and dove into some recent industry research. Throughout the research, the same themes popped up time-and-time again: salary increases, candidate driven markets, staff retention, the reinvention of office culture, and the tech sector boom.
Candidate power is evidenced through several recent reports, including salary increases that continue to accelerate. In the current market, with a plethora of roles open to them, candidates can be more selective, which has resulted in many employers trying harder to secure talent. As an average, salaries have increased by 2.8%, with the highest increases between 3.2% and 4% seen in shared services, technology, and engineering and manufacturing. It’s a tactic that appears to be working; Bannatyne, financial director for a London-based legal services group, said that candidates were able to secure wage increases of 15 to 20 per cent when they moved jobs. However, this change isn’t just for new talent; awarding top performers is on the up! According to Employee Benefits, UK employers are set to give a pay rise of 2.9% to staff in 2022.
Furthermore, with the reinvention of office culture, reassessment of work/life balance, and the new normal that is remote working, applicants and current staff are more confident in asking for what they want; retaining the flexibility they have enjoyed during the pandemic. A Harvard Business School survey has shown that 81% of staff don’t want to go back to the office at all or would prefer hybrid working.
It is clear that a candidate’s future now rests more firmly with themselves. Trends such as the Great Resignation and increasing attrition, the aforementioned demand for remote working, and salary increases, mark the beginning of substantial change for workers.
Finally, informed by our research and observations from our Client Partners, it is obvious that the tech sector boom is continuing, with investment in technology in the UK growing 2.3x in 2021 alone. This success appears to be fueled by remote jobs; organisations are casting their net for skills further afield, with over half (53%) of tech recruiters planning to hire fully remote staff.
Transformation Through Early Talent
The good news is that the graduating class of 2022 promises to be one of the most qualified, diverse and largest cohorts for many years. Faced with experienced, but restless (and often more expensive) existing staff, the opportunity for organisations to “grow your own” via graduate and apprentice programmes can be an ideal answer.
Why do we tend to talk about the Top-300 companies in the UK when discussing the graduate recruitment market? The benefits of investing in a graduate scheme can transform the profile of any business and leave you with a loyal and more cost-effective work force.
Investing in graduate or apprentice talent will pay-off more quickly than employers realise – this is a tech savvy, highly educated class and with more valid work experience than graduates of the past. Unlocking their potential will be where the most ambitious business leaders find the most significant gains.
Innovation in Recruitment
To finish our research in the quest to collate 2022 trends and outlooks, we asked Amberjack’s network about new and emerging themes, and what they want to see and learn more about. Assessing Neurodiversity, the use of AI in recruitment, and the skills shortage, were our top ranking topics.
As companies such as Microsoft have rolled out their Neurodiversity Recruitment programmes in recent years, the motivation to get involved and embrace neurodiverse hiring has grown – assessing neurodiverse candidates was the most popular topic that our network wanted to learn more about.
The implementation of AI in Recruitment was the second most popular topic as voted on by Amberjack’s network. According to gov.uk, between January and June 2021, global investors poured £13.5 billion into private UK tech firms, and the UK government themselves have invested £2.3 billion in AI since 2014. These numbers make it easy to see why the growing interest in AI in recruitment is likely to continue.
Lastly, 2021 saw talk of skills shortages continue to rise. In this article alone, the power held by candidates has been mentioned several times. With more vacancies than ever, and growing sectors such as technology, skills are in demand and organisations are struggling to fill the voids. Even from Amberjack’s own Client Partners, who are deeply involved in the hiring process of multiple large firms, we are seeing the gap between candidate skills and an increasing number of available roles widen.
But what to do about it?
It is fair enough to talk about trends – and there is nothing particularly groundbreaking we are highlighting here – but the challenge often is what to do about it.
Areas such as pre-application profile building, rich and immersive campaigns, strengthening candidate engagement (from attraction through to onboarding) all remain critical to ensure candidates remain invested in your company and avoid getting their head turned.
How are you communicating with those applying and ensuring they are already personally and emotively connected to your business? How are your assessment processes designed to ensure that the way you are measuring candidates reflects these attributes and are 100% fair and diverse? Does the recruitment tech you use demonstrate you are a place these applicants really want to work? Are you investing enough in graduate or apprentice talent per head?
Real consideration should be given to whether you are doing your brand justice while you recruit and are successfully lifting your vacancies above the crowd. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to ensure that salary increases are not your only weapon in this war for talent.