Resourcing in a candidate-led market: An Executive Search Managers perspective

In 2020 the world paused, with millions working remotely under stay-at-home mandates. Businesses across the world continued to operate, navigating unprecedented times and a confusing new normal. Between daily Zoom calls, social-distancing restrictions and mass feelings of uncertainty, many people began to report an experience of chronic exhaustion and stress, termed ‘Burnout’.

According to research from Indeed, a staggering 52% of survey respondents experienced burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Perhaps as a result of these stressors, 2021 has seen a paradigm shift in employees’ attitudes towards their workplaces, careers and priorities. Data from the US Bureau of Labour Statistics shows that 4 million Americans left their jobs in July 2021. Similar trends have been observed globally, with nearly 1.2 million jobs open in the UK during the last quarter, and 15 out of 18 sectors reporting record numbers of open positions. Some of the most highly affected industries include manufacturing, with a 78.3% year-on-year increase in vacancies, as well as transport and storage, wholesale & retail trade.

This phenomenon is being labelled ‘The great resignation’ by some, and it’s changing the way we recruit across the world.

As manager of the Retail, Robotics & Supply Chain Technology division at Gillespie Manners, I’ve witnessed the effects of ‘The Great resignation’ first hand. My team specialises in sourcing high calibre candidates for mid to senior and C-level roles across the UK, US, EMEA and APAC. In each of these markets, we’ve seen the competition for quality talent soar.

So, in a candidate-led market, how can businesses ensure that they’re attracting and retaining the best talent?

A candidate-led market is one in which the balance of power shifts from the hiring manager to the candidate. In essence, it’s an issue of supply and demand. The best candidates will find work more quickly, and will often be involved in multiple interview processes, with their pick of potential employers.

  • Know your market:

    Market mapping is an often overlooked, but fundamental step in any hiring process. There’s almost guaranteed to be more than one external factor at play at any one time, in any one market. Having an awareness of the micro and macro trends within your market will help in being agile towards any developments. The Gillespie Manners Executive Search methodology places an emphasis on market mapping for these reasons. It’s always the first step our teams undertake on an Executive Search project.

  • Target inactive candidates:

    The best employees often aren’t actively job-searching. An inactive, or passive candidate is an individual currently in employment, and not actively looking for a new opportunity, but open to discussing one. Though inactive candidates usually offer a high standard of experience and expertise, identifying and delivering them requires a specialist approach. At Gillespie Manners, we specifically target and head-hunt for every project we manage.

  • Prioritise a cultural-fit:

    A similar view to the old adage, ‘Hire for passion, train for skills’. With a distinct workplace culture playing an integral role on business success according to 94% of executives, the importance of securing a candidate with the right cultural-fit for your business is undeniable. Hiring based on culture can increase employee retention, job-satisfaction and even revenue. With this in mind, taking an adaptable approach to hard skills and experiential requirements for a role, and emphasising culture in a search could help you to secure better talent long-term.

  • A flexible approach to working:

    Now more than ever, my colleagues and I are regularly experiencing questions like, “What’s the flexible working policy?” and “How many days in-office are expected?” from candidates. Though it might not be for everybody, the last two years have shown that employees can be trusted to work from home, in their own hours, and operate successfully with autonomy over their environment. Being open to flexible working styles is one way to broaden your net when it comes to your talent search, and based on my experiences, it’s something we’ll be seeing a lot more of.

Finding and securing the right talent for your business can be a challenge, even at the best of times. Without a dedicated talent function, many start-ups, challengers and SMEs can struggle to dedicate the right resources to a search. Even armed with internal resourcing teams, larger enterprises can still encounter barriers when resourcing for senior and C-level roles owing to the niche nature of their requirements, and therefore smaller candidate pools.

At Gillespie Manners, we specialise in providing Retained Executive Search services specifically designed to suit a variety of recruitment needs, adaptable to your business environment, industry and project size. If you have any questions about the current market, the trends and challenges in hiring for your industry, or want to find out more about how we can support with your search, call 01442 878138 or drop me a message.

Wayne Passmore is Manager of the Retail, Robotics & Supply Chain Technology division at Gillespie Manners Search and Selection. He’s spent the last 17 years resourcing mid to senior and C-level roles globally.

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