The candidate’s mindset in 2022

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that it’s a candidate-driven recruitment market. And yet, far too many employers are acting as though the balance of power still sits with them. It doesn’t – and the simple truth is that it hasn’t for quite some time now.

As far back as December 2020, we were seeing clear signs of a candidate-led market emerging, with the number of vacancies starting to outweigh the number of people actively searching for employment. 

Over the last 12 months, this trend has become increasingly pronounced as a growing number of businesses have focused on recovery and growth, with the latest ONS figures revealing that job vacancies across the UK economy have now reached a record high of almost 1.2 million.

It’s a trend that has been felt across many sectors, none more so than finance, with the Covid-19 pandemic spotlighting the vital role finance teams play in guiding businesses through challenging times. As companies look to grow and successfully navigate these testing times, they are placing more emphasis than ever on ensuring they have a strong finance department.

This is clearly good news for job seekers, as the market is flooded with opportunities. But it does present some serious challenges for employers, particularly those who have a misguided hiring mindset – with our recent survey revealing that business leaders consider recruiting quality talent to be the biggest challenge their company faces over the next 12 months.

Don’t expect to see the ‘Great Resignation’ in January

Some employers may well be thinking that January will be the month when the balance of power shifts, with more candidates than ever on the lookout for new roles. But don’t be fooled; we didn’t see the predicted ‘Great Resignation’ during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and we’re not about to see it now. Yes, more candidates are likely to be open to a move in January after reflecting over the Christmas period – but that doesn’t mean they’ll be beating down your door for a job. And it doesn’t really affect demand either, because when someone decides to move jobs in a buoyant market, they create another vacancy behind them when they leave.

In a crowded marketplace, it’s more important than ever that employers ensure that what they are offering is truly competitive and attractive to candidates. Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? But the reality is often very different, particularly for those employers that are still in denial about the power dynamic between a candidate and an employer.

What employers can do to ensure a role is attractive (and competitive) in 2022

With so many myths out there about what candidates are looking for in 2022, it’s not surprising that some employers are confused. It’s with this in mind that I’ve pulled together the following tips to help businesses to maximise their chances of success.

Make the process straightforward and efficient for potential recruits

Too many businesses set up their recruitment process in a way that suggests that they believe they are doing the candidate a favour even considering them for the role. For example, some will insist on rigorous testing before they even entertain the possibility of taking someone on to the first stage interview. Big mistake. By all means test your candidates but do it in the right order – you need to woo them first. Would you go on a blind date with someone who asked you to fill out a questionnaire before they’d meet with you? It’s a bit of a turn off. Showcase what you can offer a potential employee first and they might be more willing to jump through the odd hoop at a later stage. It’s about people, not process. Others claim, when told that a candidate has received offers elsewhere, that the job seeker will wait if they truly want their role. How it tends to play out in reality is that the candidate truly wants multiple roles being offered to them. Their warm fuzzy feeling evaporates pretty quickly with any business stalling at offer stage whilst it builds to an exciting crescendo for those who present an offer swiftly after final interviews are complete. Delaying on an offer for any reason is simple self-deselection.. A lot of potential employers lose candidates due to their hiring process not being candidate friendly. Yes, the recruitment process gives them a chance to assess the job seeker, but the opposite is also true – and potential recruits will inevitably be put off if the process is seemingly too complex or long-winded in comparison with other businesses.

Always state the salary for any role

There’s a misconception amongst many employers that if they don’t disclose the actual salary for a particular role, they will attract a broader range of candidates. What actually happens is that people are put off from applying due to the company’s lack of transparency. Job seekers quite rightly think, if a business won’t even tell me how much they are willing to pay for my services, what else are they not telling me? It leaves a bad impression; after all, if it’s such a ‘competitive salary’, just write it down and let the reader come to that conclusion by themselves.  If you don’t know what you should be paying, make sure you ask an expert instead.

Flexible working is king

The pandemic has changed the rules of the game when it comes to flexible working. Before 2020, it was mainly parents of young children who were interested in flexible working roles. Now it’s absolutely everybody.  Flexible working – both in terms of where and when – is THE biggest want of any job seeker currently. Roles where it’s offered are instantly more attractive – and the opposite is true for roles where it’s not. It’s become a litmus test for candidates to measure how progressive a business is and the importance it attaches to creating the right culture for employees to operate at their best.

Salary remains very important

Flexible working might be at the top of every job seeker’s wish list, but it’s closely followed by a competitive salary. Good candidates are getting more job offers than ever before, so they can afford to be picky. It doesn’t matter how much you paid the last time you recruited the job, what you budgeted for 12 months ago or what you think is ‘reasonable’ pay. Low-balling on salary in this market is just self-sabotage. If you want to save money on your offers, get better at marketing your job at the start of the process and how it can help the individual with what they want to achieve.

Ditch the gimmicky perks

If you’re an employer that offers flexible working, a great salary and an employee-focused culture, you’re never going to struggle to recruit good people.  After all, you’re offering the three things potential recruits care most about in 2022. Don’t be tempted to replace any one of these benefits with gimmicky perks such as high street discount schemes. Nobody ever turned down a role because they couldn’t get 10% off at Argos. Gimmicky perks like these are generally unimportant to candidates and companies are far better off investing their money in areas that potential recruits truly care about, such as staff training and development initiatives.

Invest to ensure you have the right recruitment capabilities

All too often, businesses will skimp on how much they invest in the recruitment process – whether it is run in-house or through an agency – and then wonder why they’re struggling to identify and attract the best people. For most recruitment setups in businesses, cost becomes more of a focus than capability for some reason. This is the wrong approach. If you want to attract the best people to your organisation, it’s absolutely vital that you have a recruitment team in place that promotes the opportunity and manages the process in the right way. If you have an in-house recruitment team, they should be extremely capable at sales and marketing, in person and online. If they’re copying and pasting job specs into templates and calling them ‘adverts’, you have a serious problem. And if you’re partnering with a recruitment agency, do your homework and make sure they really have the capabilities you require. As a rule of thumb, if you’re briefing a recruiter on a role and you’re not convinced that they could sell your job to you, it’s likely that they’ll struggle to sell it to others too.

Interested in hearing more about how we can solve your challenges? We’d love to hear from you.

David Clark

Operations Director

David Clark