Where have all the Good Candidates gone


The term "skill shortage" is more than just a buzzword in the current recruitment landscape. Employers need to use all the tools at their disposal in conjunction with robust strategies for sourcing talent in order make their recruitment process both efficient and cost effective.

According to the latest research, the lack of available talent in the UK job market costs the economy up to £90 billion each year in lost productivity.

So, what does this mean for you?

As Brexit looms closer, the problem is potentially set to increase, with fewer available candidates moving to the UK from around Europe. Some experts believe that we're facing a future where many candidates don't have the right roles to suit their skills.

Let's explore how you can find the ultimate  candidates for your organisation.

Understanding the UK Skill Shortage

The "Report on Jobs" produced by IHS Markit suggests that staff availability has declined by its fastest rate in months. Unfortunately, this means that half of the employers recruiting for permanent positions face a severe shortage of options.

The number of employed people available for each vacancy is falling. In 2016, there were only 2.2 people available for each job vacancy in the UK. Since then, the numbers have dropped even further.

In a skills-short market, some hiring managers are even tempted to settle for an employee that's not suited to their role. Unfortunately, the cost of a poor hire can cost your business more than £132k  according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

The best alternative? Plan your strategy ahead of time and work with a specialist recruitment consultancy who will have access to a comprehensive established 'network' of potentially suitable applicants, who will have a candidate database of ideal applicants and  who will critically  know and understand your market and what works for you.


Finding the Right Candidates Starts With Deciding Who You Want

The first step in overcoming the skills shortage and filling your talent gaps is knowing exactly what you're looking for.

The best commercial employees share a few crucial traits. Knowing what you're looking for from day one speeds up your recruitment process, which means you have a better chance of finding the right candidate before your competitors do.


Ability to Work in a Team

Great teamwork matters in any industry, but it's particularly important in the commercial sector. Commercial employees often work together to solve customer problems and generate additional sales. After all, everyone has a different style of selling and a unique collection of specialist knowledge. If a customer comes to your employee with a problem they can't solve alone, they need to work with their colleagues to find an answer.

The right candidate empowers other team members. They know how to work effectively as an individual and use their initiative, but they're also ready to ask for assistance when they need it.

  1. Knowledge of the Industry

Industry Knowledge
Whether you're hiring a commercial manager, an account manager, or a sales advisor, an employee must understand your industry. The commercial sector is constantly changing to suit the demands of a transforming consumer base. People who keep their eye on market trends will be able to make creative suggestions on how to improve processes and logically performance of their department as a whole.


  1. They Solve Problems Creatively

Problem solving 2
Great  employees are also excellent problem solvers. In an agile industry, they know it's essential to adapt to change quickly and pivot when necessary. When something doesn't go according to plan, the right talent doesn't panic. Instead, they work with their team to find the best solution to the issue.

The best employees also know how to own their mistakes and learn from them too. A candidate who has struggled in the past isn't necessarily a bad choice for your business, particularly if they've grown from their mistakes and taken onboard the valuable feedback they often provide.

For instance, someone who went over a deadline in the past may now know how to manage their time more efficiently.


  1. They Build a Network and Use It

network of contacts


The right employees are also open to accessing the people around them as a vehicle for growth. Your best staff members might have mentors or a rich network on LinkedIn.

For instance, a positive comment about your company on LinkedIn convinces other skilled individuals that you might be better for them than their current employer.

That takes us onto the second stage of recruiting in a skills-short market. Once you've found the right and established what are the right candidates, you need to know the easiest ways to attract them to your business.


Attracting Candidates

Attracting Talent 2-1

In today's complex hiring environment, it's unlikely the best employees will come to you. Skilled individuals are time short too and are more likely to approach a recognised commercial recruiter to represent them during their career progression.

Passive candidates currently make up 70% of the global workforce however in a recent survey these same group of individuals would also be open to an approach by a recruiter.

Economists believe that the skill shortage won't get much better in the years to come. As Gen X leave the workplace, and Millennials become the biggest group of our employees, as employers we need to appeal to their new expectations.

At Lucy Walker Recruitment, we're specialists in appealing to both passive candidates and millennials. Here are our best strategies to position your organisation as an organisation that skilled candidates want to join.


  1. Build Your Company Culture

Company culture 2
Millennials are set to overtake the workforce by 2025. This means that organisations need to develop their brands to attract  a specific group of talent.

The Millennial generation believes there's more to a great job than the right salary. They also want a strong cultural fit that makes them feel like part of a well-connected team. Cultural traits to prioritise today may include:

  • Diversity: Make sure your people feel accepted no matter their age, gender, race, sexuality or any other characteristic. This will also contribute to a more creative team.
  • Communication: Ensure that everyone feels comfortable speaking to each other about their needs and discussing issues they might have. An open-door policy or regular group discussion might be a good idea.
  • Development: Whether it's giving employees a chance to work with new software like "CRM" tools, or just welcoming each staff member with a development plan, make sure your people can see a future in your business.
  1. Promote your Employer Brand

employer branding 4
Your company culture is part of your employer brand. Once you've created a place that your people love to work in, use employer branding techniques to share your reputation with the world. You can do this by:

  • Asking employees to advocate for you: Many staff members are already active on social media. Ask them to give your business a shout-out or leave a positive review on a job forum.
  • Share company stories and case studies on your website: Make it easier for people to visualise what it's like to work for you. A case study or story from a successful employee makes your employer brand more credible. For instance, what happened the last time your team worked with a high-profile customer?
  1. Improve the Recruitment and Onboarding Process
Onboarding 3

A fantastic interview can leave people raving about your business online, even if they don't get the job. This improves your employer brand and helps you to attract more talent in the future.

  • Improve your interviews with competency-based questions: Use competency-based interviews to score each candidate and structure your interview process. For instance, you might ask: "Tell us about the last time you surpassed a sales target for your employer?"
  • Stick to a timeline: In a skills-short market, you can't afford for your hiring process to be slow. Make sure you let your candidates know when they can expect to hear back from you and commit to getting in touch.
  • Onboard effectively: When someone accepts your role, welcome them onto the team properly. Use an onboarding process to introduce them to their responsibilities and work with them to create a development plan. Follow up with regular stay interviews to make sure your employee feels satisfied.

Remember to Work with a Specialist

Finally, remember that the most important thing you can do in a skills-short commercial market is work with a dedicated Consultancy.

With two and a half decades of placing the right candidates in commercial roles, we have built up an extensive network of talent to tap into and an excellent success rate. Many of the passive candidates we refer to above, are candidates we have discussed their career aspirations with over the years and are people we  regularly keep in touch with and who we know we can contact specifically about that next role in their career. These candidates wont be readily hawking the job boards, preferring instead to have faith in us to contact them when we identify the right opportunity in the right environment.

Our expert knowledge also means that you can boost your interview techniques, improve your job descriptions, and increase your chances of getting the best candidate. We can even help you to discover the right salary range for your role, so you're offering an attractive package to each employee.

Don't let the skills shortage undermine your recruitment plans. Let Lucy Walker Recruitment work with you to find the ideal talent, every time.


Can We Help?

Lucy Walker Recruitment has over 25 years’ experience recruiting in the commercial sector across both Leeds and Manchester and has the capability to recruit for every level in your organisation. To find out more call us on Leeds 0113 367 2880 or Manchester 0161 4421. Alternatively email us here.





About the Author: Mark Woffenden

Mark Woffenden is a Director at Lucy Walker Recruitment and has an extensive knowledge of the issues and workings of the West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester Commercial markets developed over the last 20 years in the Industry