Monday, 31 July 2017

Leighton Taylor Summer Report 2017


As we reflect upon a busy year so far, the market remains buoyant.

At Leighton Taylor we like keep our clients as up to date as possible with current market trends, so here are our key points from both a client perspective that we feel would be very useful to take into account moving forward to the latter half of 2017.  

1. How has the recruitment market within the professional services sector been so far this year?
Despite the turbulent political landscape of first half of the year, fortunately the market still remains very strong. Vacancies of all levels are coming in on a regular basis and candidates are still very active in the market. Director level vacancies are fewer, but indeed there are fewer Directors within the marketplace. Firms are recruiting successfully but it is always increasingly competitive for them to source good quality candidates. The market remains very 'Candidate led' – meaning there are more opportunities out there than available, relevant candidates. Very strong candidates may have a number of options to choose from so we would always encourage clients to be quick, flexible & efficient throughout their recruitment processes. Time is always of the essence.

2. What specific candidate or skill shortages have we seen when recruiting in the past 6 months?
We are seeing an increase of broader/hybrid roles particularly in the legal sector. Resource, Programme and Business Manager Positions which often spread across different BD, HR, Finance and IT departments are becoming more common and candidates will often need to be found from other sectors.  Focused roles such as pitch, PR or Digital continue to be difficult to source, purely due to a sheer lack of candidates with these specialist skills. If you can consider candidates with a broader skillset who are looking to move into a specialist role, you'll have a stronger chance of filling the role quickly. Due to the growth of CRM (Account Management) teams in firms over the last few years, in contrast to previous years, we've noticed that there are a lot more CRM (account management) candidates who are looking for their next role.

3. How can firms secure the best candidates?
The million dollar question. Be quick! The firms that have longer recruitment processes and take longer to come to a decision, lose out on the best candidates. We see it happen time and time again, and both firms and candidates are disappointed. Firms shouldn't expect a long shortlist of candidates but should move quickly on strong/relevant candidates as they present themselves. It really is the key to firms securing the better candidates. Also:
• If you are using agencies, think carefully about who you using, and how experienced the consultants are in the sector. The more experienced consultants will be able navigate the recruitment campaign more effectively and are more likely to have access to those few outstanding candidates.
• Provide as much information on the roles as possible and as much feedback on candidates. It helps to keep the candidates positive about your firm and helps the agencies to pinpoint the right people.
• Provide as much notice and availability as possible for interviews. Candidates can afford to be selective so those firms that make it easier for them by providing interview timings that suit, are most likely to be top of their list. We are still getting firms that are expecting candidates to make themselves available for interviews in the middle of the working day and with 24-48 hours' notice. Candidates have to be flexible but they are often having to navigate full-times roles and suspicious line-managers.
• Sell the role during the interview process. Yes it is the time to really find out about a person and that can mean in-depth questioning and a challenging format, but also the applicant needs to come away thinking this is a firm and culture that they want to work in.
• If you are recruiting directly, don’t make the fundamental mistake of not controlling the response. We speak to many good candidates who have had bad experiences in the past with certain firms where they have been left up in the air with no response and feedback. They are unlikely to reconsider that firm.

4. Other market trends
• Over the past 6 months, we have definitely seen hiring managers wanting more for their money. They have higher expectations on a candidate's experience but often will not offer the requisite increase on the financial side. Despite advice from agencies, it can create false starts in the recruitment process often until candidates have been interviewed and there is then a realisation that there needs to be flexibility on salaries. By that point it may be too late!
• We have highlighted previously the necessity for flexibility in the work place and it is good to see some professional services firms really take this on board by offering agile/flexible working practices. There are still far too many however who miss out on very strong candidates because they can't offer the flexibility required from Day 1. The firms who do embrace it, stand to get highly loyal and motivated people who actually end up putting in more time to make up for the flexibility. Those organisations are seen in the market place as forward-thinking businesses that people actually want to work for. You undoubtedly get back what you put in.
• The Counter Offer! Something again we have talked about previously and it seems that these situations are being handled more effectively as potential employers and their recruiters are more aware of this issue. It is still happening though, so it still essential to keep in close contact with new joiners throughout their notice periods.

5. How is the market looking for the next 6 – 12 months and why?
The hope is that politically the next 6 months will be much calmer than the previous 12. Given that the market has remained strong (despite what has been going on), we don’t envisage any major changes in demands or access to talent in the near future. Apart from at the most senior levels (Director/Head of roles), the volume of roles will continue to outnumber strong candidates. Hopefully though professional services clients will continue to adapt and work with a 'candidate led' market.