Securing top talent in a turbulent climate

Written by
Changeboard Team

07 Jul 2011

07 Jul 2011 • by Changeboard Team

The war for talent is back

Widespread debate on unemployment figures, a key economic indicator, masks a bigger problem for HR Directors and resourcing teams - finding and attracting professionals with the skills and experience needed for the business to perform well in a turbulent environment.

The war for talent is back. Employers are struggling to fill vacancies, and there is little movement in the recruitment market. Furthermore, jobseekers are flooding potential employers with unsuitable applications, slowing the recruitment process and making hiring more difficult.

CIPD findings

These are the main findings of the 15th Resourcing and Talent Planning survey from the CIPD, produced in association with Hays. The results show that despite a greater number of people in the labour market, three-quarters (75%) of organisations experienced recruitment difficulties this year, largely due to a lack of necessary specialist or technical skills.

Managers or professionals and technical positions are the most difficult to fill. Indications are that sought-after workers are staying put in their current roles, preferring the devil they know in the current climate to uncertainty elsewhere.

Competition for talent increasing

As a result, more than half of employers (52%) believe that competition for talent is even greater, compared to 41% and 20% in 2010 and 2009 respectively.

Employers are also more demanding, reluctant to compromise on skills, qualifications and experience when filling vacancies. But with little movement in the labour market, and a mis-match between the skills sought and those available the labour market, alternative strategies need to be considered. 

Effect on the public sector

It should come as no surprise to find that it’s the public sector where resourcing is hardest hit, with four-fifths (82%) of organisations here reporting their resourcing budgets will be reduced (up from 59% last year). 

Public sector organisations are also twice as likely to be implementing a recruitment freeze in 2011, and it may not yet have felt the full impact of cuts and reductions.

Impact on recruitment

Issues such as the recent abolition of the Default Retirement Age (DRA) are also having an impact on recruitment; a substantial number of organisations report that the low number of vacancies they currently hold is likely to be further affected by this, as workers stay on longer.

This trend could be further bad news for jobseekers, and a resulting reduced intake of graduates will hinder organisations building long-term talent pipelines. Employers are concerned that rising tuition fees may result in fewer graduates entering the employment market.

So what can be done?

Less than half of employers indicate they have implemented a formal resourcing strategy, which suggests some organisations are just not investing the time required to secure future talent. It’s important organisations have a thorough understanding of the current skills held in the business and future capabilities that will be required.

This is a critical first step to identifying what recruitment is needed. Once a vacancy is identified employers must also act swiftly; one in three organisations believe that the length of their recruitment process has led to the loss of potential recruits.

Many employers are actively engaging with Government policies aimed at supporting jobseekers to help close skills gaps, such as increasing the use of apprentices, sponsored university places or interns. But employers should do more to communicate to potential employees the skills needed both now and in the future.

This will help young people, workers and jobseekers orientate their development to meet demand. Investing in the brand and positioning the organisation as an employer of choice will help attract the limited talent available.

The importance of talent management

External recruitment partners can also be a more efficient way to access high quality candidates in a tough recruitment market; the better recruiters know and understand the business, the better quality candidate they can provide. From a practical standpoint, significant amount of time and money can be saved by using a third party, rather than sifting through large numbers of unsuitable applications submitted by jobseekers.    

The CIPD and Hays findings show that talent management is viewed as more, not less, important in difficult times, and it’s not hard to see why. Finding the right people with the right skills to move the business forward has rarely been so valued. But with reduced budgets, organisations will need to be innovative in their approach, and focus on a strategy to deliver long-term business success, beyond short-term cost-cutting.