Is it too late to avert a “two-speed” employment market in Finance? Employers ARE being left behind by candidates.

The headline may appear a little unfair on finance and accountancy. The truth is more sectors are being afflicted by supply and demand challenges. Yet, as we blogged recently Finance is the fulcrum to an evolving, effective business.  If employers are to grow their businesses with the very best candidates filling contingent and proactive roles processes, culture and mentality will require changing. No longer will the business’s good name be enough. Candidates are lucid, visceral and determined; the sooner these businesses awake from their slumber, the better.

There is definitely a short- and long-term view to addressing the talent you need to continue your business’ upward propulsion. Recruiting the right talent can have an impact on the efficiency of your business. This is the short-term view of recruitment – clients are repeatedly dithering when recruiting as they are so adamant on hiring the right people. By which time, the candidate you’ve taken the time to interview may have moved on to another role. And the process starts again. It’s a vicious circle.
Interview is just the first step, if the candidate is still available

The paucity of good quality candidates means clients are scared of getting it wrong when appointing. With soft – interpersonal – skills taking an enhanced importance over technical ability, what if the candidate convinces the employer of their attitude and aptitude in the interview and flops in the job itself?

The culture and mentality of decision-makers has evolved rapidly over the last 10 years, and this not necessarily for the good.

The Credit Crisis – more candidates, increased procrastination from employers

The effect of the Credit Crisis in 2008 and the resulting Recession cannot be underestimated. In general, the recession made employers far more cautious on their recruitment – far more specific on what they are looking for when they are recruiting – particularly the Blue Chips. This is because they want to minimise the risk of people not working out in a position. Since the recession people are working at 100% and there is not spare capacity or headcount so recruiting someone who doesn’t work out wastes a lot of manpower, time and money.  This cautious approach was fine post 2011 when there were lots of candidates on the market but these people now have jobs and unemployment is so low that employers are now all fighting over a small pool of high calibre people. In short, employers need to think and act more decisively. Be creative with the job spec so this gives you more choice.

Blue Chips V SMEs. The same challenges apply?

Every blue chip is looking for recently qualified accountants as they feel they are technically up to speed, hungry to progress yet willing to learn. Furthermore they will do the hard yards to ensure the work gets done and their reputation is enhanced.  Hence there is huge competition for these people.

In this market, it is not uncommon for candidates to get 3+ offers. Clients are not moving quickly enough nor aggressively to secure the talent they want and need. Hence the phrase “war on talent”.

The SME market has certainly picked up but took longer to improve post-recession. Aspirational SMEs need extra people to manage and drive their growth, and they go about their recruiting much like a pack of dogs feeding on their prey after a bigger predator has finished. Fortunately SMEs are normally more flexible with their recruitment strategy than the Blue Chips so they aren’t finding candidate disappearing from in front of their eyes quite so regularly.

MRK Associates is a leading recruitment agency in the field of finance, accountancy and revenue management roles. We advise our clients closely on the suitability of the candidates. Our integrity and objectivity is applauded by all our clients. That said, some clients have missed out on candidates because they are not moving at the speed of the market and the candidates available. However, the examples where clients have regretted perceived tardiness in their recruitment decisions follow a particular theme:

  • Shortlist provided of c.5 candidates
  • Candidates briefed
  • Recruiting managers not sensing the urgency
  • Client comes back to agency and says would like to see candidates
  • Too late! 4 of the 5 have secured roles elsewhere.

The days of candidates waiting for a client are long, long gone. Clients need to understand they don’t hold all the Aces. Candidates are looking for more than just a brand they once admired.

Passive v Active candidates

Every industry sector is susceptible to uncertainty. A few jittery months from a client and all of a sudden redundancies are being discussed. This is where Active candidates are coming from.  After all, why would a Passive candidate who is settled, valued and not looking to move look at a new employer?

Recruiting organisations need to be creative in talent attraction. The passive candidates are what organisations would love, but Active candidates can also bring a whole host of skills in a portfolio that clients could gobble up. If a candidate is Active due to being a victim of circumstance – this can be explained in that there isn’t a job for life anymore.

How could a recruiting organisation attract wavering candidates?

Here some suggestions that could help you attract more talent. Creativity is the key and is a differentiator.

  • Open succession planning
  • Flexible working
  • Home working
  • Enhanced days annual leave
  • Protected, personal training budget
  • Shares/long term incentive schemes
  • Child friendly schemes
  • Internal team days/events

Is there really a candidate shortage?

This candidate shortage is at every level across the country although it’s always toughest in the South East because of the concentration of Commerce round here. Good candidates who relocate into this area are often placed in three days because there are so many opportunities for a new entrant into the market.

With more and more organisations looking to move out to the regions to access more talent, different skill sets and different expectations, candidates demand isn’t so ubiquitous yet is an increasing threat to continuing productivity and operational effectiveness.



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