Employers are increasing the time they take to decide on who to hire.
At the same time, top grade candidates are realising they have many advantages in an era of skill shortage. An unprecedented demand for graduates means these are testing times for companies needing to fill vacancies. Engineering and rail recruitment specialist ATA’s Managing Director Scott Bulloch explains how some rail clients are underestimating the potential power of quality candidates.
Skills gap in engineering
‘Everyone is aware that there is a skills gap in engineering. In many organisations key skilled labour is rapidly approaching retirement age,’ says Scott. To compensate, organisations seek talented and experienced personnel. The rail industry is no exception.
‘With so many engineering companies forced to close or shed staff during the recession, surely we should have an abundance of available talent for employers to recruit from?’ says Scott. The situation is not as straightforward as many believe. Recruitment agencies trying to get this talent back into work have identified new challenges.
First is the trend that sees some employers taking much longer to decide to offer the job to the candidate. It sounds simple but ATA notes that employers hold off for that ‘perfect’ candidate.
Unwilling to compromise on skill or level of experience, a number of employers were either unwilling or too under resourced to commit the time and money to training people – deciding instead that they would rather just manage with the resource they had until the ideal candidate comes their way.
This indecisive behaviour coincides with a shift of power in the industry and the emergence of a second trend. Top quality candidates now realise that, in an under-resourced market, they have a greater amount of control when it comes to choosing who they work for.
Pick and choose
‘Historically candidates would focus on perhaps one, maybe two roles and await the outcome of those,’ says Scott. ‘However, we have started to note that good candidates realise they are sought after. We are finding that candidates don’t simply rely on one or two vacancies, they have several opportunities open to them at once and when they are ready, they are in a position to pick and choose their employer of choice.
‘This is great for our candidates but it conflicts with the hesitant trend of employers and can mean that by the time they have made their mind up to recruit an individual, he or she has already decided on an alternative role.
‘There are also still high levels of uncertainty within UK engineering and many candidates need to be incentivised to move. This can be in the form of packages but it is also important that candidates see true potential and a secure future with employees.
‘This means that employers also need to try that much harder to promote themselves as an employer of choice and if they use an agency to recruit then they must be confident that the agency is presenting their brand in a favourable and true light.’
A recruitment partner that will truly understand their needs
So with such differing trends, what is the advice for employers and candidates? Scott recommends: ‘Employers and candidates should work with a recruitment partner that will truly understand their needs. At ATA we provide a consultative approach, listening to what our clients require and because we are experts in the market place we can advise them on the realistic nature of their expectations and develop a recruitment methodology that will deliver what they need, first time.
‘For candidates it is important that they also dedicate some time to working with their recruitment agency to identify what is truly important to them. At ATA we manage the application process thoroughly, so that candidates have realistic expectations in terms of packages and the types of organisations that we work with from the outset.
‘There is no point in wasting a client or candidate’s time in the first instance if they aren’t a true match. It is this approach that delivers our success ratio average of 1:3 candidates employed from the interview process with the client.’