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Competition for tech talent is fierce as ever despite the pandemic's effect on business

27 January 2021 by Darren Hall
Screenshot 2021 01 27 At 08

What do the recent  headlines about waves of redundancies, unemployment figures spiking and a general recruitment slowdown mean for companies trying to find talent? Suddenly, you might expect to find talented workers more easily due to an abundance of candidates on the market. While this may be the case in some of the hardest hit sectors like hospitality, in most technology sectors, things are different. Competition for talent is still fierce and it’s not getting easier for employers. 

Many sectors have remained resilient in the face of a severe global downturn in the economy. Some areas including Technology, Fintech, Regulatory and Compliance have seen a much smaller dip in new vacancies being advertised than other sectors, since the start of this downturn, and companies have been keen to hold on to skilled specialists in these areas as much as possible. 

Despite the downturn, the pandemic has provided opportunities in some areas, as organisations sought to improve cyber security with employees working from home and raced to adopt technological innovations to remain competitive. As a result, there  has not  been a large increase in available technology candidates, and companies are  fighting  once again over candidates with specialist knowledge.     

Before the pandemic, the market was candidate driven market due to low unemployment paired with increasing demand for talent. A survey from CareerBuilder in 2019 reported that job-hopping was on the rise with 29% of people regularly searching for a job while employed and 51% of respondents admitting to looking for jobs while background checks were going through; despite having a solid offer! But it’s likely that these habits will have been changed dramatically by the pandemic’s effect on business as candidates hunker down in secure jobs. 

We have found that the tech job market has been impacted somewhat  by a fear of moving jobs. The best potential candidates are less willing to leave a secure position and take a risk in moving jobs when business is precarious for so many organisations.  So while some markets are flooded with candidates, tech is not. It remains as hard as ever to source  and attract  the most talented tech candidates.   

What about when business gets moving as normal and candidates are more willing to leave jobs? 

Finding talent doesn’t suddenly get easier when you have a lot of good applicants available for work, because fundamental recruitment challenges don’t change that much. Just because there are more candidates, it does not mean the right one is looking in the right place! The role of the specialist recruiter in identifying the best talent and helping them make the next move to the right job is still invaluable.

Specialist recruitment companies develop their market knowledge and network of skilled candidates over many years and through working niche areas. Dedicating entire teams to understand and immerse themselves in these niches means they find, connect and engage  with candidates  who have developed  specialist skills and the highest reputations before clients are even looking to fill a gap. That’s how the best recruiters are able to make sure they select the best candidates for clients' positions quickly. Specialist recruiters rarely use job boards and don’t rely on job adverts  as they already know their markets and are connected to the best talent.

If you’re working with a long-standing  recruitment  consultancy that has experience of staffing through downturns and recessions, you will find that their focus goes beyond filling vacancies. At Skillfinder,   I  expect my team to provide clients the reassurance that they have access to the best resources in the market and shouldn’t have to rehire again - they find the right people that stick around. It’s far too easy to make costly mistakes when recruiting in a downturn if your process is focused too heavily on skillset rather than looking at a potential employee holistically. Good recruiments will guide you into taking a broader view when considering a candidate.

It’s also important not to rush the process when there are too many applicants for a job. Specialist agencies manage to deliver quickly, not because they are rushing, but because they are already connected to the best candidates in the market. They have developed their networks over many years and know the candidates with the best reputations. When faced with a new job opening, a specialist recruiter doesn’t have to start the search from scratch or rely on responses from job boards. At Skillfinder, our  recruiting team are always out there looking for good people; so we are armed with a network of candidates whenever clients have a new requirement. It’s an approach that we have found is particularly important for expert-level positions.

Ultimately, a recruitment consultancy’s value is in understanding its clients’ sectors and  the niche they operate in, along with providing specialist market knowledge and insight to clients. For us, this means we are busier than ever making sure we are not just connected but engaged with the new candidates and applicants on the market while maintaining our approach of engaging with the ‘hidden’ talent - the people that haven’t made themselves openly available for jobs.

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Skillfinder has led the way in developing a broad range of service offerings for clients who wish to outsource their internal recruitment function.  We have a full managed-service-provider (MSP) solution, whereby we can manage the whole recruitment function to help save our clients money. We also offer a ‘mini-MSP’ service for SMEs - a retained service that provides a competitively priced, high quality service as well as more traditional account management and specialist contingent recruitment solutions. Skillfinder embraces technological innovations that help drive a better service, whilst also retaining the personalised approach that most candidates come to expect. Contact me if you would like to know how we can help you navigate to the right talent for your team.