Q1 Market Insight Report

Q1 Market Insight Report

Without putting too fine a point on it, last year was difficult… but for those of you who know me, you’ll know I like a challenge!

I guess that means I’m in luck because all indications suggest that 2024 is set to be another tricky year in the talent stakes. The issue with last year though, was that it was challenging for us for all the wrong reasons.

As is always the case after periods of economic uncertainty, businesses focus on the more tangible elements of cost savings and when it comes to recruitment, that usually involves the agency fee.

Those of you who have worked with our team at Signature will know that we won’t compromise on quality, so many of the challenges 2023 presented for us was because many of the agencies we were competing against were aggressively slashing their prices (and subsequently their standards). Often this was too attractive a proposition for potential clients, but as they say, if it sounds too good to be true, it generally is!

Of course, scrimping on your talent strategy is neither beneficial in the long term (diminished employer brands are notoriously difficult to turnaround), but are also pretty ineffective in the short term. Hence, why we have had a particularly busy start to the year as many businesses have again come to this realisation.

In fact, data coming out of Q4 of 2023 suggests that those who persist with a cost-focused recruitment strategy through the upcoming year, are likely to bear the brunt of challenging market conditions. This is because despite rising wages, real pay has only grown by 1.3% on the year, the result being that 4 in 10 adults struggle to pay their energy bills and a third are struggling to afford rent.

The outcome of this? 29% of candidates cited ‘seeking a higher salary’ as the primary reason behind their resignation in the last quarter of 2023.

All of this makes for 2024 being a difficult year for all the right reasons (well, for us at least), because it is the challenge of attracting the best candidates for our clients where we excel. Unless, of course, you’re planning on pitching your roles at 30% above the market rate, in which case you may get by without us!?

The broad outcome of the current economic climate is that employers are looking for talent they can invest in whilst focusing on retaining their workforce. What this means for businesses who need to recruit, is that they are competing with the vast majority of other businesses who are looking for ‘value-add’ candidates. However, these talent pools will be more passive than ever as their employers try to shield them from external opportunities.

This struggle has been evidenced by an increased time-to-hire of 9.4% being experienced by business in the second half of last year. This will likely have been exacerbated by high levels of employment coupled with economic activity. 

All in all, those looking to recruit this year are going to need to communicate a compelling opportunity into the job space if they are to capture the imagination of increasingly passive candidates without having to pay through the nose on salaries.

Unfortunately, this can’t be done on the cheap, even if you don’t mind the long-term implications this has on the perception of your employer brand, so, if you want to find the best candidates in the market you’ll need to take a tailored and targeted approach to gain access to them. 

Think about how many ‘mailers’ you’ve had, or speculative approaches on LinkedIn about job opportunities, then consider how effective these were at getting you to consider leaving your job to take one up somewhere else?

The same applies for the type of talent you want to join your business, which is a great starting point for your talent strategy. If you need external support, or even if you’re looking to reach out yourself, the first question you need to ask yourself is how your opportunity will be represented, because that, more than anything, is what will be the defining element of a successful talent attraction strategy in 2024!

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