Are you employing the right skills to meet the challenges facing the recruitment industry?

It’s a strange quirk of the business that recruiters face a double-edged sword when it comes to customer service. On the one hand they are representing a client keen to hire the best whilst at the same time striving to maintain a loyal base of candidates searching for that dream job.

Apart from the obvious juggling required in matching skills to job requirements, recruiters must also be seen to be equally on the side of both parties when it comes to what one is prepared to pay and what the other is prepared to accept. And if all that Henry Kissinger type diplomacy isn’t enough, the pace of change in respect of the job market, along with the constant advances in technology, can mean sleepless nights for a number in the industry.

I can do that

A glance at a newspaper or the internet will quickly highlight a recurring theme among experts; there aren’t a lot of people around that can actually do that. The skills shortage in the UK is probably the biggest issue facing the industry and in some sectors the numbers are quite staggering.

Whilst fanfares hail the potential positive impact on the economy generated by Tech City or Silicon Roundabout, the reality is that the number of people graduating in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is only just under half of the number required. And with 62% of UK firms apparently looking to increase their IT spend this year it’s not surprising that estimates put a figure of over half a million on the number of vacancies smaller businesses are currently struggling to fill.

Retention contention

The obvious upshot of any skills shortage is that it creates a candidate’s market and 2015 is certainly panning out that way. The issues for recruiters and employers in this situation are many.

Figures indicate that a large proportion of employee turnover within a UK company is both voluntary and preventable. Given this it is clear that retaining good talent is as tricky as finding new, and with an increasing number of employers chasing too few suitable candidates, rates will only increase resulting in an increased threat of losing out to someone making a better offer.

It goes without saying that a good recruiter will know full well what the current going rate is for any number of positions. If not then it’s probably time that they circulated their own CV in another direction. The hard task is often persuading clients that last years’ package no longer applies and if they don’t sharpen their pencil in respect of salaries, bonuses and incentives the vacancy will remain just that.

Maximise IT or lose it

Finding staff has moved on long way since the days of “write to us enclosing your CV” however the speed with which technology changes these days needs constant monitoring. Most recruitment businesses have happily embraced the internet as a base for their operations but developing systems to maximise coverage can be costly and is often deferred.

With the majority of job seekers using tablets and smartphones these days it is essential to have a mobile responsive site. After all, if they can use their phone to order a pizza and switch their heating on they expect to be able to upload a CV with it.

Payday mayday

Funding concerns are not exclusive to recruitment businesses of course and the usual disciplines apply in respect of keeping an eye on cashflow. The major cause for disruption in this area generally affects the temporary sector and happens when payday arrives but the client’s invoice is still outstanding.

Luckily the existence of a signed timesheet can usually overcome liquidity problems and most funding providers, particularly those outside of the traditional lending arena, view manpower services as vanilla business. And with many providing additional back office and payroll services they can remove other headaches from recruiters allowing them to do what they do best, placing people.

Comply or be hung out to dry

As if all of the above weren’t enough to keep recruitment business occupied there are also plenty of statutory requirements constantly being introduced or amended. In particular those involved in temp or contractor placements must stay on the right side of Revenue & Customs and ensure they are compliant with any changes to worker’s rights on things such as holiday pay and maternity/paternity leave.

Those businesses placing agency workers now also have the issue of auto enrolment in a workplace pension scheme to add to the mix. This involves a cost, administration, tweaks to software (or the purchase of a new package) and the conundrum of where to offset the costs.

Although the very nature of agency work might suggest that the sector will see the greater number or worker opt outs from the scheme it is still an issue that needs careful consideration. And any thought of “encouraging” workers to opt out should be dismissed unless there is enough cash in the bank to pay the hefty fine for doing so.

If you are reading this and worrying you are not alone; a recent survey revealed that 41% of those recruiters approached had compliance and legislation at the top of their list of concerns.

So, if small print and legal jargon are like a foreign language it makes complete sense to speak to someone who can interpret them and keep your business within the rules and regulations.