The War for Talent Returns

After 18 months of a quiet job market it seems that the employee now holds all the cards and is stuck for choice! With the ONS reporting record numbers of vacancies in the last few months there seems, as ever, to be a shortage of skilled candidates to fill them all. Enter the ‘war for talent’.

This is a great expression and neatly sums up the skills shortages in the UK and the need for businesses to ‘go to war’ to find and attract talent for their businesses, as well as retain it. I can’t remember when it was first used but it must have been in the noughties (or earlier) and has since come back to haunt businesses many times. A good time to be a candidate looking for a new role!

Whilst many articles are written about the war for talent and how businesses need to put recruitment as their number one priority, it doesn’t always feel that way with clients. We, and the candidates, do understand that line managers and directors have a business to run but you do wonder sometimes if the client does indeed understand that there is a war for talent out there! Long delays in decision making, periods of no communication and job offers with unattractive salaries and terms are quite usual.

Some clients even suggest that all you have to do is talk to (or email) a few candidates (off a database naturally, or from a competitor via LinkedIn) and they will be lining up to join their firm! Some are more clued up though and realise that even if we find a scarce candidate their current employer will not let them go that easily as they will then be back in the war for talent themselves.

Employees today (particularly the younger generation) want to join companies that put them first, provide great working environments, are socially responsible, have good salary packages and give flexibility when it comes to remote working and well-being.

So, does the war for talent mean that you need to do things differently to find and attract talent? Aggressive searching, overinflated salaries and benefits, signing on fees, kidnap and extortion? Perhaps not.

But you do need to realise that it is not just about recruiting talent but also keeping it within your business which is a long term project. When you find the talent you require your onboarding processes should make them feel welcome and familiarise them with your business. You just need to hope that you get a payback before they leave to further their career (or join a competitor). Some reports recently have suggested this might be as little as two to four years for a star employee.

In todays, fast moving business world, can we afford that time? More importantly, are the aspirations and offerings of a company matching those of the candidates? War for talent indeed.