Why you’re working harder than ever to find the right people – Sean O’Sullivan SOS Executive Search

We were delighted to welcome Sean O’Sullivan to speak at our Bondholder Breakfast in March., Sean explored the changes that all employers and employees have experienced while either trying to fill vacancies, or take the next step in their careers, over the past two years.  

There are currently 1.1 million job vacancies in the UK. That’s 328,000 more than in the three months between January and March 2020, back before the pandemic hit. The pandemic has caused a cultural shift in the way we work and live right across the country, and despite such a high number of vacancies, it’s now taking longer for firms to hire new employees. This is partly because candidates are being far more discerning about the roles they’re looking for, and the record number of businesses making counter offers to employees who are considering leaving their positions.  

“Employers are learning that retaining their staff is better, less disruptive and more cost-effective in the long term than having to hire replacements,” Sean explained. “The number of counter offers being made to potential leavers is 10% higher than it was before the pandemic. Add to that an increased sense of loyalty that many staff have to those employers who looked after them well during Covid, and the active talent pool is now significantly smaller. That’s why businesses are having to work harder than ever to find the right talent to join their companies.” 

It’s certainly true that salary is no longer the single biggest motivating factor for a candidate to choose a new position. Increasingly they also want to know about a business’ office culture, its wellbeing policy, environmental credentials and whether or not the business permits hybrid working, and to what extent. 

So, what does this mean in practical terms? 

Sean explained that for candidates this means more choice, an expectation of better benefits and long-term career opportunities to encourage them to choose a particular position. While, for employers, longer lead times between advertising and filling a vacancy are making it harder to find the right person for the role. They are also increasingly having to look internally at what benefits they can offer a new hire, so they can market themselves as having a truly market-leading proposition.  

Sean said: “Employers now have to be more compelling than ever. They need to market their brand as a ‘talent destination’, and be prepared to take the time to search and source the right person for the job – and be prepared to negotiate.” 

Sean explained that he is seeing increasing numbers of employers turn to recruitment and headhunting agencies to support them in this process, and to help them find an attractive shortlist of candidates as quickly as possible while also making sure they find the right person for the job. 

“Our clients tell us they’re looking for quality candidates and assurances that they will only be sent details of those with extremely strong credentials,” he said. “Hiring mistakes cost UK businesses billions every year, with the Recruitment & Employment Confederation estimating that a poor hire even at mid-manager level can cost that business more than three times that person’s salary in terms of wasted training, lost productivity and increased staff turnover. That’s why employers turn to us to help them get their recruitments right first time.” 

SOS Executive Search specialises in matching excellent candidates with exciting roles across the building products industry and beyond. You can find out more about SOS’ work here