Posted on 27/10/2021 by Matt Fox
WHAT CANDIDATES WANT IN THE POST-COVID JOBS MARKET
The Coronavirus has turned the world of work on its head in more ways than one. Going into 2020 we had a very healthy jobs market, but coming out the other side of numerous lockdowns and an awful lot of uncertainty, the demand for candidates now far outstrips the number of people actively seeking new roles. This is by far the biggest candidate shortage anyone here at Dynamite HQ can remember experiencing.
Why is it so hard to recruit right now?
There are a number of factors impacting the current candidate shortage. Brexit has led to massive immigration changes which mean previously plentiful foreign talent is now in short supply. Additionally, many companies have taken more aggressive measures to retain talent, choosing the cost of higher wages over the extra expense of replacing tenured and experienced team members. Those factors, together with the post-pandemic rise of online-only businesses offering the option to work from anywhere, have all taken a chunk out of what was already a tough market, but one where active job seekers were nowhere near as hard to come by as they are now!
Then there is the reality of the uncertainty caused by Covid. In many cases, even candidates who might previously have been considering their career options have now taken a better the devil you know approach, staying put until the world gets back to normal.
And yet, even though we are well on our way to a new kind of normal, candidate movement in the jobs market still hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels.
That means any hirers looking to fill positions need to offer the most compelling package possible to entice top talent to make a move. Re-evaluating job requirements post-COVID-19 and altering what you’re looking for could be one strategy. But in truth, you might also have to make some fundamental changes to your organisation’s expectations and culture in order to attract the kind of people who can push your business forwards.
Which leads us to ask…
What matters to candidates in a post-COVID world?
These are the top six things we’re finding could convince quality candidates to make a move, even in this period of ongoing uncertainty.
1. Efficient and adaptable recruitment and interview processes
In a jobs-driven marketplace where you’re getting tens of applications for every open role, you can pretty much set any interview process you like. But in a world where candidates are already on the fence about even applying, let alone making a move, that’s more likely to turn candidates off the idea of joining you altogether. What candidates want in the post-Covid jobs market is an efficient, one or two-stage interview process that’s scheduled quickly, managed end-to-end with a clear contact point for their questions, and can flex to incorporate video calls if needed, as well as in-person interviews. After all, if they’ve just spent the lion’s share of the past 18 months talking to their current team and clients on Zoom or Teams with no loss of efficiency, why should interviewing to work with your team be any different?
Also, consider the pre-interview tasks you’re setting and how they might be a barrier to entry for some people. Getting someone to show their skill set by sending a piece of creative work or presentation along with their CV is sometimes necessary, but the more involved you make these tasks, the more they’re likely to cause candidates to think twice. A brief with a few hundred words could be a good idea; but a few thousand could be misreading the room regarding candidates’ inclinations to apply for any roles right now.
2. Flexible working
We mentioned 18 months of video calls above, so this one is a bit of a no-brainer. As we said in our piece on creating a positive work culture, flexibility can mean different things to different people. Some work from home days in the current climate will be a must for the majority of candidates, but you may also want to flex on specific working hours, give people the option to buy or sell holiday days, and even allow staff to accrue flexi-time for extra hours worked, which they can take at a later date. And when you consider most candidates would leave their job for a more adaptable company, it shows that flexibility is what candidates are looking for post-Covid-19, arguably more than anything else.
3. Real career progression and/or growth opportunities
This is another one we mentioned in our positive work culture piece, but it’s worth reiterating here simply because of how challenging the post-pandemic jobs market is proving for hirers. With family time, personal wellbeing and mental health all higher on the agenda after a year or more of lockdowns, candidates currently in a comfortable role will only consider moving for a role that’s worthy of their energy, passion and dedication.
It might be that you’ve always offered great career opportunities, but this is the time to make that evident with your marketing. If you have stories from employees who’ve climbed the career ladder, that content should be all over your recruitment and social channels. Or, if your company is especially good at helping people onto the career ladder, you could even run pieces on early career advice for post-Covid job seekers. Either way, make sure the opportunities are there first and let people know about them.
4. Better benefits
Another aspect of your offering you should sing about from the rooftops is your benefits package. This is much more than a set of job perks – it’s a real selling point for your company in the post-pandemic landscape. In a world where candidates are cautious about moving from a settled company role, being able to give them more time with their loved ones, a better work-life balance, help managing their finances, and support with their mental and physical health – and potentially their family’s, too – can be a massive weapon in your arsenal when it comes to attracting talent.
5. Corporate social responsibility
The post-Covid world isn’t just more health and family-focused – it’s more ethical, right across the board. People love working for a place that does good and gives back, and they often want to be involved in projects that give them a warm fuzzy feeling. If what candidates are looking for post-Covid-19 is a sense of fulfilment, then promoting your CSR endeavours, and showing potential employees how they could contribute to them, can be an incredibly attractive recruitment tool right now.
6. The personal touch
When it comes down to it, all of the points we’ve made so far show that what candidates want in the post-Covid jobs market is to be treated like people with their own lives, passions and personal priorities – rather than as simply workers or company resources.
Employees – including those who might potentially work for you – want to know companies are considering health and safety measures after the pandemic, and that they’ll be in a supportive environment if they develop Covid or another potentially serious illness. So, if your HR team can illustrate how far your team goes to consider people’s health and safety, it will go a long way to alleviating candidates’ fears about moving companies. And once you’ve done that, you’ll be a step closer to bringing them on board and showing them everything you have to offer!
Is your business set up to attract top talent post-Covid?
At Dynamite, we have access to a pool of top talent across key industries including commercial, financial, prestige retail, accountancy and IT. We can also take on your entire recruitment function, advertising and vetting candidates for you from our offices in Hampshire.
To find out how we can help, get in touch today.