Recruitipedia: United Kingdom

Welcome to Recruitipedia: ExecutiveSurf’s occasional review of the talent landscape around the world featuring this month, the UK.

The United Kingdom is the oldest staffing market in Europe and the largest in terms of revenue. It is highly fragmented with some 15,000 firms in active operation. Many of the most recognisable global brands such as Michael Page, its early off-shoot Robert Walters, Hays and Antal have now spread around the world whereas many global executive search firms, which are mainly US based have their EMEA HQs in London.

The UK is divided into a few strong regions but far and away its core business driver is London. London has always been a commercial city and today enjoys the status of having one of the largest city economies in the world. The city flourishes in trade and business and has a vibrant culture seeped in commerce. The size of its economy is larger than that of several European nations, in large part driven by its banking heart.

Those financial markets are welcoming the Conservative triumph in the recent general election, despite new uncertainties over the EU referendum and the continuing debate around Scottish independence. Fewer controls from central government may mean more profits for shareholders, which could bring a boost to the economy.

The outlook across the UK is one of growing positivity from both employers and employees alike. Optimism abounds and organisations express the desire to hire new skilled professionals to drive growth plans. Seven out of ten UK employers plans to increase headcount over the next twelve months. Employees are more confident about moving jobs to progress their careers and are less concerned – even enthusiastic about spells of unemployment.

As the market changes, many individuals are becoming more confident to look for new roles and are starting to consider their career options. Looking to 2016, apprenticeships and internal skill development will be crucial, not only to fill key skills gaps, but also to attract and retain professionals by demonstrating a commitment to individual career progression.

Year of the candidate
2015 is expected to shift the power balance between candidates and employers towards a candidate driven market. Given the increased demand in the recruitment market, many candidates who were previously reluctant to explore new opportunities due to harsher economic conditions will be actively looking to discover what is out there. This trend will further drive both the permanent and temporary recruitment market. Recruiters are already having to rethink their approach.

Other recruitment trends like the focus on mobile and social media will also accelerate. Both of these are now consolidated as powerful tools in recruitment, driven mostly by the consumers that use these services more and more.

Mobile Recruitment
Technology is rapidly evolving, with accessibility of devices driving growth in the mobile recruitment space. Many jobseekers actively search using a job search app on their mobile device. This trend is expected to further develop because of the reactivity it allows.

LinkedIn recently punched through 300 million members worldwide (15 million in the UK alone) but with that market dominance, there does appear to be an element of ‘friend fatigue’ (the primary reason why individuals disengage on Facebook for example).
In the UK, the most common response a recruiter will receive from their invitation to connect to a potential candidate on LinkedIn is no response at all. This is because the flip side of a world in which everybody is visible online is that their visibility appears as an open invitation to engage in dialogue. That is emphatically not so.

A direct result of the violently competitive UK recruitment landscape is that historically it has always been fragmented. It’s easy to set up as a recruitment company but the only way to survive against the big guns is to specialise. The net result is a recruitment specialist for every imaginable sector. As soon as any niche becomes crowded (as it inevitably does if there’s money to be made) then further specialisation into smaller sub-niches becomes necessary.
The paradox in the UK is that whilst candidates are tired of being contacted by recruiters who have no idea about the technicalities of their job, by contrast, increasing specialisation means that talent gets split into silos. Any candidate who wishes to move outside of their current sector or discipline faces a perplexing myriad of faceless choices. The same goes for the hiring company.
Generalist job sites no longer work at anything above the most junior levels and specialist job-sites may be, well – too specialised.

Standing out from the crowd in the UK has never been so important and all the indicators are, in the super-connected world, that particular challenge is here to stay.


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