Blog 9 - Shortage? What Shortage?

As we approach the end of 2017 labour and skills shortages are almost daily headlines and although a topic I have commented on previously it is also one that does not appear to be going anywhere soon and as a Recruitment Business finding innovative solutions is the constant focus of attention.

Our business is to source and provide our clients with excellent candidates for whatever roles they want to fill and we have always prided ourselves on our track record of success. In common with other Labour Providers we find this is, for now at least, becoming more and more challenging due to a wide spread shortage of job seekers whether seasonal, temporary, or permanent. This year, for the first time ever we found that meeting all requirements of food industry clients in the run up to Christmas was extremely challenging and the thought of potentially failing them, in even a small way, horrified me. We engaged with our clients and jointly explored how to achieve required numbers and with commitment and flexibility from both parties we succeeded.

It is easy to blame “The Brexit Effect” and this has undoubtedly impacted on the availability of European workers but it is little more than a decade since we first had the benefit of European workers in high numbers and so I do sometimes wonder why the ratio of UK born workers is so low in relation to our migrants in some sectors where businesses are claiming that they will potentially struggle to grow further with their current workforces. The current political climate isn’t helping the situation as so far the Brexit negotiations appear to have done nothing to resolve the issues facing recruiters.

 The Association of Labour Providers (ALP), our Professional Trade association states “The food and agricultural sectors are facing the most severe labour shortages in living memory” The food & drink manufacturing sector will require 109,000 staff over the next decade in order to meet government targets. Food & Drink is the largest field of manufacturing in the UK and is worth more than £96 billion. The greatest talent shortages are senior roles within science and development, however there is thought to be a need for nearly 50,000 production staff. 


Can recruiters minimise or negate the shortage?


With the number of active job seekers falling, simply knowing the right people is becoming ever more important for recruiters. Networking has always been considered a key technique for successful recruitment , however modern social media methods aren't always as effective when the competition is crowded and the shrinking talent pool is disengaging as although  built on the idea of 'communication' and 'relationships,' these don't always provide a meaningful connection. 

Luke Todd, Recruitment Director at LTR Executives agrees, stating that: "Recruiters who think they can sit behind a computer and message all day long don't have the personal touch which is built from phone and face to face meetings. One phone call or meeting is better than a thousand messages."

With this in mind, it might be worthwhile to revert to more traditional methods of networking in which personal relationships may offer more value than social media connections and are also more likely to deliver longer term relationships. 


 Having a strong image in the recruitment market will allow you to attract new candidates and limit the amount of blind talent chasing but although a few flash successes can help build an initial reputation, brand and reputation building is a long term project that never really has a completion date. Remaining active in the market for a significant period of time enables you to build a level of credibility that is important when looking to attract hard to find candidates. Trust can go a long way in recruitment, as candidates are more likely to engage with people than companies

Luke Todd, said: "Continuity of employment creates a stable business and a profile for candidates / clients to know and trust you as a market leader in your chosen area of recruitment. This sounds basic, but do the basics well and the rest will fall into place."

Exploring new social media platforms

While social media may not offer the personal connection of a face to face meeting its platforms are still an important method of reaching out to a vast talent pool and a key method in the job seekers journey. Unfortunately, every recruiter uses social media to source talent and this has led to competitive platforms.

Developing a presence in a less crowded marketplace can help you stand out and find candidates that others may not have access to. 

So what lesser used social media channels can we explore? 


 One of the most effective ways of attracting passive candidates is to sell your story, and as the old adage goes, a picture paints 1000 words. Instagram is ideal for this and giving users a 'behind the scenes' look at your business.


Another visual platform that is often ignored by agencies and consultants. Similar to Instagram in some respects, Pinterest is a multimedia sharing site that has more than 10 million monthly users. Although it's often regarded as one of the more personal social networks, a recruiter presence can still be leveraged to find passionate candidates. Of course, very few Pinterest users will be using the platform to actively find work, but this doesn't mean that they won't engage with you if you're pushing something that they're passionate about. 

Industry forums

Slightly away from traditional social networks, industry specialist forums offer a great resource for finding specifically skilled candidates. These online communities provide a little corner of the web for people of a certain profession to gather and discuss all things to do with that field. In fact, some of you may already be members of recruiter groups and do the same. 


What about attracting reluctant applicants?

As with any commodity, if there's a shortage, the value goes up. This certainly applies to recruitment and skilled candidates do know their worth in the current market. This means that trying to attract in-demand professionals from one position to another can be an arduous endeavour, especially if the financial reward is at a minimum.

 Luke Todd, said: "Top candidates know their value, so trying to get them a £10,000 raise to move can often be a difficult task. This is something that we have to get around to be successful."

This is where you have to balance the fact that you're working on behalf of the employer, but also need to develop a personal relationship with the candidate

I don’t have all the answers but have maybe just given some food for thought; honesty and transparency in all client dealings have stood our company in good stead and we will continue to work our socks off to meet their needs.