What’s that coming over the hill…..???

 In Accountancy, Blog, Uncategorised

What’s that coming over the hill – is it a Monster….?

Crystal ball in hand and tarot cards splayed out I really don’t see anyone being flooded with CVs anytime soon…

I get asked a few times a day what the accountancy and finance market is looking like.

Should we be changing our approach?

Loosely there are 4 types of basic recruitment market (let’s call them zones)

  • Zone 1 – Lots of jobs, lots of candidates
  • Zone 2 – Lots of jobs, few candidates
  • Zone 3 – Few jobs, few candidates
  • Zone 4 – Few jobs lots of candidates

It’s common sense to assume fewer live jobs by virtue means more candidates. But it doesn’t tend to play out like that.

For a while now (certainly in finance & accountancy) we have been operating in market 2 (bags of vacancies and a tight candidate environment) but we are on the cusp of a transition to market 3 (a slowdown in hiring but a remaining shallow candidate pool).

It tends to take a very sudden sharp shock to throw a market straight into zone 4…. namely a rapid relatively unpredicted recession and a swift sweep of redundancies….

Broadly the brown hits the fan across large swathes of business sectors forcing hiring freezes and redundancy programmes.  

I don’t think we are in that play – certainly not yet.

Most bankers, accountants, economists, politicians & lenders are predicting an official recession… we’re kinda expecting it.

But many businesses are trading solidly and have decent pipeline tails…

Many also had a mega 2 – 3 years… and have solid asset / cash reserves….

So I think we will see 12 – 18 months of zone 3….. job volumes will plateau then slowly decline (but from record highs)

But candidate availability will stay tricky…

Loads of ‘candidates’ have recently moved for chunky payrises and to roles with great packages, lots of people stepped into retirement during or following lockdowns, Brexit also thinned out candidate pools…

Others are also already becoming increasingly mindful of the economic headwinds…. Beginning to rate job security higher in their wish-list… so there is pressure on the ‘better the devil you know’ decision making.

If you ask recruiters which market’s they prefer you’ll get differing answers… sometimes you can recruit your whole career in such a niche that you experience very little change (for example if you recruit auditors into professional practice you’ll spend most if not all of your life in zone 2 – plentiful need but shallow candidate pools)…

But in the main you’ll see this:

  • Rookie / less experienced recruiters enjoy zones one and 2 – plenty of jobs. Even a busy fool will make money in zone 1 (provided they keep busy…)
  • Experienced recruiters can usually navigate them all reasonably well…. But in the main Zone 4 is no fun. Lots of job seekers and not enough jobs to go around is pretty bleak for anyone other than the most truly black-hearted of recruiters.

Here’s the bad news: there’s no secret sauce if you are hiring no matter what the current landscape.

Organisations that consistently perform better than others when it comes to recruitment and retention don’t change their approach.

In the main your recruitment methodology shouldn’t alter.

I’ve seen businesses try to take advantage of a zone 4 market (lowball offers, slower processes, slower decisions, less mindful inductions)…

You can ‘get away with it’… but when the market flips to a 1 then a 2 you will take a hammering (for reference see H2 2021 and H1 2022!)

Spend time understanding and communicating your attraction strategy

  • Don’t rush but be decisive.
  • Make recruitment a 2 stage interview process if possible
  • Don’t string it out waiting for benchmark candidates
  • Offer strongly in terms of salary and benefits
  • Offer swiftly
  • Get paperwork out as an urgency
  • Onboard professionally

For all the doom and gloom there seems to be a relative solid floor of recruiting activity coupled with an increasing degree of candidate caution… which will lend itself to another period of challenging recruitment if you aren’t getting your processes and offering right.

If we do experience a jolt into zone 4 for all the temptation don’t ‘take advantage’ of it… if you start to cut corners and we then level out into a zone 1 you’ll likely need to sit in a dark room to relieve the migraine. 

As always, thanks for reading!!

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