Interested in knowing how the recruitment landscape is changing?
Chris Birkedale, Divisional Director at Emerald Technology wraps it all up. Due to the mass amount of companies that are hiring, candidates' bargaining position has changed. What was, a well established client driven market, has transitioned into a strong candidate centric market. It has become extremely competitive for candidates and evidently become more expensive for clients, as salary and package demands increase. In this environment, the only way to be in the running when hiring is to engage with a recruitment consultancy, like Emerald.
ET: In your own words, explain what a candidate driven market is…
CB: So, a candidate driven market is the opposite to a client driven market. What I mean by that is, the candidates to some degree start to gain control. This is because every organisation in our market; tech, is hiring at the moment. So, of course, there is a lot of demand for talent, so the candidates therefore, have a lot of choice. They are in the driving seat. You could describe it as a rat race to find the best talent, and companies will fight for these candidates. It is a candidate driven market because the candidates are in control.
ET: Have you noticed an increase in candidate's bargaining power since the pandemic specifically? - If so, what does this look like? - What are they asking for?
CB: I don’t think the position of the candidates has changed solely because of the pandemic. I think the market is really buoyant, so they have more bargaining power. Candidates will be in 6 processes, with 3 offers on the table, so they will negotiate between the offers. But what has changed is, as we know, a lot of people are working remotely. So, this is a big factor that is reoccurring, candidates want remote based contracts. They are in the mindset of reducing the amount of commuting, and asking questions on the commitment to travel.
ET: So rather than it being because of an external factor like the pandemic, it is just the market in general. Why do you think the tech market is like this at the moment?
CB: It’s just extremely hot at the moment. The level of investment has never been higher in tech, companies are just simply booming. Through the pandemic, our vertical, our sector was probably one of the only ones that really continues to sustain business. Even though it paused for a little while, it carried on. I just think it’s absolutely booming. There is so much investment at the moment, everything’s becoming digital and there are apps for a lot of stuff.
ET: Do you think it will be sustained for the future?
CB: I think so. I mean, we might be in a little bit of a bubble, just the prices people are paying for companies when they acquire them, or going to IPO, it absolutely booming. Everyone is hiring, all over the world. They’re growing globally, they're using this investment money to scale their businesses, so they are just fighting for top talent like crazy.
ET: So, tell us about the whole process. The interview stages, speed of the process and the information provided before and throughout to the candidate. How does this reflect the success of the whole process?
CB: So, the characteristics in the candidate driven market is that some candidates that we approach may be passive, so not actively looking, therefore, aren’t in other processes. But, what we’re seeing is even then, they are getting head hunted so often. If they say yes to one consultancy, they say yes to others. A candidate will not be in discussions with anyone else on day one, but a week later, they have taken 2 other calls, are enrolled in 2 other processes, which just continues to grow to four or five processes the following week. They tend to switch to becoming active during the process.
ET: So, speed is important?
CB: Important, yes. It is really important to the process, we are constantly having to educate our clients and say. “Hey look, it doesn’t really matter how many stages there are, obviously nothing crazy, but it just matters how quickly it can happen.” If it takes too long, they will risk losing the talent.
ET: Ok, so what about the information provided to the candidate?
CB: It’s crucial. Basically, our role is the be the buffer between the candidate and the client. We take the clients message to market and evangelise it as though it's them going to market themselves to attract the best talent. We highlight all the selling points that are important to either that candidate or just people in general in the industry to get them interested. But we also need to get an understanding of a candidate, what their drives and motivators are, what they’re looking for, what is most important to them, what are their push and pull factors in regards to what they’re looking for. We need to educate the client on that. This is to ensure that both parties are on the same page, and they know what each other’s looking for, which provides an insight into the fit of match, and how we can seamlessly bring them together through the process. If we don’t do these things, both the client and candidate can clash unwillingly or unknowingly with one another for some treasuries. So, we have just remain as the buffer between the two.
ET: I can see how that can get challenging, marrying up the requirements of both he client and candidate.
CB: Candidates have choice. We need to make sure that the client is put forwards in the right way. We need to highlight the motivators so we know how to structure our sale. We work with so many amazing companies that have loads of different selling points, but some candidates have a tunnel vision approach, where they will only be focused on certain areas. The interviews can sometimes be challenging to the client to gauge on these motivators to help sell the role and opportunity, so we work as the buffer to help them understand what the candidate is looking for.
ET: So, would this be reflected in the salary and package?
CB: From a salary perspective, yes. In a candidate driven market, inevitably there is a lot of talent, so the salaries start to creep up. Over the last 12 months, salaries have kept rising, and over the last 2 or 3 months, it’s been very noticeable. Clients are paying up, particularly tier one vendors who are fighting for the creme de la creme tier one people. There are now salaries that organisations are paying for individual contributor people, which are the same salaries that they are paying for managers, directors and leaders 18 months ago.
ET: I just finished reading an article that recommended that organisations should be in junior talent pools, so they always have their finger on the buzzer for when they progress. What do you think about that?
CB: I agree with it, the challenge we’ve got is because of the area of the market we work and the roles that we work on, we tend to focus on the more senior roles- head hunts, VP, Directors and Senior Leadership or the senior individual contributor roles. We’re not necessarily on a day-to-day talking to those junior candidates. But talking on the industry as a whole, I 100% agree. For sales for example, the roles of SDR and BDR, which is the first run in the ladder for most people getting into sales, they tend to be junior people, who learn their trade there, who will go on to be rockstar talent. The industry should be generating this rockstar talent through these roles. Then we- Emerald, will catch them in year 3 onwards, in their actual enterprise sales career, and that’s when we work with them, and track their career from there. What often happens, the candidates we have worked with, use us to recruit for them because they see how good the Emerald process is.
ET: Tell us how organisations can attract premium talent. Is communicating the organisations culture and brand reputation a clear win to attract top candidates?
CB: Yes, 100%. We work with many types of roles; product, market, different things. But, sales people, there has traditionally always been an element of making money is the biggest motivator. However, we have seen this soften to other factors are important to them as well. For product, marketing etc, those roles its always been important, it has just increased. So, remote working, flexibility and benefits package needs to be strong, but also, they are interested in the culture of the organisation. We have recognised that candidates want to work for a good team structure, no one wants to be a lone wolf stuck on their own, doing their own thing. They are interested in being apart of the team.
ET: On the topic of flexible working, where is your stance on unlimited annual leave? Have you seen that?
CB: I have seen that quite a few times, I’ve seen it work really well. But, often the expectation is so high from the company, that people tend to take less annual leave than they would have if it was a fixed number. So, it can work the other way.
ET: Ok, so lets get back to it. With recent movements like ‘the great resignation’- is hybrid and flexible working enough to retain employees?
CB: Not in isolation no. People want more, they want to feel valued. They want to develop, they want to build a career- especially the new generations. Development is really important to them.
ET: How can companies combat the impact of external factors like brexit and the pandemic?
CB: Simply, engage with a consultancy like Emerald.
ET: To round up, a trending and controversial topic. In your personal opinion should salaries be visible on job specs?
CB: That is a hot topic at the moment. At the lower level of the market, yes. So if you are applying for a job anywhere between 15-45K, then yes. But when you go to the more senior roles and particularly the roles that we work with, there is such a variance in salary for the same role. By making the salary visible, clients run the risk of candidates ruling themselves out which could be the perfect fit. In these circumstances, I would say no, it can make negotiations more challenging for extra things such as stock and benefits- the whole package.