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Talent drought: how to attract the best against the odds

  • April 24, 2018

Commercial talent; often it feels as though there isn’t any! And it’s not just a feeling either; in January, the British Chamber of Commerce published findings that skills shortages in both service and manufacturing industries were reaching ‘critical levels’. The headlines make for sobering reading, although it’s not all doom and gloom. Businesses can take specific steps to give themselves a much better chance of attracting, and retaining, the very best talent: a strong employer brand and a reliable recruitment partner could make the difference your company needs.

Building a brand: need to know

If asked to name a famous brand, there’s probably half a dozen or more that you could name off the top of your head. We’ve all heard of consumer brands like Coca-Cola, but what about employer brands?

An employer brand should be to your potential employees what your market branding is to the people that buy your products and services. It should be appealing and should essentially portray your business as a desirable place to work – as it is, no doubt. An employer brand might showcase the following aspects of your company:

  • Success stories – what kind of achievements have your staff made since working in your company?
  • Culture – is it work hard, play hard, or do you encourage staff to pursue a healthy work/life balance?
  • Quality of work – is the work varied, challenging and interesting?
  • Training and development – what opportunities are there to enhance skills, and how might a candidate grow their career with you?
  • Benefits – apart from salary and financial reward, what are the benefits of working for your business over and above another?


Post-recession and post-Brexit, those on the lookout for a new job want to know that the company they decide to work for is a solid investment of their professional time and skills. Businesses need to reassure potential candidates that their prospects are good and that the company offers a good fit in terms of values.

A strong employer brand shouldn’t just work to attract new talent, it should help to retain existing talent. In fact, one of the most effective ways to devise a strategy for creating an employer brand is to communicate with your existing staff. Find out what motivates them, what they would like to see more or less of, and how their experience could be improved upon and you’ll have a good idea of what potential employees are looking for.

Getting the right support for your employer brand

Having an employer brand is valuable and should pay dividends in the long term. A great employer brand, however, takes time to create, establish and maintain. And all the while the war for talent rages on. The very best talent work hard and it’s hard work to attract them to your company too!

A recruitment partner that works in the background while you concentrate on your own brand-building activity can be incredibly beneficial. An established recruitment agency will already have their own brand and a good reputation, which reflects well on your business and provides reassurance to the candidate. What’s more, a recruitment agency, especially one with a broad spectrum of commercial experience, will have their ear to the ground and be able to keep you informed of candidate feedback and motivations to be aware of when establishing and maintaining an employer brand.

Not just a helping hand

Clayton Recruitment’s regional analysis of recruitment trends in the North West found that vacancies are on the increase across all industries from commercial finance to logistics: it doesn’t appear that the skills shortage will be coming to an end any time soon. The benefit of working with a recruitment partner is that while you’re busy building up your employer brand, the agent can access their existing pool of talent to find you the best candidate.

An agency that understands and has plenty of experience in commercial recruitment is key too. They can use their extensive and wide-ranging sector knowledge to filter out the very best talent that matches up with your needs. And while the skills shortage isn’t likely to disappear overnight, it can take a weight off your shoulders knowing that a professional is handling your company’s recruitment.

If you’re thinking of creating an employer brand or think that your existing brand needs re-developing, then why not get in touch with Clayton Recruitment? We’d be happy to chat about employer branding or help with finding the best talent for your business.

If you’d like to find out more about building an Employer Brand, please download our guide here.

If you’d like to find out more about the benefits of using a specialised recruitment company, have a look at our blog on how to get the best out of your recruitment company.

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Candidates with the experience your business needs: impossible to recruit?

  • March 21, 2018

It’s no secret that businesses want to recruit the best talent. The right skills combined with several years of industry experience is invaluable; a suitable candidate makes a big difference not only to the quality of work but the bottom line too. Yet many businesses are struggling to recruit individuals that have the necessary experience or the relevant skills – and just the right combination of the two. Skills shortages, tough competition and an unstable political and economic climate combine to make the recruitment market extremely tough across all industries – though not impossible with the right help.

Why experience matters

In any industry or line of work the more time someone has spent carrying out tasks successfully, the less supervision they will require and the more effective they will be. Once an individual has three, five or ten years’ experience under their belt they will have encountered many different scenarios, have experience handling clients and varying workloads. At this point the employee may become more useful generally to the employer, as they start to think about developing their career in terms of management or specialising in a certain area that delivers a competitive advantage.

And it’s not just well-honed practical skills that form the backbone of experience. Take the engineering sector; EngineeringUK reports that annually the UK is ‘at least’ 20,000 short of the graduates required to fill engineering posts. The chronic skills shortage is a difficult hurdle for many different businesses to overcome yet it may not be as simple as hiring someone with a degree. Speaking to Director magazine Helen Atkinson, engineering professor at the University of Leicester, says that recent graduates often lack the commercial know-how that is the sum of technical ability and knowledge of how businesses stay profitable.

Experience delivers on the bottom line: businesses need well-rounded candidates that are capable, commercially savvy and have seen most it before. And once they have them, they need to hold on to them.

The three-year itch

Once an employee reaches a point where they are trained and they have some relevant industry experience they become a valuable asset, hence the reason why it’s so difficult to recruit candidates at this stage of their career. The business that spent time and money training the individual is faced with the prospect that they may jump ship, taking valuable knowledge and experience with them. It’s in the company’s best interests to keep hold of those individuals and retain those valuable skills. Simultaneously, they need to attract more staff at that crucial stage of their career in order to keep growing – and competition is high.

Competition isn’t just rife from other businesses within comparable industries, it’s an issue facing all industries. The IT sector is a good example of this: as technology changes and develops the need for people with those skills increases. An IT expert isn’t just needed at Microsoft or IBM, they are potentially needed by any industry or by any company that employs its own IT personnel and requires those skills. So now the competition doesn’t just come from Hewlett Packard or Dell, it could come from the banking and finance industry, healthcare, retail – anywhere.

If a candidate feels tempted by an offer elsewhere there needs to be good incentives for them to stay. Globalisation is another key factor in competition for candidates. An increasingly connected world brings new opportunities for work as well as potential overseas employment that may prove tempting. If businesses are to remain competitive it’s essential that they attract and retain employees that are highly desirable to other businesses both in the UK and abroad.

How to beat the competition and recruit the best candidates?

Recruitment can be a stressful affair at the best of times and especially so in the midst of a skills shortage. Posting an ad on job board or the company website can feel like sifting through an awful lot of sand to find a small amount of gold. It’s time-consuming and takes the focus off running the business, winning new work and delivering existing work. This is where a recruitment agency can really prove its worth.

A reputable, experienced agency will have an extensive network of contacts and a large database of potential candidates at their disposal which can save a lot of recruitment legwork. Any agency worth their salt will have developed good relationships with their candidates and will be able to act as an effective, trustworthy middleman between the two parties.

While there is no magic solution, by being alert to issues surrounding competition and retention companies stand a better chance of attracting skilled, experienced individuals. A professional recruitment partner doesn’t just present a list of the best candidates, they can offer advice on how best to retain them: an investment that pays dividends now and in the future.

If you found this blog interesting, check out our other blog on Where’s all the talent gone?.  Furthermore, contact our team to speak about your recruiting needs, call 01772 259 121.

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