Written by Rob Brodie, Head of Corporate Sales at JobAdder

For employers on the ground and their internal talent acquisition teams, skills shortages have never been so acute – and proactive recruitment is key to sourcing skills amid the talent drought.

Since Coronavirus restrictions finally lifted in England in July, businesses and the wider economy have bounced back more rapidly than many expected. In order to continue on the path to post-Covid recovery, however, internal hiring teams need more people – and data from JobAdder shows that sourcing talent is becoming increasingly challenging.

According to our latest quarterly Global Talent Acquisition Report, which assesses how in-house HR and recruitment functions are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, applications per job have fallen by a massive 69.9% year-on-year, resulting in widespread skills shortages. The research, which analysed data trends across JobAdder’s corporate users in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, the US, and Canada, reveals that while demand for talent has significantly increased year-on-year, skills availability remains relatively weak.

In fact, in-house resourcing teams reported an average of just 15.6 applications for each available role across the UK in Q2 2021. In comparison, at the height of the pandemic, during Q2 2020, this figure stood at 51.8.

The research also reveals the average time to place a contract candidate stood at 29.3 days in Q2 2021. Permanent staff, meanwhile, took an average of 35.9 days to place during the same period, further suggesting a shortage of immediately available jobseekers in Britain.

For business leaders across the UK, these figures will come as little surprise. Since our economy reopened in the summer, organisations have been scrambling for talent in a relatively shallow pool. These skill shortages have also revealed themselves via gaps in supermarket shelves and restaurant menus, and more recently through queues at petrol stations. However, the talent dearth the UK currently faces reaches far beyond a shortfall of chefs and HGV drivers: employers recruiting across almost every sector are unable to find the volume and quality of staff they need to thrive.

It is worth noting that Britain was already managing skills shortages long before the pandemic, and an exodus of European professionals post-Brexit has no doubt compounded the current situation. The talent drought we are presently experiencing is further highlighted by recent figures from the Office for National Statistics which revealed that the number of open job vacancies across the UK surpassed one million for the first time ever this summer.

What’s more, it seems this trend shows no sign of abating. With reports of the ‘Great Resignation’ gaining pace, and a recent report from Microsoft in keeping with this – revealing that 41% of global workers are contemplating handing in their notice, following a year of uncertainty and hesitancy – talent acquisition teams face losing employees over the coming months while already struggling to source skill sets in the current climate.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many professionals decided against moving roles during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and now we’re getting back to some sort of normality, these individuals are beginning to explore the myriad of opportunities available to them. Against this backdrop, effective candidate communications and proactive, speedy resourcing strategies will be key to ensuring businesses recover from the pandemic. This means it’s crucial that jobseeker engagement and rich talent pools are at the forefront of hiring managers’ minds. Make no mistake, sourcing strategies are the only differentiator in this candidate driven market: when there are not enough people to go around, it is crucial that you look where your competitors don’t and offer an outstanding employee value proposition. Needless to say, technology is key to ensuring that you are not only able penetrate passive pools, but also engage meaningfully with the talent you find there.

The recruitment bounce we have witnessed over the past year has been nothing short of phenomenal and, as our data demonstrates, businesses are now finding themselves scrambling for skills in a candidate-scarce market. However, companies can only flourish if they are able to attract, secure, and retain top talent. The success of individual firms – and the wider UK economy – rests firmly on the ability to recruit the best people.

Against this backdrop, for internal talent acquisition teams, gauging levels of candidate interest and engagement is absolutely crucial. These conditions are also creating a climate where speed is essential in recruitment, with in-house HR professionals developing proactive, technology-driven, strategies to find the best candidates for their business to secure vital skills before the competition.

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.