The talent gap

A massive talent shortage. A lack of new blood – It’s what you are all reporting.

While the Events sector is growing exponentially it’s reported that the talent pool is shrinking. 86% of Event agencies expanded their headcounts last year and the trend continues in 2015.

According to C&IT’s industry challenges report, 20% of the event agencies surveyed stated that finding and recruiting talented people is the top challenge facing their business, that’s a 15% increase on last year!

Let’s not dwell on why recruiting is proving so challenging but think about what can be done.

As specialists in recruiting for the Events and Communications sector we can certainly agree. We have seen a 360 degree turn around, a candidate-heavy market has, in the last 18 months, become a role-heavy, talent-light field.

As finance becomes more readily available to your clients and they begin to loosen the purse strings they too are looking at talent shortages within their own sectors, so what are they doing about it? Investing in their own employee engagement strategies alongside developing their own brands through marketing. The very reason they are turning to you and your services.

From a recruitment specialist perspective all is far from lost. There is plenty you can be doing for both quick results now and growth and succession planning further down the line but the ground work needs to be put in place straight away.

Move quickly to secure the best talent

Assess your expectations, be realistic and flexible.

Think about cultural fit for long term success

Consider passive candidates

Work with a specialist recruiter

Speed is of the essence

Yes there is an imbalance between the volumes of work we are seeing hit the sector and the pool of available talent.

When you find talent pounce on it! Grab it and move quickly. There is great competition for hot talent. A few years ago it was a candidate’s job to wow and impress, now the playing field has levelled and it’s your responsibility to do the same.

Only too often do we present skilled, qualified candidates to clients only to wait up to 3 weeks for feedback. We appreciate that a recruiting line manager has the day job to contend with, momentum has to be key. More and more a strong candidate will have several offers and the luxury to pick and choose. By the time you have made the decision to interview they have made their choice and moved on!

Make talent your priority when you know you have a gap that needs to be filled.

At the start of your campaign, be this alongside a recruiter, a social media campaign, traditional advertising or networking, plan a time line and stick to it. Set aside time to focus on responses and to meet candidates for first and second stage interviews and for providing constructive feedback. This way you are able to manage candidate’s expectations and protect your reputation as an employer of choice. Make sure that the experience is a positive one even if in this instance the outcome isn’t an employment offer. Every candidate you engage with walks away with a story about your company.

Be Flexible and Realistic

Of course have a job description prepared with a clear idea of your perfect candidate but be careful not to disregard candidates who at first don’t perfectly fit the mould.

Be flexible and recognise the value of experience outside your particular sector. If you are looking for an Account manager for an Automotive client don’t focus purely on candidates with Auto experience. Agencies are becoming more and more cross sector and to be prepared to employ talent with alternative experience can only offer opportunity further down the line. They will bring with them a fresh perspective and often revitalise a team as long as they are nurtured and supported from the outset.

Don’t always assume that a candidate with a corporate background wouldn’t be a cultural fit for a pacey, client centric agency environment with less rigid structure. We have persuaded several of our agency clients to meet more corporate candidates with positive results.

Make cultural fit top of the agenda for long term success.

Do you have a value set in place that you live and breathe by? Values that define your company culture, are imbedded in your DNA and that the entire company work to subconsciously.

If not, take some time to consider what your values are. Not what they should be but what they actually are and use these when you recruit.

Candidates are looking for a sense of cultural satisfaction and you are looking for a strong cultural fit. Finding this nirvana is the key to long term happiness and ultimately profitable investment.

Skills are important but there must be synergy with your brand.

Consider attracting passive candidates for the future

Are you an organisation people want to work for? Is there a buzz around your employer brand? Does talent mention your name as a company on their hit list when they speak to us? Have they heard what a progressive employer you are?

The majority of candidates we work with aren’t actually candidates in the true sense of the word at all! We are well connected and know where people are. Are ahead of their aspirations and know what would grab their attention if the right opportunity came along. They don’t consider themselves as actively looking for work. Quite often the very best talent isn’t ‘looking for work’ but would be interested to know what options are open to them.

Consider what candidates look for joining your organisation, the messages you are getting out there, the image you portray and the candidates you would want to attract. Do you appeal to them?

Review sites such as Glassdoor are proving more and more popular and allow employees to leave a review from an employee perspective much like reviewing a holiday. Increasingly people are considering these reviews as part of their decision making process.

Work with your Specialist Recruiter

Specialist recruitment agencies act as a central hub within the industry. A good recruiter knows who is where, knows what would attract specific candidates to consider a move and knows trends in the market.

A good recruiter is your brand ambassador and can support your employer brand, work with them to plan ahead. Where do you predict growth in your business and what talent will be needed to deliver this growth? Don’t wait until the need is current to talk to your recruiter, with advance warning they can test the market and quietly get the wheels in motion behind the scenes.

Be prepared to meet candidates on a speculative basis ahead of your plans. It may be that you need to bring some plans forward to be able to accommodate the talent you want in your business.

If you agency knows your plans they can begin to talent pool on your behalf.

The UK Events Industry Is World Leading And Is Driven By The People Who Work Within It. Make Sure You Are Doing All You Can To Attract The Right Calibre Of People To Your Business.

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