Square Pegs in Round Holes


How Businesses Can Find Talent during a UK Skills Shortage and What Has Caused it?

Sami Rose – Consultant – JS3 Recruitment (samirose@js3recruitment.com)

The UK is currently facing a skills shortage that is estimated to cost our Economy up to £90 billion annually by the year 2024. According to the Learning and Work Institute, there will be an estimated 21.8m people chasing low and intermediate-skilled jobs by the middle of next decade – a surplus of 8.1m – while there will be 4.2 million highly skilled jobs that cannot be filled by the right candidate. This means the average worker will be £1,176 a year worse off and the UK as a whole will suffer to the tune of £90bn.


Brexit is also going to weigh in very heavily on UK employers finding the right talent for their businesses. The UK hasn’t even left the EU yet and we have already seen a 75,000 drop in Net Migration. This is only going to make it even more difficult to plug the gaps in our UK talent pool and businesses may struggle to retain the loyalty of their existing workforce.


Here at JS3 Recruitment we have our own thoughts on how our clients can adapt their approach and survive the skills shortage:


  • Recruiters – Finding a Partner not a One Night Stand!

For whatever reason whenever the subject of a recruiter comes up (with either a candidate or a client), it ends up being like a Trip Advisor review. People either talk about the tremendous experience they had with their recruiter or they will tell you not to go near them. Most people think that all recruiters are the same.


But like any Service or Product within any industry you have to make sure that you find the best supplier. This is normally quite easy to spot and common characteristics of these Recruiters are:

  • They actually spend the time to understand the needs and fit for your business. All good recruiters should want to come and meet you at your office. How can they “sell” your vacancy to a candidate if they have never set foot in your office?
  • They should want to build a working relationship as a true Business Partner, not just be looking to make one quick fee and move on to another new client.
  • They appear to be knowledgeable in your industry and understand some of the difficulties you face when hiring. The best recruiters should not be afraid to ask you some difficult questions, rather than making out that they know everything.


Transferable skills are often completely overlooked when a business is hiring. Companies only want to look for a candidate who fits their vacancy like the missing piece of a Jigsaw puzzle, especially if the role is a back fill. What if I told you that there is a much wider talent pool of fantastic applicants who with minimal training could adapt their previous experience to benefit your business. Not only that, they may very well bring new and untried working methods that have the potential to benefit you in ways that you hadn’t previously considered. Perhaps a square peg does fit in a round hole.


This is where your trusted recruiter partner should earn their money! Contrary to what many people believe, the best recruiters are not just glorified administrators. They are here to offer our clients industry insight and advice on where the best candidates might currently be working. Recruiters should be able to suggest similar or relevant industries that they could target for you, and will almost certainly have a fantastic network of candidates that they have an existing relationship with. Finding that recruitment partner, gives you access to an agency you can trust to find the right talent for you!


  • An attractive Salary is great, but what does the rest of the Package look like?

The good old days of throwing money at your preferred candidate to attract them are done. Today’s candidates are looking for something different and you need to keep up with what your competitors are doing.


In a recent survey it was found that “81% of UK workers say they would take a pay cut if it meant landing their dream job”. Similarly, 73% say that development and personal progression are among the top things they look for in a job, in many cases as much as a better salary.


A lot of employers however are struggling to react to this with a study finding that 40% of workers aged 45 and over don’t think their employer cares about their future development in the organisation.


As I sit here writing this, I believe that the new social media era we have entered has been the catalyst for the change we are seeing in candidate behaviour Sites like Glassdoor give employees the opportunity to review their current and previous employers. This is a huge PR opportunity for companies but it can also have a negative impact if previous employees leave bad reviews. We have all seen the great first day posts on LinkedIn with a starter pack and champagne and flowers but most of us have also see the posts berating previous employers after an acrimonious departure.


So how do you adapt to attract top talent to your business?

There will always be different opinions on how to do this, and to what lengths you go to purely depends on how big your business is. However the ones suggested below can be put in place by any business and utilised almost to equal effect.

  • Don’t just look at Salary and bonus. Consider an employee survey and see what your team would like to see in their package.
  • Try and incorporate Fun team building exercises into your calendar year!
  • Ensure that employees have a clear plan for progression and development.
  • Discounts for Shops / Cinema and Food, subsidised gym membership (or a deal with corporate rates).
  • Consider whether you can incorporate flexible working or home working. As commuting becomes more expensive and more congested, some flexibility is often the defining factor between keeping and losing a valued employee.


In short, there are different ways of attracting talent to your business but at the heart of this, if you decide to use a recruiter, needs to be a relationship with a true Business Partner who understands what the “Consultant” part of their job title means. Let them advise you on what other companies are doing to find their new hires and see how that might work for you.