While the general election is going on in the background, with politicians queuing up to offer us everything under the sun if only we vote to let them spend our money on it, business is trying to get on with things, including the happy business of people getting new jobs. Unfortunately, general elections, and this one in particular with its likelihood of a hung parliament, can cause doubt, dent business confidence and hold up investment decisions while we wait to see whom the next incumbent of Downing Street is (and whether Holyrood has a place at the cabinet table).
What is not in doubt is that a lot of jobs have been created over the last few years. However, as we recruiters know, while this headline figure suggests that our jobs are made easier, we know that it doesn’t work like that. If you are working in an area where the basic mechanics of supply and demand are out of kilter then it’s difficult, sometimes excessively so, to provide the candidates clients want, and especially difficult to provide them when they want them – which is often now, or yesterday!
Time to hire (TTH) is one of the most important metrics in our business.
There is a general ‘rule’ in recruitment that ‘high churn’ roles – the positions that High Street agencies handle so well – have a short TTH, while at the other extreme the C-suite jobs take much longer, often due to the notice periods involved. It’s also generally true to say that the more important a role is the longer people are prepared to take to find the right candidate, but that does not diminish the importance of filling jobs as quickly and efficiently as possible. It can even be business critical, with contracts and other jobs dependent on having the final piece of the workforce jigsaw in place.
In theory, as technology has improved, with widespread ATS use, video-interviewing and smart software making it easier to find passive candidates, businesses should see times to hire reduce (i.e. improve). However, while fine in theory, once human beings get involved and the complexities of the labour market intervene, it’s not that simple. This is particularly true of the IT world, where skills shortages are not going away any time soon.
Our own experience at Be-IT is that the time to hire in the first quarter of 2015 was almost twice as long as for the first quarter of 2014, and c. 25% longer than for 2014 as a whole. This applied to perm and temp roles. In short, roles were filled more quickly in Q1 2014 because candidate availability was better and clients, buoyed by improved economic growth, had the confidence to make new investments and consequently made hiring decisions more quickly. The aforementioned doubts and uncertainties caused by the election, and especially the difficulties of the exchange rates for the pound, dollar and euro for those firms dependent on exports, all combine to slow down the recruitment process.
What is perhaps a concern is that in 2014 the overall TTH lengthened as the year progressed. All recruiters need to be working very hard indeed to strive to ensure this does not happen. We shall measure this as the year progresses and report back to you as we get a fuller picture.
Gareth Biggerstaff, MD, Be-IT Resourcing