As the present year winds to a close, it’s time to take stock and consider where we – and the industry as a whole - have been and, equally importantly, what might happen in 2016.
It’s been a year of substantial growth for Be-IT and, I’m sure, for other IT recruiters. Each of the first three quarters has seen a growth (24% in our case) in the number of digital/tech jobs coming on to the market and on current figures this will increase still further in Q4. Our clients are investing in people because they are a) confident of the growing strength of the economy and b) secure in their knowledge that much more computing/digital/IT expertise will be required to underpin the business world in the future.
Concomitant with this growth in jobs was an increase in candidates - we saw CVs piling up earlier in 2015 – but this is now going into reverse. In Q4 we’re seeing a 30% decrease in candidate availability, with all that implies for those trying to fill the growing number of live jobs. It’s a simple case of supply and demand and at present they are out of kilter.
This, obviously, has an impact on salaries. APSCo data shows a 2.2% increase in IT salaries over this year and computing professionals enjoy, on average, some of the best remuneration in the country.*
What does this all mean at the sharp-end for recruiters, clients and candidates? Well, although there are fewer CVs to match with jobs, there are still a lot of appointments being made. However, I suspect that the thinking behind some of these appointments is changing. The large rise we’re seeing in the numbers being interviewed (a 22% increase in the number of interviews over the year) suggests clients are increasingly keen to see as many candidates as possible, looking to check if the basic technical ability is present and, crucially, if the personal chemistry is right. If these conditions are satisfied, then, where possible, clients are seeking to train the candidate and graft on the necessary skills. Put simply, clients are, within reason, slightly less fussy about a precise skills match so long as there is synergy between all parties to the deal.
This means that the number of very good candidates is at a premium and ‘the ideal candidate’ is a rare and prized item. It also means that everyone is searching for those elusive ‘passive’ candidates and seeking ever more innovative ways of tracking and engaging with them.
We see this especially in an increasing number of conversations with clients about employer branding and EVP. Clients are now keen to work more closely with recruitment firms like Be-IT (and our competitors) and this, I believe, will result/is resulting in more exclusivity. I believe we’ll see more sole-supplier/long-term relationships developing, where a recruiter is retained to provide advice, insight and creative solutions that reflect a genuine understanding of the candidate journey and focus on the bigger recruitment and retention picture. Those recruiters and clients that are doing this well are winning and will continue to do so. Those that aren’t are failing and will continue to fail to get the best candidates. Clients need to be more astute and aware of the intricacies of workforce planning, not just call a recruiter and shout “help, get me some candidates”!
Another key change we’re seeing is the loosening of geographical constraints and increased mobility amongst candidates, locally, nationally and indeed internationally. We see this especially in the Aberdeen market and the government’s prediction of a big decline in the North Sea oil industry suggests that the exodus of talent from the north-east may well become a flood.
Finally, and I believe this is a reflection of everything I’ve written above, this year I don’t expect to see the usual falling away in activity up to Christmas. In fact, I predict that there will be a continuing high workload for Be-IT right up to the 25th of December. This is not usual but is a reflection of the market and it’s a trend I expect to continue into 2016.
Gareth Biggerstaff, MD, Be-IT Resourcing
* Be-IT is about to conduct its second annual salary survey for Scotland soon and we’ll report our findings in January next year. Keep an eye out for a mailer and details on our blog.