The competition for graduate talent

Employers looking for graduate talent are facing extraordinary competition. Yet, at the same time, grads fear reduced job prospects…

As competition increases:

Candidates are now making an average of 29 graduate scheme applications at once. This has created an application boom. The ‘finance and professional services’ industries have gone from receiving 50,000 applications to more than 250,000.

Not only is this keeping the employers rather busy (and forcing them to compete against each other), it’s also spiking competition levels among the applicants.

While 3/4 of candidates have expressed an interest in graduate programmes, only 1% of applicants were recruited last year.

There are some positive findings though, including those relating to the reduced gender gap and increased ‘race equality’.

Why candidates are worried:

78% of graduates surveyed by Milkround fear that Brexit will ‘negatively affect their career’.

More than 1/2 foresee a struggle to find a graduate job – believing the economy could reflect the patterns observed during the 2008 financial crisis. During this period graduates spent an average of 8 months trying to secure their first role. Many applicants also changed their career plans or entered different sectors due to job scarcity.

Despite these concerns, there are some promising stats. The Office for National Statistics reports continued record employment, while Milkround has observed a 104% increase in graduate openings ‘year on year’.

Soon to graduate or already done so?

Don’t forget that there are multiple routes into your first career role. Alongside the traditional big-firm schemes, there are many SME employers looking to recruit and develop graduates.

The Bath area has a wealth of high calibre employers looking to do just this, especially among the finance, financial services and professional services sectors. You’ll often find great examples on our jobs feed. As well as looking at the general listings, you can search by ‘graduate’ to see some of the latest opportunities.

Remember to also keep in touch with your Recruitment Consultant so that you are aware of the latest vacancies that match your career skills and goals.



Are you being upskilled at work?

Employers may be failing to ensure their team is regularly upskilled. And their employees may pay the price with their future career…

What is upskilling (and is upskilled even a word)?!

It might sound like just another marketing buzzword. However, ‘upskilling‘ has entered the Cambridge Dictionary and is defined as “the process of learning new skills or teaching workers new skills”.

The latest findings from the City & Guilds Group (as reported by HR Review) reveal that:

  • 76% of professionals feel it is important to continually refresh their skill-set. Vitally, this is stated as ‘regardless of age or career position’.
  • 81% predict some degree of change in their job skills requirements within the next five years.
  • Yet only 46% of people are receiving adequate training support from their employer to ensure they’re prepared for these changing needs.
  • What’s more, 1/4 of respondents say they are not receiving enough feedback regarding their skills development priorities.
  • Certain employee groups are less likely to be upskilled. 48% of employees aged 55 and above did not receive any skills training in 2018.
  • 42% of all part-time workers additionally report the same.

Why aren’t workers being upskilled?

  • It appears employers are most concerned by their staff taking time out of their usual working day (42%).
  • The cost of training is also proving to be a barrier for employers (29%).
  • While few individuals feel they can fund training themselves outside of work (28%).

How can you ensure you’re being upskilled?

These are concerning stats and there are some great comments regarding the importance of prioritising learning and development at work. Yet what do you do if you’re the employee and your skills haven’t been refreshed for some time?

  1. Where possible, use appraisals as an opportunity to ask your employer how you can keep your skills relevant to the changing needs of the organisation. This will help plant a seed and could point you in the right direction, even if the company is unable to finance training at present.
  2. Do your own research. Explore articles and podcasts regarding the future of your industry. See if there are any common themes or predictions.
  3. Use your findings to research ways to upskill at home. These don’t always have to be costly. Again, podcasts, websites and books can teach you a lot.
  4.  Explore how a new job role could help you upskill. It may be that you’re ready for your next career step. Keep an extra close eye on any job descriptions that closely match your experience yet also offer the chance to learn something new.

You can always email your CV to one of our Recruitment Consultants (here’s what to include in your cover email). Alternatively, you’re welcome to upload your details via the site today. 



Is your salary the most important factor?

Investigating whether your salary is the most important of all the job benefits. What else appeals to today’s job-seekers and what’s so important about this research?

Let’s start with the importance of this topic. As we mentioned in our last post, job vacancy numbers have reached an all-time high. This means that each employer has to work all the harder to impress suitable applicants.

This also means that there are regular surveys to ascertain which factors are most likely to attract a candidate into a new role. Surveys such as the one behind the ‘Attracting the Right Talent – Meeting Demands through the Job Offering Report.’

Salary isn’t (necessarily!) the most important factor…

  • At present, just over 1/3 of the nation’s professionals say their ‘career expectations are not being met’. They most prioritise…
  • Working for an employer that ‘values you’ (25%)
  • The opportunity to gain experience (17%)
  • Creating a strong work-life balance (18%)
  • And developing personal technical skills and abilities (11%)

Those that had worked for their employer for more than five years were even more likely to rate feeling valued and work-life balance as most important.

Alongside this, 60% of people prioritise the chance to develop their career within their job role.

You’ll see salary is yet to be mentioned. However, there is some regional variation here. In the South, workers are more likely to prioritise the career and lifestyle factors mentioned. Whereas the majority of professionals in the North East and Midlands valued their salary above all else.

There’s also some sector difference. The banking and financial services industry was the only sector that specifically regarded a pay rise as their primary career priority.

The report says there’s been a marked shift in attitudes due to the ‘millennial impact’. This group of workers is placing greater importance on lifestyle elements beyond pay rates.

What does this all mean?

We can see that attitudes are changing. However, it’s not long ago we heard that the UK is more salary-minded than any other European country and that 62% of people primarily work for this reason.

It’s worth considering the research as a whole. Salaries are incredibly important to many workers, yet there are also plenty of other factors that are relevant to job searching…and the acceptance of job offers.

  • As a candidate: it’s useful to consider your own priorities. What matters most in your career right now? Be sure to let your Recruitment Consultant know what you’re looking for. You can include some of this information right from your first email to your agency.
  • As an employer: take a look at your employee attraction offering. Are you making your team feel valued, do you help to create a positive work-life balance, and are you ensuring your staff receives regular skills development? What’s more, are you communicating these messages in your job advertisements? This post will help you to sharpen your employee attraction strategy.

For specialist recruitment support, please call the office on 01225 313130. Further details are available on our Contact page



A positive recruitment agency relationship

How your recruitment agency relationship affects your job search. Plus the latest news regarding the UK jobs boom…

Your recruitment agency relationship:

HR News has just released some great data surrounding the benefits of working with recruitment agencies. They report that:

  • The majority (64%) of candidates surveyed worked with a recruitment agency to ‘find at least one job’ last year.
  • 88% of people most value the communication received from their agency. This includes support, reassurance and guidance throughout the recruitment process.
  • Around 1/4 of respondents additionally appreciate the prospect of a long-term recruitment agency relationship. They understand how the insights garnered by their consultants can help to support their later career progress.
  • A similar number of people look for specialist recruitment agencies who will understand the intricacies of their industry – and, consequently, provide valuable insights for candidates.
  • Poor agency communications understandably cause job-seekers to utilise alternative routes.
  • However, more than 2/5 of candidates stated that they found their job search ‘easy’.

The UK jobs boom continues…

Over on Recruiting Times, we hear that the UK jobs boom remains in ‘full force’ and that the women’s unemployment rate has reached a record low.

The article, which cites stats from The Office for National Statistics (ONS), reveals:

  • National employment has now reached 32.6 million people.
  • Unemployment fell to 1.36 million – 100,000 fewer people than last year.
  • The women’s unemployment level has dropped below 4% for the first time.
  • Yet, job vacancy numbers have risen by 16,000 to a total of 870,000 jobs. Which is also a record figure – and a sign of the ongoing skills shortage.

It’s interesting to note that zero-hour contracts can also contribute to high employment rates and growth figures. In other words, there may still be many people who are recorded as employed yet not receiving regular work assignments (or, for that matter, a regular income!).

We’d always recommend finding a recruitment agency who specialises in the types of vacancies that you’re searching for. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation offers a handy guide to help you to choose an agency. This includes a member directory, which we’re proud to be a part of.

Working with Appoint:

Did you know we specialise in commercial office jobs in Bath and the surrounding Somerset and Wiltshire areas? We recruit for an array of openings, including (yet not limited to!):

  • Administration
  • Customer services
  • Finance & financial services
  • Sales & marketing
  • Project management
  • IT & technical

This includes everything from temporary assignments to contract bookings and permanent roles.

We opened in 1999, so have garnered a wealth of industry expertise. We’re privileged to be able to share our insights with our candidates and clients throughout the region.

You can learn more about us on our Candidates page. You can also take a look at our jobs page to see and apply for our latest vacancies. We look forward to hearing from you.



Low candidate availability + workplace happiness

National candidate availability has fallen again. How does this affect job placement numbers and how does it relate to workplace happiness?

Low candidate availability

The latest REC and KPMG UK Report on Jobs (compiled by IHS Markit) reveals that…

  • The number of job-seekers reaching out to UK recruitment agencies and/or making applications for permanent roles fell at a ‘marked’ rate towards the end of 2018.
  • There were also fewer temps available for agency work. This decline is ‘softer but still marked’.
  • This affected UK permanent job placement figures in December – causing the most gradual growth levels observed in 20 months.
  • Conversely, temporary placements grew at a faster rate; managing to beat November’s ’25-month low’.
  • Demand for both temporary and permanent employees remains high and sits well above the average figures recorded throughout all surveys to date. There have been 21 years of surveys conducted in total.

There are also some variable factors:

  • The South of England has experienced the greatest number of permanent placements throughout this period.
  • Generally, England saw better placement levels than the rest of the UK. This was particularly true for temporary appointments.
  • There was most demand for private sector employees, both temporary and permanent, in December.
  • As for recruiting sectors, the Accounting & Financial and Engineering industries represented the highest demand for permanent employees.
  • On the temp side, executive and professional roles saw the slowest growth in demand.

Does low candidate availability spell high happiness at work?

Not if other studies are anything to go by! It appears that continued economic and political uncertainties are at the root of many of these findings.

In fact, 69% of individuals may currently be unhappy at work. Furthermore, 88% of employees are frequently undertaking personal or other non-work tasks in order to hurry the day along!

Popular distraction activities include:

  1. Gossiping with colleagues (61%)
  2. Facebook (45%)
  3. Personal email (44%)
  4. Drinks making/kitchen time (29%)
  5. Shopping and banking via apps (25%)
  6. Looking for a new job (19%)
  7. And unnecessary toilet trips (17%)

A number of more serious distractions are also discussed in the original post.

Advice for candidates & employers

Are these findings the motivation you need to finally take advantage of the skills shortage? Employers looking to do so will need to ensure they’re doing everything they can to enhance their staff attraction offering. Call the office on 01225 313130 to discuss your recruitment needs.

Candidates can also visit our jobs page to see the types of openings we’re currently recruiting for (you’ll see this is regularly updated!).



Employers intend to invest in their teams

Two separate surveys highlight employers’ plans to invest in their teams; regardless of their economic expectations…

Survey 1: employers set to invest in new employees

Source: REC

Our first survey actually comes from our accrediting body, the REC. Confidence in the UK economy appears ‘negative’ for its fourth consecutive month. In figure terms, this equates to a survey score of -14.

However, despite this, hiring and investment plans remain positive and have even increased by a percentage point over the past month. Taking this particular score to +16.

  • 48% of businesses looking to hire permanent employees are worried that there will not be enough candidates available (+6%).
  • Likewise, 53% of those hoping to grow their temporary headcount are concerned about sourcing enough skilled staff.
  • The marketing, media and creative sectors are among the most affected by the skills shortage.
  • Overall, the number of companies planning to recruit agency staff within a short-term time frame has increased by 3% since October (to a total score of +19).

Neil Carberry of the REC suggests Brits are displaying their ‘pragmatic best’ in spite of their wider economic concerns – and are set to ‘invest in their own businesses to meet demand’.

These attitudes clearly reflect those of other sources, as recently discussed.

Survey 2: employers will continue to invest in staff benefits

Source: The CIPD via People Management

Looking to the next two years, most businesses (97%) additionally intend to either maintain or increase their employee benefits schemes.

  • 81% plan to spend the same amount.
  • 16% intend to increase their spend in this area.
  • Businesses predominantly wish to focus on professional development benefits (43%), including mentoring and secondments.
  • Health and wellbeing incentives, such as sick pay (29%), follow this.
  • 25% will mainly focus on financial schemes, including pensions and debt-related advice.

Once again, these figures are deemed promising when considering external economic factors.

Charles Cotton from the REC praises businesses for their efforts. He says ‘spending in these areas can help improve employee performance, and ultimately corporate performance.’

The two news items are extremely closely related, with benefits packages also providing valuable staff attraction tools.

Looking to recruit permanent or temporary staff? Call the office on 01225 313130. Candidates can apply for new jobs via the website, or upload a CV as a general applicant



Reputation matters to job-seekers

Why any business looking to recruit new team members would be wise to take a good look at their reputation.

Today’s discussion rather neatly follows on from our last post. If you haven’t read it yet, it highlights the importance of job skills in relation to the ongoing skills shortage.

With many stats pointing towards both high staff demand and low application numbers, employers must appraise their staff attraction approach. And this is where brand reputation comes into the conversation…

Never more important than now:

It’s said that a brand’s online rep is more important now than ever before. Alongside the recruitment climate we’ve outlined above (and over the past few articles!), we all clearly possess the digital means to thoroughly investigate our prospective employers. The stats suggest:

  • 70% of people will always research an employer’s reputation before applying for a job.
  • 56% would not go on to make an application if the business had ‘no online presence’. 57% say they would distrust these companies.
  • As for what the candidates are searching for, employee satisfaction and how staff are treated top the priority list.

The power of word of mouth…

It’s not only low job application numbers that employers should be concerned about. Future buying behaviour may also be affected by their recruitment reputation.

Perhaps understandably, candidates who’ve been through an unpleasant recruitment experience are less likely to support that employer’s products or services. What’s more, word of mouth could further harm wider purchasing choices.

  • 69% of candidates would discuss their negative experience with others – 81% would do so through one-to-one conversations and 18% via social media broadcasting.
  • 47% who heard about such a negative encounter from a friend would be less willing to purchase the brand’s offerings.
  • The experiences most likely to influence buying behaviour included poor interview encounters, and ‘lack of transparency’ regarding salaries or job descriptions, alongside non-existent interview feedback.

A reputation for the positive:

Thanks to HR News, we’ve observed the importance of employer reputation and the consequences of a poor recruitment rep. Now, we turn to Recruiting Times and the draw of a positive impact.

Employees feel that working for these companies would increase their individual happiness and productivity. In addition, staff members would be willing to leave roles that didn’t prioritise a positive or meaningful ethos.

How companies can work with recruitment agencies to improve their employer reputations

  • As well as ensuring you have an up-to-date and easily found website, why not provide some extra details that support your employer reputation profile? This could include links to any awards you’ve received (especially those for staff management), links to review sites, and HR provisions you’re proud to offer.
  • If you have had any negative reviews as an employer, it may be worth discussing these with your Consultant. Perhaps it came from previous management and new methods are now in place. Honest conversations can help your Consultant to communicate openly with prospective candidates.
  • Sometimes it helps if candidates can meet with one or a few employees during the interview process. This also proves a useful tool for ascertaining potential team fit.
  • Recruitment consultants can advise on how to best conduct the interview process, support you in creating the most appropriate job descriptions and help provide interview feedback/updates.
  • The above can also include a focus on your impact statements and brand purpose. This must be authentic though, or else an excited applicant could soon become a disgruntled employee!

Please call the office on 01225 313130 to discuss your recruitment needs.