With finding the right staff members adding to the many struggles business owners have faced during the pandemic, many are hoping for positive changes in 2022.
And, according to Cheltenham-based recruitment firm, Hooray, those changes may already happening, with SoGlos speaking to managing director, Richard Arthur, to discover what the jobs market could bring this year – and how to tackle any challenges which may lie ahead.
About the expert – Richard Arthur, founder and managing director of Hooray
With 20 years’ experience in the recruitment industry, managing director and founder of Hooray, Richard Arthur, launched the Cheltenham firm in November 2017.
As the first ethical recruitment company in Gloucestershire, Hooray has been making its mark on the businesses and individuals it works with, through its transparent and honest approach.
Can you give us a summary of what’s been happening in the jobs market for the last year and the current recruitment challenges?
It was a candidate-driven market. There were more vacancies than there were available candidates across the board. So, the recruitment challenges for firms were many. There was a shortage of skilled candidates – so more pressure on firms to make decisions quickly or risk losing them to the competition. Firms that hesitated lost out.
Last year was quite a good opportunity for those seeking new roles, but it was also quite daunting to make a change in the middle of a pandemic – so it was also a challenge for those looking for new roles to actually make a move.
We are only a month into 2022 – are there any signs of a change yet? And if so, what are they?
I think what businesses have started to notice is job seekers are more open to opportunities. They have sat tight for so long and now there is a sense that ‘we need to live with Covid-19, so let’s make a decision – let’s look for a new role’. So yes, there is more optimism already.
How has all this impacted the way businesses advertise roles – and would you advise them to do things differently going forward?
We have changed how adverts are presented – so they are not only about the internal roles. We have changed the focus to be more about what is in it for the applicant than just what the candidate wants. It is about catching the imagination of those seeking new roles in what is still a very competitive market.
Businesses need to ask ‘why should someone apply?’ rather than tell people ‘you must have these skills’. We are finding that approach is generating more interest.
And businesses need to think about the platforms they advertise on. If a client advertises on the jobs site Indeed, although the reach is good, they are still only reaching people who look on Indeed. They are not reaching far enough. You need to think about multiple platforms and social media.
You also need to think about the first impressions a candidate might have of your business. If you direct people to your website and you are a solicitors, for example, you might be a great company to work for, but your site is likely to be aimed at people seeking legal services. What messages does your public profile give to potential staff?
What advice can you give on using a recruitment agency?
I think there are quite a few companies that have had bad experiences with a recruitment agency. They should feel comfortable with asking for references from an agency before they go with them.
Do some research. Is the agency accredited by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation? How long have they been in their job and working in that area or sector? What is their track record? Could you build a good relationship with them? Do they understand your needs?
If they have a good reputation and have been around for a while they probably have contacts and know the market place well and could prove vital.
Your business specialises in recruiting for sectors including professional services; tech and engineering; healthcare and education; and fast-moving consumer goods. Is each sector facing its own unique challenges?
Healthcare has probably been the most challenging – without a doubt – and professional services probably the least, but none of them have been easy. Education has also been very challenging. Finding skilled candidates has been difficult in every sector.
If you take professional services, you used to advertise and get five or six applicants. Now you are lucky to get one. Those administrative support functions are very hard to fill. But each sector has roles which are more challenging than others.
Hooray has just launched a new service specialising in finding the right people for those ‘difficult to fill’ senior positions. Why?
We decided to launch the senior appointments division because these are more difficult to fill than other roles and we felt it was a natural step for me, as managing director, someone who has run his own business, has experience of leading teams, as someone who has credibility and contacts, to head up that specialist role.
I am really, really passionate about filling those senior roles and working with senior leaders to recruit their next leaders and feel I am well-placed to get the buy-in from candidates too.
We are responding to what our business contacts need – that is what we do.
Your own team at Hooray has grown to 16. Although there are clearly still challenges, with Covid-19 restrictions lifting, a new year upon us and firms looking for those key senior business leaders, is there a cause for optimism?
It is hard to know what will happen to interest rates or whether we are moving towards a recession or not, but we will cope. People will not need to stop recruiting and we will be there for them. There will always be opportunity and always be people who are open to relocation.
And we are fortunate to live in a beautiful part of the country here in Gloucestershire, that is an attractive place for people to consider moving to, to live and work.
If you had one dream for 2022 – for businesses and individuals seeking new challenges – what would it be? And how realistic do you think that is?
That is a difficult question. We do not want recruitment to be difficult, but if it was too easy we would be out of a job!
Realistically getting it right will never be easy, but we genuinely thrive on the challenge of adapting and achieving for our clients. And after all, challenge is good. So, if I had a dream for 2022 – surmountable challenges might sum it up.