Jobs market bouncing back – cautiously
An upturn in confidence in the economy is unfreezing the job market, as companies and candidates begin to think about their next strategic move.
That doesn’t signal a return to the boom-time rules, however. Employers and job seekers have changed their agendas. Over-reliance on contractors, for example, is weakening, as companies begin to see the value of nurturing in-house talent rather than solving a skills gap with a chequebook.
“The market has got lazy around contractor usage and use contractors for absolutely everything. But if you use contractors, you’re not getting the knowledge and skills transfer,” said Matt Gascoigne, associate director for IT at recruitment firm Badenoch & Clark.
While contractors have a key role to play in meeting deadlines for short-term projects, companies are realising that using contractors for day-to-day business is costly and short-sighted. Contractors are still in demand, but companies are beginning to use them correctly for niche or interim projects.
Since autumn, the market has begun to pick up, Gascoigne noted. “We are busier in our permanent market than we have been for the last six months or so and that’s across the board including troublesome areas like financial services.”
Roy Dungworth, director at recruitment firm Modis International, agreed that customer confidence appears to have turned a corner. “Over the last five weeks or so jobs have started to increase again. There’s certainly more activity and customers are starting to look forward rather than cost cutting and that’s a real shift,” he said.
But the recession has made candidates more circumspect about their choice of future employer. “For the first time, I’m seeing candidates moving to other permanent roles at a lower salary because they want security,” said Dungworth.
Employers too have recognised that they need to change the way they recruit. “Most customers have thought about how to attract candidates, but less how do we attract the best candidate. So they are looking at ways of attracting top candidates. Choice can make you snow blind, so they are coming to us for help,” he said.
This help is taking the form of testing candidates’ technical skills rather than relying solely on their interview performance. Employers are also looking for help benchmarking their existing staff to see where their skills gaps lie.