The smell of a real Christmas tree. The sight of twinkling lights and candles. The taste of questionable pâté. Christmas is a time for traditions. For those of us in the recruitment world, Christmas has traditionally been a quieter period (seasonal hiring aside, of course). As jobseekers and hiring companies typically take a breather in December, it’s a time for recruiters to get ready for the January rush.
But not this year. If 2021 is anything to go by, the traditional December recruitment slump is a thing of the past. In fact, this December looks to be a bumper month for recruitment. So if you’re thinking of hiring at all in the near future – for short-term or permanent positions – it’s vital you get ahead of the curve.
Why hire in December?
Traditionally, January and February have been busy times for hiring. But with the major candidate shortage that’s happening in the UK right now (more on that coming up), you can’t afford to wait for the “peak” period. In what is a hugely competitive job market, recruiting over the Christmas period makes a lot of sense – and it could give you the drop on the competition. Especially if they haven’t read this article and are still under the illusion that there’ll be plenty of candidates to go around in January!
What’s more, from a practical point of view, December is often a lighter workload month for many businesses. Team members are using up the last of their annual leave. Clients go a bit quiet. Orders or new projects may drop off before picking up in the New Year. This gives you some much-needed headspace to focus on recruitment and how to plug the skills gaps in your organisation.
Don’t underestimate the candidate shortage
We cannot stress this enough: the UK is in the midst of a hiring boom. According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the pace of recruitment for permanent positions has hit the highest rate since the annual REC survey began 24 years ago.[i] The result of this hiring boom is a major shortage of candidates – in fact, the REC has labelled it the most severe candidate shortage since 1997. This is backed up by data from the British Chambers of Commerce, which shows that 70% of employers that have tried to hire people this year struggled to do so.[ii]
And it’s not just the permanent job market that’s experiencing a staffing squeeze; for seasonal jobs, employers are reportedly offering signing bonuses of up to £2,000 to combat the labour shortage.[iii]
To put it bluntly, there aren’t enough candidates to meet the surge in hiring demand. Which means you need to be quick out of the blocks if you want to attract talent.
What’s causing the hiring boom?
This time last year things were grinding to a halt. The vaccine rollout was barely underway. And many parts of the UK were heading for a strict Christmas lockdown. Fast-forward to today and more than 46 million people in the UK – that’s roughly 80 percent of people over the age of 12 – are fully vaccinated.[iv] The UK is back open for business and striving for economic recovery. Businesses are hiring to keep up with renewed demand.
Plus, there’s the fact that many companies have long since acclimatised to hybrid working, seamlessly combining remote and in-person working. Companies that were understandably wary of hiring during a time of disruption are now refocused on business growth. We’re all edging back to “normal”, in other words. We’re in a completely different place – economically, emotionally – than 12 months ago.
Couple this fresh confidence with a drop in workers coming from overseas (due to the pandemic and Brexit), and bingo, you have a seriously competitive job market.
Don’t delay your hiring plans
All things considered, this December is a great time to put pedal to the metal and get hiring. But you may need to think outside the box if you’re going to navigate the candidate shortage. You may, for example, want to hire people on a contract or project basis, or offer flexible remote working as a way to tempt talent.
In fact, experts are predicting that more and more employers will shift to hiring people on a contract or project basis, and embrace flexible working solutions.[v] These major recruitment trends, which the pandemic ignited, will be further accelerated by the hiring boom.
Whether you embrace contract- and project-based hiring as a short-term solution – something to see you through this boom period – or take it as a long-term opportunity to rethink how you harness talent, the key is to act now. Because the days of a Christmas recruitment slump are over.
Chat to Roc Search about your hiring needs and we’ll be sure to get you ahead of the competition this Christmas.
[i] Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/uk-employers-face-worst-shortage-job-candidates-record-rec-2021-09-09/
[ii] Source: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/jul/08/uk-employers-struggle-with-worst-labour-shortage-since-1997
[iii] Source: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/nov/10/uk-firms-offer-up-to-2000-sign-on-bonuses-amid-christmas-labour-shortage
[iv] Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-55274833
[v] Source: https://www.humancloudbook.com/