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The real picture

Candidates must be realistic and employers should recruit now

Simon Bean Consultant View

The recession has come through not only in job losses, which are still growing, but in greater labour flexibility such as reduced working hours and even pay cuts.

Finding a job in a recess-ion, therefore, can be particularly challenging. The tables are turned as the number of applicants greatly outweighs the number of job vacancies. Many employers become more selective and offer less competitive salaries.

What are the key recruitment factors in a recession?

First, candidate supply increases, there is a drop in demand for candidates and this results in a downward pressure on salary pressure.
For example, with the well documented demise of the mortgage sector and the ensuing redundancies and company closures, supply suddenly increased while demand virtually dried up. Some adapted their business to cope with the changing market while others left the industry. But chang- ing job markets can be difficult as candidates will have to compete with others with more relevant skills.

To compound matters, there has been a 30-40 per cent drop in demand from companies. This has an obvi-ous supply and demand effect on salaries, which have dropped significantly in many sectors.

There has also been a significant increase in skills required for roles and an increase in the time taken between interview and job offer as employers take a more cautious approach to recruiting new staff.

What can you do as a candidate? Be realistic about the level of position you can find and be prepared to make a sacrifice on salary if needs be. Improve your skills by spending time taking those high demand qualifications.

Are there any sectors that have been strong this year? IFA recruitment has remained strong, especially with well qualified candid-ates and a strong client following or demonstrable new business skills.

Similarly, there is a strong market for sole traders looking to join a bigger group but still retain an income stream.

From my experiences of the previous recession in the early 90s, it will take two or three years for the market to fully recover but when it does recover, there will be key shortages which will drive up salaries and companies will once again find it difficult to attract candidates to fill key roles.

For an employer, now is the time to recruit if budgets allow as you will be able to get some very experienced recruits at below market rates.
In summary, for candid-ates, it is never too late to gain extra qualifications. This will give you an edge over your competitors. Be realistic about salary expectations and if you are at interview stage, good, solid prep and practice can make a big difference.

And for employers, now is the time to gear up for the upturn as candidate supply is high.

Simon Bean is managing director of Recruitment Connection

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