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Why there’s more to great recruitment than a pay rise

20th September

Dan Topping

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There was a joke that used to do the rounds in recruitment circles:

Q: “What do you call a recruitment consultant who doesn’t always negotiate the best salary?”

A: “An ex-recruitment consultant.”

And there was some truth in that.  Ambitious people have always worked hard and wanted to be rewarded.  A new job created an opportunity to push those rewards higher.  And ‘rewards’ remained a euphemism for ‘money’.

The time of maximum opportunity for candidates is, of course, when client demand exceeds supply.  Which is where we find ourselves in so many sectors right now.  The reasons for this are unsurprising:

  1. Financially secure companies that implemented freezes during lockdown are now hiring again
  2. Markets that slowed during the pandemic are picking-up

With the dynamic shifting in favour of the candidate, we’ve witnessed some unusual events recently:

  • Candidates have been taking interviews with multiple job offers with other firms already on the table. 
  • The speed of the recruitment process has accelerated.  A law firm we work with, and which typically meets candidates on a number of occasions, has recently made an offer after a single interview on Zoom.  Clients engaging in long processes are losing candidates.
  • One of our most experienced recruiters has said that she has never known so many candidates hold-off sending CVs to great businesses looking to recruit simply because they have already received so much interest in hiring them.

And all evidence suggests that this is just the start, with international travel still limited and some furlough schemes still in operation.

In this environment, it would be very easy for us to rub our hands gleefully and encourage clients to pay record-breaking salaries to secure their hires as quickly as possible. Our view, however, is different.

If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s that there is more to life than a paycheque.  We have spent huge periods of time unable to socialise or to go to work.  We’ve had significant barriers drawn around our personal freedom, which has given many of us a chance to reassess our priorities.

And for many people, the outcome of Covid will be to reassess their priorities.  Some want to spend more time at home.  Others wish to adjust their work/life balance.  Many want to pursue dreams that they hadn’t previously considered viable in the ‘old’ world of 2019.

So although we will always ensure that clients are offering fair remuneration, we are encouraging clients and candidates to seek the right cultural fit. 

Some companies are already changing working patterns and offering a four and a half-day week ending at Friday lunchtime.  Others are pushing their passion for sustainability, developing relationships with other businesses who share their primary goal of making the world a greener, cleaner place.  One of our clients is throwing itself into supporting the local community, encouraging staff to spend half a day each week working at local schools or on community projects.  Another has a ‘bring your dog to work day’!

These are not opportunistic announcements.  I believe they are symbolic of our times.  Never before has it been more important for firms to walk the walk and demonstrate that their brand reflects their culture. 

And in that spirit, with demand for good candidates growing, there’s never been a better opportunity for people to find a place to work that reflects their priorities and worldview.

So our advice to clients who are desperate to recruit new people is to sell your culture as well as your pay structure.  Recruiting like-minded people is the key to developing a stronger brand for your team and your clients.

As for candidates, it’s completely natural to look for a well-paid role.  But we believe there’s more to life than that.  And on the basis that work takes up a huge proportion of your waking life, please don’t forget that the people you work with and the environment your work within will have a huge impact on your wellbeing long after the initial thrill of your new salary has sunk-in!

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