3 Tactics to Winning the War for Talent in the UK

3 Tactics to Winning the War for Talent in the UK

Key Takeaways:

  • Various sectors, including hospitality, retail, and healthcare, struggle to fill vacancies due to factors like the cost-of-living crisis and Brexit impacts.
  • Employer branding and employee value proposition (EVP) play crucial roles in attracting and retaining talent, offering more than just remuneration, such as career progression and work-life balance.
  • Tailoring recruitment strategies to individual candidates' preferences and needs can create a more meaningful connection and increase the likelihood of successful hires.
  • Choosing the right recruitment channels and using analytics to refine strategies are crucial for reaching the target audience effectively.

Competition for talent in the UK market is fierce. While the number of vacancies in the UK has been falling recently and is currently reported at 916,000, this still represents a lot of unfilled roles. It was reported in April 2024 that the estimated number of vacancies was down by 204,000 from January to March 2024 compared with the same period in the previous year. However, vacancies remain at 120,000 unfilled jobs – greater than in the same period pre-Covid. This continues to lead to recruitment problems for organisations in some sectors, especially for entry-level roles.


Unprecedented Cross-Sector Recruitment Challenges in the UK Market

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), hard-to-fill vacancies remain high. Thirty-eight percent of UK employers still report “hard-to-fill” vacancies. In hospitality and recreation, 34% of vacancies are hard to fill, while 28% of wholesale and retail vacancies are difficult to fill. In healthcare, this figure stands at 39%. These challenges have come about for a number of reasons – one central being the cost of living crisis. This has led to entry-level employees in some sectors “shopping around” in other sectors for better employment options to help them meet their rising bills.

Unusually, this saw competition across the UK recruitment market between companies seeking employees to work in sectors such as retail, hospitality, and social care. Brexit continues to bite, and plans for tightening migration are likely to exacerbate the problem, with retail, hospitality, and leisure set to suffer the most. The problems are most acute at the lower end of the recruitment market, with hospitality in particular, reporting vacancies 48% higher than pre-pandemic levels. Evidence suggests that candidates that would have previously stuck to a career in retail may be more likely to consider care home work, or working in coffee shops – or vice versa.

At the same time, employers are really feeling the pinch. Wage bills have increased significantly, as employers made large pay awards of 5% to help employees with the cost-of-living crisis. This means that many organisations are now reluctant to chase prospective employees with further salary rises beyond their current position. So, how can employers compete with one another in the shrinking talent pool for candidates when they also have limited financial resources at their disposal?

recruitment marketing


1. Showcase Employer Brand and Employee Value Proposition

The importance of employer brand and employee value proposition (EVP) to recruitment and retention cannot be underestimated. Whilst these might not be the most obvious tactics for lower-value roles, they can be a real differentiator. Faced with a choice of roles at similar hourly rates, candidates will gravitate to the employer that feels most like home.

What sets organisations apart in this respect will be what helps them to compete cross-sector for employees. There are various areas to focus on for employer branding and EVP. This is not just remuneration. It might include career progression, learning and development, the prestige of working at the firm, work-life balance, fulfilling a purpose in life, and much more. Focusing on what the organisation genuinely offers that sets it apart from its competitor firms that are also recruiting is an absolute must.

For example, if career growth is a genuine opportunity that the organisation offers for entry-level workers, this could be showcased by presenting potential career paths on the recruitment site, across social media, and in job advertisements. A personal touch can really make a difference, so a great option could be having video profiles of people who have worked their way up through the organisation to demonstrate what's possible. The same techniques can be used to highlight a strong positive culture or opportunities for skills development.

Ignoring the concept of employer brand will lead to continued recruitment challenges. A robust employer brand helps potential employees understand the organisation's reputation and decide whether they want to work there.  

Tip: The Recruitics RX Studio can be tremendously beneficial in this regard, helping to reinvent or elevate the employer branding and EVP so that organisations can really stand out.


Work-Life Balance

While providing higher wages to outbid the market might not be feasible for every company, improving flexible working options can be. A recent report by the CIPD found that four million UK employees changed jobs due to a lack of flexibility. The evidence strongly suggests that companies still sitting on the fence about flexibility are losing out; however, employees have the legal right to request flexible working.

Flexible working does not necessarily mean the option to work remotely, as some may believe. There are a multitude of options, such as job sharing, flexitime, compressed hours, hybrid working, and term-time working. Regardless of the sector, there will be flexible options to suit the organisation, though this might require some thought about how the business operation will work.

It is important for employees to have the chance to improve their work-life balance. Flexible working is also good for the organisation, allowing it to be increasingly agile. Organisations that clearly advertise their flexible working culture and are consistent across their entire recruitment site are likely to benefit the most from leveraging this opportunity.

Note: Ensure that flexible working options are highlighted within the company profile, on social media platforms, in job descriptions, and in career blurbs.

remote work


2. Personalise the Recruitment Experience

As mentioned above, a personal touch can truly make a difference when creating a connection with a candidate. At its core, a personalised recruitment marketing strategy is about delivering the right messages to the right candidates at the right time. It's about understanding what makes each candidate tick and crafting communications that resonate on a personal level. 

By delving deep into the demographics, motivations, and pain points of different candidate segments, recruitment teams can paint a vivid picture of their ideal candidates and craft candidate personas. Armed with this knowledge, professionals can tailor their messaging and outreach efforts to speak directly to the desires and concerns of each group.

Note: For example, using video helps to develop a more authentic connection with these candidates. Evidence suggests that the target audience can retain 95% of what they see in a video, compared to 10% of information from posts that they read. Video helps to improve transparency, connect people to brands, and encourage them to apply for roles. Video can be used in many ways, such as a day-in-the-life video explaining the job duties or explaining how interviewing and hiring works.

Also, utilising the right recruitment channels is crucial in ensuring that these personalised messages reach their intended audience. Whether it's through social media, job boards, or targeted advertising, selecting the appropriate channels for each candidate segment increases the likelihood of success and boosts conversion rates. Then, as candidates progress through the recruitment journey, personalised messaging makes them feel distinct from the crowd and more like individuals whom the organization genuinely wants to hire.

Note: With the right tools and analytics at their disposal, recruitment marketing teams can gain invaluable insights into candidate behavior and preferences. By identifying trends and patterns, they can refine their personalisation strategies and stay one step ahead of the competition.


3. Streamline and Enhance the Hiring Process

Getting the recruitment process right is another way to improve recruitment and to outwit the competition for talent for entry-level roles. There are two elements to this, both focusing on bettering the candidate experience. One is improving the recruitment process to better appeal to target candidates. The second is making the process more efficient and speeding it up, in some cases through the use of technology.

Finding ways to improve recruitment efficiency can help close the deal with the prospective employee much faster, speeding up the entire process. Where the process can be automated to speed it up, this will help to retain interested candidates who might otherwise accept jobs elsewhere. Organisations that are slow to secure hires will not win the talent race. If candidates do not hear back quickly, they accept roles elsewhere. 

Moreover, good planning and effective deployment of technology can streamline the recruitment process, saving precious time that could mean the difference between securing top talent and losing them to a competitor. From automated applicant tracking systems to AI-powered chatbots, technology has revolutionized every aspect of recruitment, making it faster, more efficient, and more personalised than ever before.

optimizing the recruiting process


Moving Forward

In short, a tough recruitment market continues to present challenges for employers in some sectors to attract employees, especially entry-level employees. Companies are experiencing cross-sector competition for prospective employees. Finding ways to compete in this challenging recruitment climate is paramount. Organisations can achieve this by standing out with their employer branding and EVP, offering much-desired flexibility to employees, and streamlining the recruitment process.
At Recruitics, we are experts in recruitment, including employer branding and EVP development, recruitment advertising, and streamlining recruitment processes. Contact us today to elevate your recruitment processes!

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