Five trends that will help you win the fight for talent

As the summer holidays end and businesses gear up for their autumn recruitment plans there is plenty of uncertainty about  what the low unemployment rate and Brexit will mean for recruitment and retention of talent. BITC’s Employment Director, Cath Sermon, takes a look at the key trends in responsible recruitment that will help your business win the fight for talent.

1. Your “employment brand” matters

Savvy candidates will evaluate company brands before applying for a job, in much the same way they evaluate a consumer brand. A company’s website, job descriptions and application process will help jobseekers to evaluate whether they are the “right fit” for an employer. But with platforms like Glassdoor giving candidates and employees the opportunity to share what it’s really like to interview or work at a particular company, it’s vital employers get the recruitment process right or their reputation could be at risk .

A recent survey carried out by BITC, backed by the City & Guilds Group, showed that 22% of young people who had a bad experience of a recruitment process were put off a company completely, while one in ten was put off a whole sector. If employers want to build trust in their brand, developing a transparent and accessible recruitment process is a priority.

2. Digital technology  - it’s how you use it

Digital technology has transformed recruitment, from the job search, interview, video CVs and online profiles to social media giving employers a unique opportunity to directly connect with candidates.

Technology can lower costs for recruitment and increase access to opportunities for people  such as those located in rural areas, but it can also exclude people – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds without access to the internet or the latest smart phone. We’ve also seen it lead to discriminatory hiring practices, such as employers using unscrupulous recruitment software that automatically filters out potential candidates based on factors unrelated to their ability to do the job, such as age, race or gender.

3. Diverse workplaces are built on skills not just experience

A diverse workforce can foster new ways of thinking and help businesses to understand the needs of a broad customer base. Employers are looking at removing barriers to ensure that they attract a wide and diverse range of candidates. Diverse workplaces can be achieved by removing barriers, for example, PWC and Ernst & Young have scrapped UCAS points as entry criteria to their graduate schemes in order to attract talented people from disadvantaged backgrounds who can demonstrate their skills, but don’t necessarily have the academic qualifications that highlight this. 

Our Ban the Box campaign has sucessfully encouraged employers like Virgin Trains and the civil service to give ex-offenders a fair chance to compete for jobs by eliminating the criminal record tick box at the beginning of the recruitment process.

4. Look for talent amongst marginalised groups

Companies can miss out on the talent in groups that have been marginalised, but they are increasingly seeing the benefit and power in reaching out proactively to candidates from the long term unemployed through to former offenders.

Our Responsible Business of the Year, Veolia recently vowed to recruit 10% of its workforce from disadvantaged groups – including army veterans, ex-offenders, long-term unemployed and homeless people.

Other companies such as Boots UK worked with their recruitment agency, GI Group, to help create opportunities for ex-offenders, partnering with HMP Sudbury to deliver presentations about the roles they have available and also conducting interviews in the prison. The programme’s success has enabled GI Group to think more creatively about solutions for meeting their skills gaps.

While Barclays, through its Apprenticeship Programme, has targeted young people not in employment, education or training (NEETS), offering them places without any qualification requirements, and has increased retention as a result.

This trend will also mean that recruitment agencies need to get better at accessing this talent pool if they want to maintain a competitive advantage.

5. The supply chain is changing 

Building in sustainability through careful management and collaboration within supply chains is increasingly commonplace amongst responsible companies. This approach is now spreading to recruitment practices too. The Social Value Act ensures that the public sector procures on social impact as well as financial value, and has led to large companies looking to demonstrate their social impact when bidding for contracts. In recruitment this often means working with suppliers who recruit local or long term unemployed people, as well as marginalised groups mentioned above. One example is housing association Bolton@Home, which makes it a condition of contracts that suppliers provide employment and work experience opportunities for its tenants. 

For smaller companies interested in supplying large companies this can be a highly effective way to engage with them, and suppliers can take the lead, ensuing they have a competitive edge.

Cath Sermon is Employment Director at Business in the Community. For companies interested in evaluating their recruitment process and understanding where the barriers are for young people, go to our Youth Employment Assessment tool.