By Jason Atkinson, Managing Director, Russam GMS

Many are calling 2015 the “year of the candidate”.

If we look back over the history of the recruitment industry – focusing on management roles – we can see that things move roughly in seven year cycles. We are currently in year two of another cycle in the industry, where we are seeing serious momentum and solid growth in terms of both senior interim and permanent recruitment.

In the last period, The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that we have the highest employment rates since comparable records began in 1971. The number of self-employed professionals has also increased by 33,000 to reach 4.53 million people. The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) is also very positive, stating that the number of interim placements in the private sector has been the highest since the survey started in 2006.

Anecdotally the impact is being seen; such as the insurance company that has over 50 vacancies in their commercial area and a top tier charity that desperately need talented people at all levels – especially in “narrow” areas such as business development, governance and digital marketing.
But there is a mismatch. There is supply and there is demand but the problem is that they don’t align perfectly – they are overlapping 15% – 20% of the time.

The reason is that nowadays successful organisations, be they public, private or not-for-profit, are moving at a very fast pace and the skills they need today will be different from those they will need in 2 – 3 years. For example, clients are calling Russam GMS daily looking for Chief Digital Officers to maximise online efficiency and Risk Management Specialists to help cope with increasing regulation, roles that didn’t even exist in that organisation 100 weeks ago.

It is therefore the year of the candidate, but only if you have the skills. The situation is back to the day where you have five offers on the table if you are a candidate at the top of your game. If you are a candidate and don’t have the skills that are in demand then you have work to do. You have to find the niches and new avenues to position your professional product(s).

The annual Russam GMS Snapshot Survey (started 14 years ago and still going strong) shows that 60% of all interim executives placed are required because they have unique skills that are completely absent from the organisation they are going in to help.

And it’s not just the hard skills; it’s having the right attitude, ability and strategic nous to hit the ground running. There is no honeymoon period these days across any management role. The recession has made us all – and I say this as a Managing Director of a growing business – extremely judicious about bringing in the right people and removing the wrong people.

In short, it may be the year of the candidate but we will have a problem in the next few years if the supply of talent does not improve – especially with the continuing overall drop in employment levels.

What are your thoughts?