Oxfordshire Employment Trends: Upturn in jobs market boosts demand for quality candidates

James Frost Finance Director Newton Europe 2

James Frost Finance Director Newton Europe 2 - Credit: Archant

Job vacancies are taking longer to fill and many employers are finding it harder to recruit quality staff, according to a survey of 122 Oxfordshire businesses

The latest Oxfordshire Employment Trends Survey carried out by recruitment consultancy, Allen Associates, reveals that over one third found it harder to recruit the right people while 40% took longer to fill vacancies in the first half of this year when compared to the same period last year.

Almost half said they had increased salaries to secure their first choice of candidate while 60% had been more flexible when recruiting.

Growth is fuelling 60% of new hires in the businesses surveyed. Oxford-based operational improvement specialists, Newton Europe, have set themselves a growth target of 25% annum which translates into approximately 60 new employees a year.

James Frost, Finance Director at Newton Europe, said: “I think it’s always been difficult to find the best people. During the recession, quality staff weren’t moving.

Now they are starting to consider their options, but a rapid rise in demand has squeezed the market, so it’s still difficult.

“We only appoint the best people and although it may take longer now to fill vacancies than it did previously, we are still attracting quality consultants and support staff. This is partly due to our culture which is inclusive and rewards success. When it comes to making career choices, I don’t think candidates are all that motivated by salary on its own, but rather by the whole package – and it’s in this area that companies can get innovative and gain advantage.”

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Justine Pavey, HR Manager at Newton Europe, agreed. “People join us because of the potential for career development and other opportunities. Fit with our culture and team is crucial and a key recruitment criteria for us.”

Almost half the survey respondents rated ‘fit’ with existing culture and teams as more important when recruiting than skills, qualifications and experience.

Kate Allen, Managing Director at Allen Associates, is not surprised. “We have built our business and reputation over the last 15 years on carefully matching the right candidate to the right role within the right organisation. Every candidate is different and every vacancy has its own special set of circumstances which is why we interview every candidate and client in person.

“Competition for quality candidates is definitely getting hotter which can unfortunately translate into speed of response assuming a greater priority than attention to detail and suitability in the recruitment process,” continued Kate.

“Employers have every right to expect a timely response but they should satisfy themselves that potential candidates introduced to them by third parties have been properly sourced and assessed.

“The CV is clearly an important recruitment tool but used on its own, is not even half of the picture. It must be coupled with in-depth, professional interviews and assessment by skilled and experienced staff,” said Kate.

The survey shows a steep rise in permanent placements with 79% of employers recruiting more permanent staff in the first half of this year than the same period last year – up from 52% surveyed in July 2013.

How many new, permanent employees did you recruit in the first half of 2014?

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