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Commerce, Industry and Not for Profit Market Update – December 2021

“Clients know they need to come out swinging if they want to find the best talent.”

Simon Hunt, Managing Director - Oakleaf Partnership

Is anyone else wondering how on earth we are in mid-December already?? It feels like this year has been and gone at a phenomenal rate. We have been incredibly busy at Oakleaf this year, rebuilding as the HR recruitment market bounced back so strongly, relocating back centrally to our fantastic new office in We Work 1 Poultry, building on our TRS brand in the US and launching our TCT brand in the UK.

It does now seem that the market is starting to stabilise which I hope will allow businesses to plan through their hiring more – it has been a hugely reactive, time short recruitment market which creates a unique set of challenges.

In Oakleaf Executive, the senior / director level hiring remains patchy depending on industry and sector – there is a current surge in activity in the talent acquisition space which has been relatively quiet year to date. We will be continuing with our “Movers and Shakers” data in early 2022 – if you would like to sign up for this then please do here.

In our specialist markets, the reward market is really starting to recover with greater pace. Although it has been very consistent in perm hiring, the interim market has been very slow, and we are finally seeing this change for the better. Payroll has remained consistently busy of late, clients in commerce onshoring payroll operations and competition for talent pushing salaries up – especially for specialists with global payroll experience.

Our professional services customers are very busy hiring at the more junior end of the market and they have been through a cycle of everyone looking at TA hiring to now focusing on learning, development and OD roles. We are also seeing a pattern of firms losing out on talent to bigger spending FS businesses. The financial services space is also very busy at this junior end and we are seeing a crazy hike in salaries (by 10-15k for HR Administrators). We are experiencing a resurgence of interim/day rate work across all HR roles – Reward is also very busy across FS.

Our broader UK wide business is comparatively much quieter in the junior market. We are seeing much more work at manager level in the Thames Valley and Midlands and the majority of hiring across the generalist skill set.

 

Amy Morris, Partner – Commerce & Industry      Amy Morris

Since our last update in April, I am delighted to announce continued growth across all our commerce and industry markets. The months following the summer saw a 31% rise in roles overall, with an extraordinary 175% growth across our interim day rate market. The fixed-term contract market dipped slightly by comparison, down 17% over the same period but the demand for temp help is an extremely encouraging development. With the surge in demand to hire prevalent, we have been active in securing talent to bolster our own team.

As such I am happy to introduce some new faces:

 

Whilst Talent Acquisition remains the most sought-after skill set (44% of our current portfolio), our Generalist job numbers are now growing (39%) with an ever-increasing demand for HR Business Partners to drive through the organisational change needed in our new world.

Tech, Media & Telco

The Tech/Media/Telecomms HR market is absolutely booming and these sectors are clearly leading the recovery post-COVID. Oakleaf’s TMT division has never been busier and we are seeing some really positive trends across all levels. In fact, November was our busiest month, year to date, with December not showing any signs of slowing down.

The junior HR market always moves fastest and represents 55% of our roles in this market. We’ve seen clients having to move very quickly to strengthen their operational HR structures, with Talent Acquisition remaining at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Oakleaf are currently seeing Talent Acquisition roles contributing over 44% of our workload, nearly double pre-pandemic levels. We’ve seen a marked increase on instructions for £35-£45k TA roles, including several large-scale projects from major tech firms looking to hire 10-15 TA professionals at a time. Inevitably this means we have had to get creative with our sourcing methods, however new flexible ways of working allow us to source candidates from wider geographical areas.

Clients are investing in senior hires as well. Our senior permanent and interim practice has seen a dramatic rise in HR leadership positions since the summer, contributing to 44% of the TMT business, an increase of 30% from the early summer. Talent Acquisition has been a real focus with employee branding, EVP and TA function transformation experience being high in demand. Clients know they need to come out swinging if they want to find the best talent. Of course, recruitment is only one piece of the puzzle, and the wider HR market is picking up too. Head of/Director level roles are on the rise, particularly in the Tech and Fintech start up spaces. London continues to be attractive for venture capital with over £5.3bn invested in H1, an increase on 2020 and over twice that of any other European city. Candidates with solid commercial acumen and a real entrepreneurial attitude are highly sought after.

Industry & Science

We have seen a significant increase in demand in this space with HR preparing for large organisational change programs. Clients are currently focusing more on finding transactional talent with 73% of our roles in the mid-market level here. There is a real strain on HR teams at the moment with a lack of talent at this level making change programs a much slower and painful process.

This market is no different to TMT with a larger proportion of our roles (54%) sitting in recruitment and talent acquisition. We have seen an unprecedented amount of duplicate roles within large corporate organisations who are coming out of Covid stronger than ever. Lots of clients are reinventing their market proposition making it a really exciting time to join with lots of enticing organisational change work for both HR Business Partners and specialists to lead on.

Consumer

This market has seen the biggest growth over the last six months. We have seen an 88% increase in roles across this space compared to the 31% rise across the wider C&I team. Similarly, talent acquisition remains the highest demand with 59% of our roles, however, this is unsurprising given the mass exit of talent out of this sector during the height of Covid last year.

We are, as a result, seeing some real business innovation with clients responding to consumers’ new needs and buying behaviours. It is now all about accessibility to market and allowing buyers quick and transparent experiences. Our consumer team have been working tirelessly to support the rebuild in this market enticing top talent to move into this sector particularly from our technology platforms bringing lots of knowledge and experience of doing this well.

This market bucks the wider team’s trend, however, with the majority of roles being permanent and fixed-term contract over interim. Unfortunately, this is stopping some talent from considering this sector but we are hoping that this will change over the coming months and we will start to see those interim/day rates roles return.

Whilst there is no doubt that our Not for Profit clients were hit hard last year they are certainly coming back fighting. We are busiest at the transactional mid-level where there is a  huge focus on process efficiency. This market is seeing the largest amount of fixed-term contract and interim roles contributing to 63% of our current portfolio. Most of these interim roles are longer term, allowing clients to move quickly in a busy market and giving them more flexibility with budget sign off.

We are now starting to see more senior roles coming on to the market with some mandates coming through as we approach the New Year.

Not for Profit

Whilst there is no doubt that our Not for Profit clients were hit hard last year they are certainly coming back fighting. We are busiest at the transactional mid-level where there is a  huge focus on process efficiency. This market is seeing the largest amount of fixed-term contract and interim roles contributing to 63% of our current portfolio. Most of these interim roles are longer term, allowing clients to move quickly in a busy market and giving them more flexibility with budget sign off.

We are now starting to see more senior roles coming on to the market with some mandates coming through as we approach the New Year.

Commerce & Industry Interim

Lastly, the increase in volatility means the interim market is coming back stronger than ever. Whether to cover short term projects or where clients recognise that there is a need to hire, but are still cautious since the pandemic, our interim business is moving quickly at all levels. The interim market has faced a lot of disruption over the last few years with Brexit, IR35 and then the pandemic, however specialist skill sets are back in demand and Oakleaf’s Commerce & Industry and Not for Profit division have worked on a wider array of project roles recently including Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, Talent Management, L&D and Change/Transformation.

Of course, this increase in demand has influenced competition. We’ve seen a substantial rise in salaries for new hires and with candidates having multiple offers or buy backs. Simply put, the best candidates have never been in such a strong position so candidate experience from first contact, through interview stages to offer is more important than ever.

 

 

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