Regions Market Insight – February 2022

Since my last update outlining the HR recruitment trends outside of London, we have seen tremendous change. We as a business have grown in each of our locations, West Midlands and Thames Valley, and are imminently about to open our first office in the North West in Manchester reflecting our clients’ increasing demands for a quality service from a partner that understands HR.

The market itself has seen the war for talent reach fervent levels. As a recruiter it has actually been an incredibly enjoyable time, mostly because when we engage with our clients now, they already know, that what worked for them in the past needs to change to get the right talent.  Organisations have, almost exclusively, evaluated their hiring process and removed unnecessary steps, focussing on upskilling and empowering hiring managers to make decisions. They are embracing the interview as a true, two-way process, that it should be in normal times, and has to be in candidate short markets.

On the whole we have not seen any level necessarily quieter, but we have seen a distinct increase in the mid to senior £70-£110k permanent recruitment level. Interim lags from the pre IR35 levels we have seen, but I strongly expect to see that be rectified over the next 12 months. We have begun to see candidates engaged in temp assignments be asked to enter into 4 week notice periods which is unusual, and we have also seen an increase in candidates’ notice periods in the junior perm market extending to 3 months, from a traditional month.

The HR generalist is the most sought-after skill set we have seen outside of London at a variety of levels. Talent Acquisition continues to be a very competitive part of the market, and shows no signs of slowing, with many organisations looking for recruiters to swell their ranks. We’ve seen transformation projects re-invigorated and system implementation skills sets required, as well as a lot of movement in the reward space. As per my last update, L&D, Talent and Performance has proven to be in strong demand. It’s fair to say almost the whole market is in rude health!

We continue to see organisations that would have previously looked to hire positions in central London, look across their office portfolio and cast the net to attract the best people for their business. Some firms are not even penalising salaries based on location, including only a caveat that successful applicants must cover their own commuting costs when heading to their base office (London or otherwise).

It could be argued that there’s never been a better time to be based out of London and looking for a new role. Around 10 years ago, I spent a number of years running a recruitment business that covered Cornwall. A quirk of that market was you would sometimes find exceptionally senior candidates make themselves available for quite junior roles, on the basis of sacrificing their own career advancement, to enable them to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. A compromise that many wouldn’t have to make today!

What remains to be seen is how this “new normal” continues now that the rules allow us all to return to the office once more. Will we see organisations start to centralise again, in a bid to preserve culture and share best practice? Will organisations continue with the belief that the benefits of wider talent pools outweigh the loss of team cohesiveness?  How as leaders do we find the balance? One thing is for certain, how people perform their roles, and the value they can add to organisations plans, continues to matter more now than where they are based.

Gavin Jones

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