Candidates and a Candidate Driven Market

For the final installment of my short three-part blog series, we will be looking at some of the effects and consequences that a Candidate Driven Market has on candidates; after having explained a Candidate Driven Market and its impact on employers in part one and part two.


So, pulling the previous two blogs together, we can summarise that a Candidate Driven Market means a surfeit of demand for candidates and a deficit of supply of candidates. Supply and demand, GCSE Economics, salaries increase, and everyone is smiling. End of story. Right?


Well, as usual in life, things aren’t quite that simple. So let’s look at the situation in a little more detail.


Will salaries increase?


There is no doubt that monthly salary reports and surveys for the remainder of this year, and possibly into 2022, will clearly show salaries and earnings across the UK economy growing, and I am certain that will be pretty impressive growth too. But this has to be put into the context that the UK economy effectively shut for three months and was heavily reliant on furlough for the remainder of 2020 and well into 2021. Many workers did not see their furlough topped up – so as they go back to full-time work (although not all will be so fortunate) there is a built-in 20% increase compared to the previous year. Also, in roles and sectors where bonus payments are available, they would have been in very short supply in 2020 but will be seen returning this year.


But, as there is a clear shortage of suitably experienced workers across pretty much the whole of the UK economy, and a huge increase in demand, clients are likely to increase the rate of salary offered to secure what is becoming a scarce resource. It is still too early to predict confidently what the likely level of increases in salaries will be.



Will my salary increase?


Well, I can’t offer advice on individual circumstances in this blog, but the trends we are seeing in terms of increases in salaries currently only seem to be applying to new vacancies. If anything, we are seeing more businesses look to freeze salaries in 2021 and possibly into 2022. In the past, this has often been suspected as business taking advantage of recession to reduce cost and headcount and thus increase profit & shareholder return, although not in my opinion or experience.


However, in this most unusual of times, it should not be underestimated how much businesses in many sectors have been hit by the events of 2020 and the subsequent period. Of course, there has been previously unimaginable government support, but many, many companies have had to spend hard-earned reserves and take on additional debt to survive and protect jobs. So it is to be expected that there needs to be a period of stability and commercial recuperation, and this could restrict pay awards in the short term.



Should I move to improve my earnings?


That isn’t for me to say. Of course, our salary is important – most people work to live – but for the candidates I see who are the most successful (and by that I mean happy, fulfilled and comfortable with their career journey) it isn’t the most important but one of 3 or 4 factors that are important in assessing our current role and potential future roles.


In the current market, if you have a stable career history, capability and integrity you would almost certainly increase your current salary if you were to look at new opportunities. But first, it is important that you look at your current situation to assess whether a move is the correct decision at this stage in your career.


If you are happy in your current role, you feel valued, you have a fair remuneration package you are happy with, you see opportunities to develop you and your career, you have a good relationship with colleagues and management, enjoy your role and respect the organisation – what is there to move for?


If you can’t tick any of these, then of course you would be right to seriously consider your options and take advice on the current market in your field, the opportunities and your value in the market. But be sure you speak to an experienced recruitment specialist; one who understands your role and has a strong track record in it, and the contacts and market knowledge to back that up. It is a bit like selling your house – the agent with the flash suit and the flash car who values your property at the absolute top of the market is probably desperate for your instruction and won’t know what to do with it when it lands.


Also, if your current employer is struggling after the impact of covid and lockdown it may be wise to take advice earlier so you can understand the market and have some control over your short-term circumstances.


But if you are unsure or unhappy with just one or two of the areas above, speak to your manager.


• If you feel financially undervalued – speak to your manager.
• If you are unsure of the direction of the business – speak to your manager.
• If you need greater confidence in the learning & development plan for yourself and how that will aid your growth – speak to your manager.
• If you don’t think your employer will foster a more flexible work environment and that is something important to you – speak to your manager.


Particularly in these times where many people are working remotely for at least part of the week, co-operation and communication are essential.


But equally, if you feel the culture of the business or the relationship you have with your manager would prevent an approach – you probably need to think seriously about the culture match between you and your values and those of the company.



If I don’t move, will that hold my earnings back?


Not necessarily. If you are in a business that values you, develops you, trusts you, and gives you work that stretches and interests you your skills and experience will accelerate; and it is that which will ultimately affect your career earning potential.


It can be compared to what many of us were told in school; you are more likely to prosper in a subject you enjoy, providing it stretched you. This is no different in the world of work.


Also, there is value in a career record that shows loyalty and stability, although not at the expense of your development.


Sometimes you have to move. Sometimes it is the right thing for your career and sometimes you have no choice. But, when actively considering whether it is time to move on from a business it is vital you objectively review your current role, development, opportunities, relationships, the business’s direction, the business’s values, and only then your current earnings. Then you are in the right position to decide whether your aspirations are best served by continuing to develop where you are or to drive that development in another role which may be in another business.  If you decide to move, make sure it is for the right reasons and not only for a salary increase.



Short Term Challenges


In the second installment of this series, we highlighted some of the challenges businesses will see over the next 6-18 months as candidates continue to be a scarce resource. Part of that was upward pressure on salaries, but also there were a number of immediate, practical problems.


The most obvious impact on a team is the shortage of headcount. The consequence of that is obvious – there will be more work to do than people to execute it. And the work level may not be that which your usual role covers. It is important we protect our mental wellbeing and energy levels in these unusual times and it is also important to pull together. Your managers and directors are probably also stressed – they haven’t operated through a global pandemic either. So the short-term need is for everyone to have a really positive approach and to muck in for the greater benefit. It will help and it will be recognised.


Also, don’t be afraid of change. We have seen more change in working practices in the last 15 months than we have seen in the previous five years and that genie won’t go back in the bottle. Embrace change – it could be essential in managing increased workload while your team is short-staffed. That could be new systems, new processes, revised duties. Be open-minded – the change may offer brilliant experience and opportunity.


Don’t be afraid to suggest changes and improvements. You are doing your job. You are an expert at the tasks you execute. So you are probably the best placed to spot areas where efficiencies and improvements can be found.



And the Future?


Well… Whatever stage of your career you are in, I can’t guarantee, but sincerely hope that you won’t have to work through another major global pandemic.


That means that it is likely in the next year or two we will continue to see economic growth and this will bring both opportunity and reward; particularly for those with an open and inquisitive mind, with good work ethic.


Whilst some commentators are already talking up working in the office five days a week, I think those days are gone in service industries (upon which much of the UK economy is based) so, embrace this new normal. It will create new opportunities. Traditional corporate hierarchies will be challenged and there is likely to be a continued, greater democracy in terms of age, demographics, and skills on where the next new ideas and new businesses are born from.


So, be open-minded, be positive, and above all, be kind – it often comes back with interest.


I hope you have found this series engaging, informative and insightful. If you have not yet read part one and part two, please follow the links below.


Part One – An Introduction to the Candidate Driven Market

Part Two – What Impact Does a Candidate Driven Market Have on Employers?