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The Hiring Challenge and the Search Solution

Posted by Mark Sheldon on 23/11/2021



The Challenges of Getting High-Quality Talent in the Hiring Crisis of 2021/22


The COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic disruption has created a complex labour environment where high-quality talent is very hard to find across many sectors. Here’s what to know about the hiring crisis, and how your company can navigate it.

There’s a labour shortage in the UK right now, playing out across many sectors and industries.

The shortage is so bad that it’s creating operational risks and even limiting services and growth in many businesses. 

Why is getting and retaining high-quality talent so challenging at this time?

The reasons for the hiring crisis are multifaceted and complex, and they aren’t all consistent from industry to industry.

There are logistical and personal reasons stemming from the pandemic itself, and organisational culture certainly plays a role as well.

We will outline the most significant reasons it’s difficult to find high-quality talent here:

  • Ongoing issues related to the pandemic and its ripple effects.
  • The talent gap
  • Skilled workers chasing better opportunities.
  • Fear of uncertainty and change.

Let’s explore each of these in greater detail.

Issues related to the pandemic

The workforce has responded in complicated ways to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some workers have left the workforce to care for children or elders. The burden of care affects female workers significantly more than male ones, leading to a gender-uneven return to work and jobs recovery.

Some workers are fearful of returning to workplaces where they will be in close contact with others. These workers are either withdrawing from the workforce or changing jobs (even industries) in pursuit of safer workplaces or remote work.

Still, others have got a taste of working remotely and they absolutely don’t want to go back to the way things were. They’re changing companies where possible to find a position that will allow them to stay fully remote.

There are likely other pandemic-related responses and factors beyond these, too. Suffice it to say: the pandemic has disrupted the workforce in significant ways that are fueling parts of the shortage of high-quality talent.

The talent gap

In many skilled industries, there’s a significant talent gap making hiring difficult. 

Simply stated, there aren’t enough doctors, nurses, data analysts, accountants, software programmers, construction workers, and many other worker types to fill the available jobs in those fields.

The reasons for these shortages are varied (when you’re looking at the short term). 

Professional Services and High-tech jobs often rely on new workers entering the workforce with the appropriate skills, and there just aren’t enough of them being trained. 

The talent gap was already in place before the pandemic. And it’s only getting worse, as baby boomers retire en masse without enough younger workers with the right skills to replace them. Combined with other pandemic-related factors, the talent gap has led to a true crisis across many fields.

Skilled employees chasing better perks

Given the crisis in high-quality talent, it’s certainly an employee’s market. This makes jumping ship for better benefits or higher pay much easier to do.

When employees know how desperate the company down the street is, they’re bolder about negotiating better pay. Add to this the fact that companies tend to prioritize hiring far more than retention, and it’s a recipe for upheaval. 

If employees know that their current employer isn’t likely to raise pay or add benefits, it’s even easier to consider moving on to greener pastures.

Fear of uncertainty and change during a pandemic

This point is somewhat the opposite perspective as the previous, but it’s just as important. 

During a time of unprecedented uncertainty and change, some workers are fearful of additional uncertainty and change. Whether they’re currently employed or currently sitting out of the workforce, they’re fearful of the unknown that comes with making a change in employment.

Companies trying to hire will have a difficult time convincing these people to leave their current jobs or reenter the workforce.

Why should you review your recruiting strategy?

If you’re struggling to find or retain high-quality talent, you’re not alone. It’s just very hard to do right now. Still, it’s not wise to assume that your firm is doing everything right in terms of recruiting strategy.

If you’re not hiring at the pace you want, then now is the perfect time to review your recruiting strategy. McKinsey offers some quality insights:

  • Focus on a small number of highly valuable positions rather than increasing recruiting intensity everywhere at once.
  • Create truly valuable offers of employment with tangible rewards (and deliver on what you promise). Here again, prioritise that small number of crucial jobs with more rewards.

How can your executive search be improved?

Steps to A More Strategic Executive Search Process

  1. Make sure your job description aligns with company goals. ...
  2. Focus on passive talent. ...
  3. Develop a smooth candidate experience. ...
  4. Evaluate and track your process.
  5. Engage a retained search firm

Why do we retain search?

The focus of a retained search is quality. You'll often be working with the best of the best recruiters with a high success rate. When it's crucial to get the right candidate for a high-stakes role, retained search offers a lower risk of a bad hire, and thus a higher certainty and comfort level.

Why should companies use retained executive search?

Only a retained executive search firm will locate and persuade executives who are not actively looking, i.e. not 'on the market', delivering only candidates with the right mix of experience, skills and knowledge, along with the requisite cultural fit.

Why is executive search important?

Executive search forms a vital process in the growth and development of a business. ... Finding and securing talented candidates in a competitive market can be a difficult task, which is why businesses often bring in executive search firms to ensure the best possible hiring outcomes.

What are the benefits of headhunting?

The main benefit of headhunting is that headhunters can source and identify the most qualified candidates to match your requirements. They have wide-ranging networks of professionals and potential candidates that they can tap into.

What makes a good search consultant?

Last but not least, the greatest executive search consultants work hard. Plain and simple. ... Consultants with these attributes achieve long term substantial billings; repeat business; long standing relationships with clients; respect from competitors and colleagues and a strong reputation in their respective industry.


At Savant, we are search experts in recruiting for permanent, interim and contract roles across the Accountancy and Finance and Technology sectors. We are here to assist you if you require expertise as part of your talent search or any of the points covered here. Please contact us 020 7633 2266 for an informal chat on how we have help you! 




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