Vacancy activity is rising in Asia and the first signs of skills shortages have emerged. In such a market, employers that have not started to quicken their recruiting process have been the first to miss out on the best quality candidates.
What a difference 12 months makes. Last year will be remembered as a tumultuous year for many sectors. Compared with the preceding years, the recruiting landscape was remarkably different in 2009. The skills shortage all but disappeared from the radar and competition between candidates for job vacancies was very high.
This meant that employers, when recruiting, could take their time. A lengthy recruitment process, several stages of interviews and a long wait between final interview and offer were all tolerated by the larger pool of available candidates.
Talent is tight
But today financial services companies are expanding. Despite stringent budget constraints, we have seen a rapidly increasing demand for personnel. Given expected vacancy activity this year, it is likely that following 2009’s brief oversupply of talent, we will again see a return to a skills short market.
Financial services as a whole is leading the recovery, but the bounce-back is occurring a lot quicker in banking. In fact we’re already seeing renewed demand in front-office trading and in middle-office areas such as risk and compliance. There is also an increase in corporate finance and structured finance vacancies.
A multiple world
With vacancy activity really starting to heat up, the first instances of multiple offers have taken place. Those businesses that do not act quickly, particularly when recruiting in areas that are candidate-tight, are starting to miss out on the best quality candidates. These candidates are snapped up by competitors who act faster and more efficiently, and who no longer expect a huge influx of quality candidates for roles with rigid and lengthy criteria.
Instead, employers need to act quickly and decisively. It also helps to maintain realistic and flexible expectations about job seekers. In this way, an employer can quickly fill their vacancies with proven candidates with stable work histories and good relevant experience. Such candidates are not available for long.
To help speed up the length of the recruitment process in order to secure high-calibre candidates, employers should reduce the interview-to-offer timeframe. No more than two interviews should take place: one with the direct line manager followed by a second interview with senior management. If several senior managers need to be involved, try to arrange schedules so they can all attend one interview, rather than holding separate interviews for each.
At the height of the last skills shortage, some organisations held one comprehensive interview, calling senior management into the interview if the line manager was impressed, and offering the candidate pending successful testing if required.
Finally, we would caution that while quickening the pace of the recruiting process is important in order to secure the best staff, it should not trade time for the appropriate depth of information required for both parties to make a decision.
If you are looking for a new job in 2010, we would advise you to be ready to receive and action offers quickly, and be sure of your motivations for applying for specific jobs.
Emma Charnock is the regional director of Hays in Hong Kong.