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Recruitment in a Candidate Tight Market 



By Tray Durrant, Executive Director of London-based, Executive Support Recruiter Bain and Gray, outlines the latest market trends from their annual salary survey and suggests how finance companies looking to recruit new candidates in 2022 can stay a step ahead of the game  


The annual salary survey 2021-22 from London-based, Executive Support Recruiter, Bain and Gray shows a candidate-tight market where finance companies need to go the extra mile to attract quality executive support staff.  Our survey results underline the competitive nature of the recruitment market and the acute shortage of junior staff with one to two years’ experience.  While hybrid working is the ‘new normal’, employers looking to retain full-time, office-based staff must offer highly competitive packages to attract and retain both junior and senior candidates. And as ‘remote on-boarding’ ends, companies need to ensure office-based training is part of the robust set of benefits offered to staff to ensure their retention and evolution.  In-situ training is key to ensuring that the supply chain of candidates remains robust over the next five years.  


90% of client workforces are returning to the office for at least 3 or 4 days a week and recruits are expecting more flexibility when it comes to where they work.   The few companies recruiting for full-time, office-based positions are struggling to hire the best candidates at senior levels. Experienced candidates are accepting lesser paid roles if hybrid working is offered, whereas juniors still expect the most competitive package, regardless of hybrid working arrangements.  These sorts of factors must be ironed out well in advance of recruiting for a new member of staff, as a job that is advertised as a hybrid role to subsequently switch to a full-time office-based position is a certain way to prevent successful recruitment and on-boarding. 


Results show that the pipeline of jobs has doubled in the past year: the recruitment market has never been busier, and it is a candidate’s market, which means companies must work smarter to attract the best people.  The upsurge in roles was in all sectors and particularly in boutique finance and heavily funded start-ups.  


Companies need to be wise about salary scales and benefits from the go-get of the recruitment cycle.   There is no doubt that benefits and bonuses are increasing: 25-28 days holiday, generous pension contributions, private dental and health insurance have been complemented with hybrid working arrangements, life assurance, further training and generous bonus payments.  Benefits are expected to sharpen even further throughout 2022.  


Typically, executive support positions within finance companies have rigid salary bandings for roles, and it is important that the overall package is clear to the client and candidate from the outset.  In New York it will be mandatory to include a salary range on all job ads from the end of April 2022, a move which creates more clarity for all parties involved in the recruitment cycle.  Rigid salary bands also make for nuanced selection when recruiting candidates for a mid-level role at (around the £40-50,000 pay bracket). There is no doubt that more experienced candidates will be applying for other roles, and in today’s highly competitive market may find themselves tipped in another direction by a the offer of a slightly higher salary.  It’s not all about the pay and benefits, but clearly money talks, and talks loudly in the context of today’s unprecedented rises to the cost of living. 


Historically, the line manager interview stage in the recruitment cycle has been about finding a cultural fit and can often lead to a detailed grilling on a candidate’s experience and skills. In the current job market, line managers should be taking the opportunity to extol the virtues of the organisation to the candidate: explain the business culture, environment, average tenure of employees etc.  In today’s competitive market it is vital to sell the business and the particular the role they will be doing, in order to seal the deal with the right candidate.


Finance companies continuing to find it difficult to fill a particular position, should look at the use of temporary staff. With the return of business confidence, more companies are using temporary staff to plug the gaps in permanent and experienced staff, as well as cover maternity leave positions. It’s a way of ensuring business continuity while talking time to search and locate the best position for the permanent vacancy.  We have often seen temps so enamoured with their current role, they end up applying for and being appointed into the permanent vacancy for the same position


What is clear is that younger and less experienced positions are the roles proving the most difficult to source candidates for.  Since travel has re-opened for the first time in two years, many are choosing to take their delayed gaps years now, exacerbating the dearth in juniors with one to two years’ experience.  Companies seeking to redress this balance should look at providing superlative on-the-job training – particularly among those who on-boarded remotely during the pandemic. Now is the chance to train and retain younger members of staff, with face-to-face seminars, in-person learning by shadowing and learning through osmosis, as well as allowing for creativity around the water cooler or over after-work drinks in ways that have not been possible at the height of the pandemic. Our young staff are the workforce of today and tomorrow and it is in both the corporate and individual interest to provide exemplary training – including a better appreciation of the company culture and ethos – which will increase their lifespan within an organisation and endow them with the skills to face future challenges and roles. 


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