At the first sign that we were out of the pandemic, Talent Acquisition professionals were one of the most in demand specialists in the market. Companies, who had turned the taps off hiring and in many cases downsized significantly, were now faced with a race to re-build their workforces. The companies that could re-establish their teams quickest would be the ones securing market opportunities first. Talent Acquisition roles were in high supply, and TA professionals were taking their pick between opportunities, and enjoying the remuneration discussions that follows high demand.
That was then, but things have changed, or settled, or worse. Last month, deliberatepractice placed an advertisement for ‘Talent Acquisition Opportunities’. We were fortunate to have a number of roles under this umbrella title for which we were recruiting. What better way to capture an array of Talent Specialists than to post a broad-brushstroke ad?
What we didn’t expect was the incredibly large number of applications received within a 2-week period. Candidates had an impressive range of skills, many of whom possessed extensive experience in both in-house and Agency position. Their replies were swift and there was genuine interest in the opportunities at hand. In some cases, we sensed a heightened degree of nervousness from highly skilled TA professionals.
This unforeseen volume of responses led to some insightful conversations. Where were the Applicants at in their careers currently? What factors were driving their job search? How were they feeling about the market overall?
Our discussions were broad, uncovering a range of information that paints a picture of the state of the Talent Acquisition candidate market at this point in time:
- Candidate employment contracts ending on 30 June. Whilst there are no surprises with this EOFY timing generally, what stands out is that often these – largely RPO – contracts had previously been extended by months or years. One candidate had held the position of Talent Acquisition (TA) Partner for a leading retailer for a number of years, another with a well-known major finance brand for over 18 months. Both candidates expressed shock at the (seemingly) sudden call to cease the projects they had been working on, which ultimately led to the end of their tenure.
- An influx of Talent professionals with in-depth experience in high-tech recruitment such as data analytics, software technology, DevOps and UX/UI design. This inflow mirrors the well-publicised redundancies, a.k.a the “Tech wreck” at software and tech companies such as Xero, who announced the release of up to 16% of their employees in March, Atlassian’s cut of 120 jobs in Australia and the local impacts of Microsoft’s decision to cull 10,000 jobs globally. A candidate we spoke with cited the need to pre-empt a redundancy from her tech-specific recruitment Agency as the reason for her current search.
- The potential need to reconsider salary expectations. If the tech hiring boom is on pause, so too are the higher-than-average salaries for specific tech TA skills. More candidate supply = more competition for roles, which inevitably leads to greater salary flexibility.
- The list of candidates’ non-negotiables is declining. In their enthusiasm to secure Talent Acquisition professionals, organisations were offering many incentives and just saying ‘yes’ to whatever realistic requests they received from candidates on the way in. This led to 100% remote work being widely accepted, salaries increasing quite significantly and other benefits being showered upon candidates. Now, however, the list of non-negotiables that candidates bring to the table is diminishing. Some candidate requirements are beginning to be viewed as hurdles, deeming it more likely that another more flexible candidate -with fewer non-negotiables – will be selected. Hybrid working is still widely sought after, valued and accepted by employers, while other previous non-negotiables (such as fully remote working) are becoming nice-to-haves or not mentioned.
- Quality TA people are still in demand. Talent Acquisition success is far more than just hiring good people. TA is a system, and the best TA people build out the system that enables an organisation to understand what talent they need now and into the future, and how to most effectively engage these people at the right time. The best TA people articulate a clear strategy that covers process, systems, branding, competencies, workforce planning, talent pooling, candidate experience, selection/ assessment tools, onboarding and more. Finding the best people is a critical part of the process . However, TA people who have the ability to design and communicate strategy whilst being hands-on and output oriented, are in the highest of demand.
What is evident is that the growth in post-COVID job opportunities in some sectors – such as tech -has slowed significantly. Hiring, HR and Payments platform Deel’s CEO claimed recently that, while the low current unemployment rate in Australia means that many people can find jobs quickly, “… talent acquisition has been very, very focused on hiring a lot of people, but now a slowdown is hitting a bit, you don’t need an army in acquisitions.”
With this in mind, TA practitioners in the tech space (or those who have a very focused TA background) could benefit from leveraging and marketing their transferable skills to increase their ability to recruit across corporate or other business verticals, rather than only in a specialty space. This may positively impact their employment opportunities and personal marketability in the short and long term.
It’s never all bad news for switched-on Talent Acquisition Specialists. Those who seek ongoing learning and diversified skills training within a slowing economy will be in the lead of any job search. This is especially true as organisations face increasing pressure to manage costs and optimize resources. Retaining top talent, including within the Talent Acquisition space, is an evergreen imperative for all organisations.
If you have feedback on the above, we’d love to hear it. And we’d welcome the opportunity to speak with you about your career and/or your company’s needs on the HR Recruitment, leadership development or outplacement fronts. Please feel free to reach out to Sophie Lim, Principal Consultant at email@example.com.
deliberatepractice is a vibrant, client, solution focused boutique HR consulting firm. We provide contemporary and practical specialised HR services.
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