The world as we know it is changing. Every aspect of our lives has been impacted in various ways by the unprecedented events of 2020, and the recruitment space is no different. As businesses re-adjust strategic priorities, hiring plans are constantly shifting. And professionals are frequently pivoting their career options.

But what does this mean for the STEM space in particular? Recently, we got in touch with a number of clients working across a range of STEM industries – including life sciences, engineering, and tech – to hear their thoughts.  We also spoke to our consultants and conducted external research to gain insight into the current marketplace.

So much is constantly changing, but we decided to share five factors that we believe are impacting the STEM hiring space right now.

STEM talent is in high demand

Global unemployment has been well reported across media outlets, but the STEM job market appears to be relatively healthy given the current situation. 75% of hiring managers we spoke to claim to be actively hiring right now.

And talent within technology – particularly cyber security and data roles – are noted as the hardest to recruit for right now. As more and more businesses shift their approach and transfer to remote settings, it makes sense that cyber and data pros will be needed to support with these monumental adaptations to business infrastructure.

The resilience of the STEM job market isn’t overly surprising – these are the jobs that our world needs right now. As we continue to navigate the changing situation, stay connected, and search for a whole range of health solutions, STEM is providing the answers to the planet’s biggest challenges.

Candidates are more open-minded to new sectors

A positive for hiring managers comes in the form of more choice – previously, many attractive candidates were solely focused on specific niches within markets. Now though, more candidates are exploring jobs in new sectors, or even looking at radically different career options within their industry.

Transferable skills are more important than ever before and hiring managers who tap into new talent pools could win the best talent for their organisation.

Geographical barriers are still prevalent

Back in June, we held an event as part of our STEM Series that discussed the future of work – in this roundtable, our panel of experts predicted that moving forward, we’d  start to see a  change in the way businesses would look to hire. The expectation was that geographical barriers would become radically redundant and that the workplace would end up diversifying, with those from a wider spectrum of backgrounds being hired.

This has been a popular viewpoint but it doesn’t look like we’re entirely there just yet. More than half the clients we spoke to were unwilling to look towards larger pools of candidates from different locations and backgrounds, which limits the talent pipeline in many ways.

There’s a whole range of reasons as to why this isn’t being realised to the extent we predicted. For some businesses it could come down to practicalities - their workforce may need to  be in a lab or factory. For many others, it could be a shift in mindset – if you’re a hiring manager who has followed a successful formula for a number of years, changing your approach overnight is a scary prospect.

Progress has been made in this area, but the journey has only just begun.

Recruitment processes are proving difficult

Our clients are happy to see more applications – but this doesn’t come without its challenges. As the volume of applicants increase, the complexity of processes becomes more convoluted – sifting out the strongest, most relevant, and most appropriate applications for every single job is difficult.

Our specialist recruitment conusltants utilise a range of tools to enable efficient recruitment processes, so we understand that without effective resource this can be highly overwhelming for businesses.

One specific challenge highlighted was the temptation to hire over-qualified candidates for a short-term fix, which could result in potentially dangerous situations if these professionals leave for a more suitable position when the market steadies itself.

Every situation is different, but our recruitment consultants provide our clients with personalised advice on the best solutions for each specific situation.

Applications at an all-time high

For some of our regions, there’s been a dramatic increase in the ratio of applications to jobs. In the Benelux and DACH regions, some markets have seen a 200% increase in applications.

Right now, we understand that a lot of businesses are reducing or pausing hiring activity. However, with such a significant spike in applications for STEM roles, businesses have an opportunity to select from talent that is ordinarily incredibly hard to find. And in some markets, the opportunity to attract niche contractors has never been greater. While we appreciate that it may not be an ideal time for businesses to hire from a financial perspective, is this too good an opportunity to miss out on in the long-term?

This is a highly interesting topic – STEM talent is still very much in demand, and across the core industries we operate, the skills gap is still alive. But as we navigate this situation some markets are receiving unprecedented interest in jobs like never before.

The question we have around this is the level of permanency – do we believe that this is a move towards narrowing the skills gap for some STEM markets? Or could this just be an immediate reaction to the unfortunate job losses brought on by the pandemic?

If you want to find out more about how our family of brands can support your hiring or job search needs at this time, please follow the links below.