Dave Rees, Chief Sales Officer at SThree, discusses how businesses can gain an advantage in the ‘war for talent’.

As tech continues to develop and more tasks become automated, jobs are becoming more creative and complex than ever before.

We’re already seeing that, even in recruiting teams, where the likes of ‘talent analytics’ roles across the world have grown by 111% in the last five years, according to LinkedIn.

These new niche roles require specialist skills that are in short supply, meaning there’s a real ‘war for talent’.

To put that into perspective, in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors alone, where SThree’s focus lies, the shortage of skilled staff is costing UK businesses an estimated £1.5 billion a year.

It means that the ability to find and retain the best talent, particularly in those supply-constrained markets, is crucial, and employers must be able to offer excellent working conditions to candidates.

Gaining an advantage

The ‘war for talent’ has been raging for over 20 years and while it’s now more apparent than ever that talent has won, the best, most specialised candidates have always held the power when it comes to jobs.

The challenge has been that many companies have been slow to react to this and that has impacted working environments, culture, tech and how they actually hire people.

But hiring the best people is only half of the battle. Research by Deloitte found that almost half of millennials and Gen Zs would quit their current jobs in the next two years if given the choice.

It means companies need to move fast and change how they operate if they want to attain and retain the best talent because in-demand specialists require so much more from employers than ever before.

Just being a ‘big name’ company isn’t enough anymore; people want to work for companies with a purpose. Candidates want to work on cutting edge projects, including on the latest drugs in the pharmaceuticals industry, or on the latest life sciences or tech projects.

The other side is that businesses that don’t invest in the latest tech, for example, will see people move on regularly.

The importance of having a cultural fit is massive and this will almost always be part of the recruitment process – this is where the human element and the need for expert recruiters is really important.

There is also the matter of work patterns to consider. In the past, when there was less competition for talent and before tech infrastructure could accommodate remote working, employers hired candidates who could come to them and who could work the traditional 9-5 workday.

Today, smart employers know that one key way to get the best talent in the door and to retain them is to make it possible for employees to work from wherever they are, and to work on schedules that fit their lifestyles rather than the other way around. But it’s also about making sure candidates and employees feel valued and that their job is interesting and purposeful.

The opportunity

The increasing complexity in the jobs market has created new opportunities for companies to stand-out when recruiting.

Hiring managers and recruiters who take a partnership approach that blends traditional recruitment with the latest tech will get ahead in the ‘war for talent’.

Striking that balance while being able to sell jobs and the merits of working with companies will continue to be important. But the key to gaining an advantage in the ‘war for talent’ is being able to offer an exciting, attractive and purpose-driven proposition to in-demand candidates.