The shrinking pool of senior talent – what does it mean for recruiters?

Graham Oates, CEO at Norrie Johnston Recruitment (NJR), the executive search and interim management agency, explains why there is an increasingly short supply of senior talent and offers his advice on how recruiters can mitigate against this.

Quality senior talent is in increasingly short supply. In fact, recent research by City & Guilds found that as many as nine in 10 employers are currently struggling to find skilled workers, with Brexit set to exasperate the situation further. This means that companies must work harder than ever to attract the best and brightest senior candidates to their organisations.

With research suggesting that two-thirds of employers think the skills gaps in their businesses are likely to get worse or remain the same in the next three-to-five years, what can organisation do to counter this growing challenge?

Represent HR at board level

A shortage of skilled senior candidates means that talent acquisition and retention are more business-critical than ever before and must therefore be considered strategically as well as operationally. A good way to enforce this is by ensuring that your HR Director is a full board member. A good HR Director will have a grounding in operations and will be able to translate the ‘people needs’ of the organisation into a credible business language that will influence peers in the boardroom. 

Build your employer brand

Employer branding becomes critical whilst talent is in short supply. This isn’t just a question of having a great website and an effective careers page, it needs to be reflected right through the business. Companies need to be recognised as great places to work, places that consider all of the needs of their staff and provide the right conditions to ensure a ‘win win’ for employers and employees alike. This positive employer image also needs to be reflected throughout the recruitment process, from the very first stage of communications. Finding the best talent is a two-way selling process.

Offer a benefits package that caters for individual needs

A one-size-fits-all list of benefits and an attractive salary is no longer enough to attract and retain talent. Companies need to demonstrate that they truly value their employees and offer flexibility to meet individual life needs. There are many business-savvy ways to accommodate this individualism without the need for large financial investment, from flexible working arrangements, to creating an open and respectful working environment where employees are free to contribute their opinions and raise their concerns.

Invest in relationships with key external agencies

It is also important to reflect this strategic talent acquisition in your approach to interacting with external executive search firms. Find a committed and focused agency and form a strategic relationship with them. Share your future talent requirements with them to allow them time to build talent pools and identify potential candidates in advance.

Investing in a few key relationships with agencies that truly understand your company’s values, roles and specific needs will also help to ensure that you are hiring candidates who are a good cultural fit for your organisation, saving both time and money. In addition to this, a good recruitment firm will be able to proactively highlight rare key talent when it comes onto the market, allowing your business the opportunity to out-manoeuvre your competitors.

Nurture your existing talent

The work doesn’t end once you have hired talent. Look after your people from the very start, by providing a best-in-class induction and on-boarding process. Have great learning and development programmes and provide clear road maps so that senior executives understand how they can develop within your organisation. Once they are embedded in the company, focus on leadership development and succession planning to ensure your company is prepared for the departure of senior members of staff.

Recognise the value of every generation

Another factor contributing to the shrinking supply of senior candidates is the growing talent pool of older workers who are often overlooked due to traditional thinking. However, stereotypes of the past are beginning to be debunked as employers increasingly recognise that older executives continue to offer value well beyond traditional retirement age. Many of these may also value part-time or flexible working arrangements. In return, organisations benefit from a diverse range of opinions and approaches that can set them apart from their competitors.

It will be the companies who recognise the value of combining the strengths of all the generations in the workforce, and offer a truly flexible and inclusive workplace, who will stand out from the crowd and alleviate the impact of the shrinking pool on their organisation.

Norrie Johnston Recruitment is a senior executive search and interim management agency. To find out more visit:

Graham Oates

Graham Oates is CEO at Norrie Johnston Recruitment (NJR), the executive search and interim management agency.

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