With unemployment at an all-time low, what does this mean for Hertfordshire employers?

‘They’ told us that Brexit would lead to job market disruption but with unemployment at its lowest level since records began at the ONS (Office of National Statistics) 44  years ago (3), is this just another prediction that’s being proven to be far from accurate? And, with jobseekers in shorter supply than ever, what does this mean across the region for Hertfordshire employers (and their recruitment agencies of course)?

A look at the employment ‘lay of the land’

The 2018 Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership report says that we’ve a total of just under 700,000 jobs in our county. Of that total 57.3% are classified as highly skilled jobs (higher than the national average), 17.7% are in the wholesale and retail sectors and 14.5% are in administration and support services roles. We also love our part-time working in Hertfordshire as we’ve slightly higher than the national average at 35.2% of all employment. And with the average annual earnings of an employee in Hertfordshire being 8% higher than the national average, employers clearly need to pay fairly well in order to attract the right talent.

Attracting the right talent is the issue we’re here to discuss today, because while high wages and record low unemployment may be great news for the county and for employees, employers and recruitment agencies are likely to face increasing challenges in their campaigns.

It’s time to get innovative with your recruitment strategy

Low unemployment means employers have to try harder to convince a dwindling pool of prospective candidates to move to them. Greater competition in the market is established as employers fight (metaphorically) for the talent they need. In an environment such as this, a good recruitment agency will look to help their clients to recognise this reality and will get innovative in their advice and approach to helping them achieve their goals.

So, what needs to change?

Employers may need to be more flexible in their requirements, broadening specifications to net a wider group of people if specific job specs fail to attract the right candidates at first pass. As the candidate pool dries up it’s realistic to expect that recruitment agencies will need a little more time and some flexibility in the brief, as well as preferring earlier planning for more challenging roles.


As there are fewer candidates out there looking for a new challenge, some employers – and recruiters – might start to look for candidates who don’t yet know they want a new challenge. You’ll find your staff getting an increased number of ‘headhunting’ calls, asking them if they are happy where they are, whether they’d be interested in opportunities elsewhere, flattering them with lines that suggest they have been specifically targeted for a position, and so forth. So, while you might be in need of new staff you also need to be wary of the increased chances of losing the ones you’ve got to competitors.


I know I just equated headhunting with poaching, but if done the right way, headhunting can be a perfectly legitimate way of sourcing the right people. Essentially, the term ‘headhunting’ has broadened out with the advances in communication and technology to include all areas which involve market intelligence-led recruitment. This can involve recruitment agencies who have maintained relationships with employees throughout their careers being able to pinpoint appropriate candidates and pick up the phone to them, as well as digital research and LinkedIn-led candidate sourcing.


As the world’s largest business network, LinkedIn is an excellent resource for sourcing talent with specific skills, and with advances in searching features and facilities on the platform it has become easier to locate and contact the right people to find out whether they would be willing to meet to discuss new opportunities.


With unemployment at an all-time low, employees are back in the driving seat. You’d better make sure that you do your utmost to ensure workforce satisfaction because it is easier than ever for your staff to find a new opportunity elsewhere. Look into new ways to show your staff they are valued and to ensure that they feel committed to you in the long term.


When looking to attract the right talent, or to stem your attrition rate, training is an excellent offering. Candidates often look to contribute more than just fulfilling the role they take on and welcome opportunities for advancement – training answers both these needs. If you’re looking for engaged, motivated and innovative individuals, then the right kind of training is a great way of attracting them.


It’s not always possible to match the financial enticements of others, especially your London competition, but there are many ways in which an innovative recruitment company could help you make your staff package more attractive. We’ve mentioned training as this offers a career path and future-proofs their position. There are plenty of other non-financial elements that could be added to the package and, of course, there’s always more flexible working hours.

Luke Mason is co-founder of Ellis Mason recruitment agency, helping the small to medium sized business community across Hertfordshire to find the best people for exciting roles they can excel in. If you are looking for someone new for your office, contact us today on 01462 510 148.

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