Director - HR Morgan McKinley
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Recruitment update: uncertain times call for experienced HR professionals

The market for HR roles remains buoyant, as organisations seek experienced professionals to navigate the changes that Brexit brings. 

14th Nov 2019
Director - HR Morgan McKinley
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iStock/Cecilie_Arcurs

Economic and political instability may have shaken the recruitment market as a whole, but the HR sector seems to be weathering the storm.

On the whole, the HR recruitment market has fluctuated throughout 2019, with vacancies being consistently reviewed, changed and pulled. There is a general feeling that many organisations are unwilling to commit to hires during these unstable times (aside from replacing leavers or for business critical projects) as nobody truly knows what may be around the corner.

Looking ahead to 2020, the economic landscape is in a period of instability, primarily caused by Brexit. This uncertainty means that the majority of strong HR candidates are largely reluctant to look for new opportunities.

Whilst there has been a reduction of roles available in the year to date, when comparing 2019 to 2018, the second half of this year has seen a high level of activity.

In terms of regulatory changes having an impact on hiring, IR35 is the ongoing project on everyone’s mind. As of April 2020, this regulation will affect all limited company contractors in the private sector.

Hiring companies are looking at how this will affect their contractor base, putting in project teams to assess their current business operating model and looking to hire individuals who will set up internal recruitment and onboarding processes to safeguard against this change.

Shifting demands

A variety of roles have become available as businesses go through continuous change programmes. Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) and specific mergers and acquisitions (M&A) experience are particularly in demand, as well as a need to fill HR projects jobs and core HR business partners. Most of these vacancies are permanent positions, as hiring organisations look to secure the top talent to help in these times of uncertainty.

In this same regard, hiring processes have been quite lengthy as there are a number of strong candidates available and organisations have been willing to wait for the ‘perfect’ candidate. The biggest demand is for HR business partners with experience leading on HR projects, as well as recruitment consultants.

As organisations look to branch out to various locations, professionals with any global experience of working in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Asia Pacific (APAC), or Latin America are in a strong position to be top of the pile in the eyes of many hiring managers.

In terms of interviews, the traditional approaches are still the best – it’s important to build a rapport.

Flexible working and the opportunity to work remotely both continue to be promoted as a benefit for a range of roles - offering this is attractive to the large majority of HR professionals at all levels of seniority. The industry, as a whole, is still very focused on reducing the gender pay gap and driving diversity. We are seeing this in terms of a focus on equal hiring programmes and companies looking for their recruitment agencies to demonstrate open and fair processes.

Unsurprisingly, HR is one of the disciplines that focuses heavily on workplace wellness for its employees. The ability to work from home one day per week and flexibility surrounding condensed hours to accommodate for busy home lives are both highly popular for HR professionals.

Employers have to offer enough initiatives that give a healthy work/life balance if they want to attract the best candidates. Another benefit that has become commonplace recently is competitive bonus/retainer payments, as hiring organisations look to attract and retain top talent.

The road ahead

Looking ahead to 2020, the economic landscape is in a period of instability, primarily caused by Brexit. This uncertainty means that the majority of strong HR candidates are largely reluctant to look for new opportunities.

Those who are looking to branch out into a new role should bear in mind that to stand out, candidates need to demonstrate any experience they have with managing and supporting change. This could be through HR project management, managing TUPE or M&A. Showing that you have managed HR systems on your CV is also important - some of the most popular systems are: Workday, SAP, Oracle, Agresso, Northgate, SuccessFactors and CoreHR.

For HR professionals seeking a new role, it’s worth including any recommendations or testimonials that display your skills to support your applications.

In terms of interviews, the traditional approaches are still the best – it’s important to build a rapport. Make sure you understand the specific terminology for each organisation you are engaging with and relay this in the interview. A CIPD qualification will never hurt your application, and committing to other qualifications around psychometrics and/or anything around MI reporting is also useful.

At the time of writing this, a Brexit deal has yet to be confirmed but once resolved, organisations will finally be able to put the appropriate plans in place to accommodate for whatever life outside the European Union (or perhaps not) will be like.

It is likely there will be widespread changes required across different areas of the workforce as organisations will have to adjust accordingly and HR professionals will be an integral part of this.

Interested in this topic? Read Business after Brexit: the changing needs of UK employees.

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