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By Tony Brookes, Sales Director, Vacancy Filler Recruitment Software


According to a  recent report1 from PwC,  the anxiety of  CEOs in the financial services sector regarding the availability of key skills continues to rise.  76 per cent of FS CEOs worry about shortages of digital skills within their workforce, while 91 per cent of FS CEOs believe they need to strengthen soft skills such as the creativity and emotional intelligence needed to innovate and connect with customers,  according to the report.


Expansion into emerging markets, changes in finance products and regulations, the increasing use of technologies such as AI and predictive analytics, and Brexit means that finding talented people who can add value from day one is becoming more and more difficult.  There has been a sharp decline in interest from EU graduates looking for UK  jobs since the Brexit referendum; a recent LinkedIn survey2 states that as Brexit impacts upon the financial services industry, UK educated workers are taking a larger share of new financial services hires and the industry is becoming less international as a result.


What is required is a clear strategy for the whole recruitment and retention process, from planning the search and the brief, to looking at different ways of not only attracting talent but also keeping it through the crucial first few months.


Planning the search

Organisations in this dynamic sector understandably want to hire staff  who can hit the ground running.  However, for roles where soft skills –  in short supply in this sector –  are required, organisations should consider how flexible they will be in hiring staff with transferable skills from other sectors, and there are indications that they are starting to do this.    At the same time, they need to examine closely what they are offering these hard-to-find recruits.   Initial impressions are important – a good company brand, an easy-to-navigate and nicely presented, informative careers page with real visual appeal and which offer a good candidate experience during the recruitment process are vital if candidates are not to be tempted by competitors.   Recent research we undertook shows that websites of even many top FTSE250 companies lack a specific graduate or careers page.


In addition to  the usual company benefits, companies should look at the so-called ‘soft’ benefits that might sway candidates in their favour.  Millennials in particular are more likely to be attracted by, for example, flexible and remote working, diversity, opportunities for learning and development and to contribute to wider society through their organisation, together with a supportive environment that promotes health and wellness.


The recruitment cycle

A slow, unresponsive  recruitment process may lose the best candidates to companies with a more strategic approach designed to keep in touch with potential recruits at every step, and offer them flexible options such as the opportunity to conduct initial interviews by video from their homes.   And, once hired, a surprising number of applicants either disappear before turning up for work on the first day, – so-called ‘ghost employees’ – or leave shortly after they have started, sometimes due to the information void that can occur between offer and acceptance of a job and a lack of a good onboarding process where the candidate is encouraged to feel they have made the right decision.


A bad candidate recruitment experience can not only damage a company’s relationship with a promising candidate but even an entire brand – candidates often do share their impressions online.   The recruitment experience starts from the first view of the website and the careers page right the way through the entire recruitment process.


New ways of recruiting

These recruitment challenges are driving companies to use a wider range of recruitment options.  Building a good brand and reputation and effective use of social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and increasingly other tools such as Instagram and Snapchat as well as, where appropriate, the more traditional route of press advertising and recruitment agencies often produces the best results.


In addition, companies are increasingly harnessing the power of online recruitment systems.    These best of these platforms support the entire recruitment journey, including an applicant tracking system (ATS) to promote the role(s) on offer, posting simultaneously to multiple job boards including specialist boards.  They ensure that there is a focus during the candidate recruitment journey on regular and frequent engagement with the potential employee so that throughout the various stages the candidate feels involved,  up to and beyond onboarding.  Such systems automate a great deal of routine work, including personalised acknowledgement of communications from a candidate and providing them with updates.


A business case for an integrated end-to-end recruitment process using an online recruitment system – which can be used by start-ups as well as large organisations – includes internal and external recruitment process efficiencies, reduction on dependency on agencies and expensive job advertising, improvement in the quality of candidates as the net can be cast more widely and the process is more efficient which means fewer good ones drop out, and better management information and compliance reporting.  Hiring managers can quickly check where each candidate is at each stage of the process and can search on key words in online CVs and application forms for key skills, while the system performs background and criminal records checking if required, collects the required information about new hires and provides them with information they will need for the pre-onboarding and onboarding  processes .


Retail Merchant Services

Retail Merchant Services, the largest independent card processing provider in the UK, is an example of a company that has found an online recruitment system very helpful in speeding up recruitment.  As the company has grown, recruitment needs have increased substantially and the manual process they were using was becoming too time-consuming, particularly with a team of recruiters managing multiple vacancies.  The seamless integration of the system with the company’s careers page and branding, together with the improved speed and efficiency of hiring for both the company and candidates have proved of great benefit to the company.


The need for a good recruitment and talent management strategy in the financial services sector, taking advantage of the latest technology developments to recruit, has never been more vital and will remain key to the success of this industry through the dramatic changes it is now undergoing.


1 https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/ceo-survey/2018/deep-dives/ceo-survey-financial-services-talent-report-web.pdf

2 https://economicgraph.linkedin.com/resources/linkedin-workforce-report-uk-september-2018



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