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How is the rise in the cost of living affecting recruitment?

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​The rise in the cost of living is taking its toll on everyone in the UK, with workers struggling to pay household bills and employers feeling the squeeze on office rent and manufacturing costs, but what affect is it having on job seekers and employers?

Jonathan Lee Recruitment’s Associate Director of Finance, Jamie Carter takes a look below.

What’s happening with the cost of living?

We are all feeling the pain of the cost of living in the UK being at a 30-year high, mainly due to the rising price of energy, fuel, and food. The inflation rate is currently at roughly 11% and continues to rise month on month. Compare this to 18 months ago when UK inflation was around 1% and was still as low as 5% in Jan 2022.

Despite these soaring inflation rates, most workers only received a pay rise of 1-5% in 2022, while some salaries stayed the same or declined. Many employers have opted to make token cost of living payments to help ease the burden but there is certainly reluctance to make wholesale comparative salary rises in case the predictions of a long and sustained recession are inaccurate and we see more of a V-shaped recession in 2023.

How is the cost of living affecting job seekers?

Research by mutual life, pensions and investment provider Royal London reveals the true cost of the rise in the cost of living on job seekers. It reveals that 5.2 million UK workers now have two jobs with a further 10 million workers considering taking on another job if costs continue to rise. Nearly two-thirds of those quizzed (64%) said they are ‘financially overwhelmed’ at the moment. The research also indicates that working more hours is not a realistic option for over a quarter (28%) of full-time employees who may already be working over 48 hours a week.

How is the rise in the cost of living impacting recruitment?

Recruitment of professional staff such as accountants is often a complex process, but never before have the job seeker and the employer been further apart in their salary expectations. We are still in a candidate-short market where many are unwilling to consider a change of job as they perceive it to be too risky given the poor economic outlook.

Workers have also recently been given more flexibility than they have ever had before, one of the positive knock-on effects of the COVID/lockdown period. We also find that even when a company does identify a suitable candidate, they now run the risk of the dreaded buy-back or counter offer scenario (which is another blog for another time).

I work with a lot of SMEs that operate with finance teams of between 2 to 10 staff, so are not regularly recruiting for the same position. More often than not there is a need for a re-evaluation of current salary levels as things have moved on so significantly since 2020/21 and continue to do so.

So the facts are that in the current finance recruitment market:

1. You’re competing for fewer applicants

2. You’re having to pay more than you expected

3. You’re having to offer more flexibility than ever if you want to compete and be an employer of choice

Recruitment recommendations during the cost of living crisis

​Jonathan Lee Recruitment is an established recruiter within the engineering, manufacturing and advanced technology sectors. We have over 4 decades of experience in dealing with times like this.

Where budgets are tight and you can’t raise salary ranges, there will always be compromises available to make a success of your recruitment process, but employers need to be more flexible and more commercially savvy than ever before. This makes it so important that you choose the right recruiter to advise you of your options and then to run an effective recruitment process.

Some things to consider:

  • Can you hire someone part-time to keep the same budget, meaning you can afford a fairly experienced person?

  • Could you hire someone with less experience but with a lot of potential?

  • Could you hire someone that is over-qualified but happy to work at the salary level on offer for personal reasons?

  • Could you hire someone on a fixed-term contract at a higher salary level and then look to hire someone permanently at a lower salary level when inflation levels subside?

  • What flexibility and perks can you offer to make your position stand out versus a competitor?

As well as this, it’s our strong belief that working in either a retained or exclusive fashion with an experienced high performing recruiter significantly improves your chances of identifying the right individuals. In tricky recruitment markets, employers often feel they need to use multiple recruitment firms as this will increase the likelihood of success, but in fact the opposite is true; using multiple firms more often dilutes the process and decreases the quality and the depth of the search. You also significantly reduce the chances of success for each of those recruiters, so your vacancy is then given a proportionate priority rating versus other positions, which are being recruited on a retained or exclusive basis.

Our retained recruitment offering

If you choose Jonathan Lee as your recruitment partner for retained assignments, we offer:

  • Proactive search of the passive recruitment market, in addition to the usual database and online advertising campaigns

  • Your vacancy is automatically prioritised over any other non-retained vacancies. This guarantees the quality of the work and produces a thorough recruitment process.

  • Bespoke rebate terms

  • Option of a free replacement

  • In person pre-screen interview

  • Full applicant report

  • Client branded advert (optional)

  • Client landing page on Jonathan Lee’s website (optional)

  • Applicants provided with a full client briefing information pack

  • Live search insights spreadsheet, with regular updates given to the hiring manager

  • Psychometric and/or leadership assessment (optional)

Interested in hearing more about our retained recruitment offerings or do you have a general recruitment need? Fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch to assist further

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