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What impact is reneging having on the recruitment industry?

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How can workforce intelligence help combat this big picture challenge?

Reneging on job offers is becoming an increasingly popular trend, particularly among graduates. The days of receiving a job offer and simply accepting it are long gone. In fact, a recent Association of Graduate Recruiters annual survey found that nearly one offer in 12 (8.2%)  was reneged on after being accepted, in 2015.

What is the cause?

A few years ago, turning down any job offer let alone reneging on one would have been unthinkable for most graduates, especially when post-graduate employment was harder to come by, and many graduates were unemployed, or in most cases under-employed. 

Since then there has been a generational shift. There are more Baby Boomers leaving the workforce than ever before, creating skills gaps, which organisations are struggling to fill with qualified and talented staff. This skills gap is allowing applicants, with the relevant degrees or qualifications, to hoard all the job offers, before selecting the best one. In essence it is a case of ‘supply and demand’ as this populous group in the workforce and are on track to surpass baby boomers, which is allowing ‘good candidates’ to delay and even receive counter-offers before accepting.

This in itself has caused a cultural shift, enabling Millennials to be more open minded when it comes to their careers. We already know that Millennials are happy to think with their feet, and prefer a healthy work/life balance over high salaries. Earlier generations were probably too afraid to ask for flexibility, as work came first. But many Millennials grew up in the recession and saw their parents suffer despite the long hours they worked, which has perhaps alternated their attitudes towards work, plus the addition of technology has meant it is much easier for them to work from anywhere.

Can technology help?

Innovation in communications and computing intelligence, behaviour and demographic changes as baby boomers retire; and millennials / emerging talent becoming the dominant workforce means the way we hire must change. A consequence of the behaviour and technological change is significantly higher volumes of applications.  Technology will undertake the heavy lifting in the new normal of talent acquisition and is the most powerful tool a recruiter can have. By setting up automated responses recruiters are able to keep the candidate warm, whilst they wait to start.

Today, individuals with the scarce skills companies need make new connections earlier and earlier. If HRDs fail to track and make their own connections with these good people, they’ll lose the first bite of the recruitment cherry. It’s our future leaders who will take decisions about how to adapt and change their businesses, so getting to the best people to make these important choices has to be the future focus of HR in order to avoid the risk of reneged offers.

In my opinion, any solution must involve technology. Today relationships are digital, and the best firms will create digital value propositions that talk not only to those they’re attracting to their talent pools, but to their existing staff too. HRDs must engage with talent at virtual events, and even encourage existing staff to be brand advocates within their own networks. Technology provides intelligence, and it’s vital technology helps HRDs understand what potential is. Do this, and when HRDs need to sift through the hundreds of CVs they’ll get per advertised role (more people will be chasing the same amount of jobs), they’ll at least know who they should devote the most time to during the selection process. Virtualisation technology – using video or psychometrics – can also help this, and should be some of the solutions adopted.

While the future is hard to predict, it’s fair to say that ultimately it will demand much more joined up people thinking. Firms that understand recruitment will know that their success depends on creating relationships. Even when dealing with people they fail to hire, the best firms will realise they need to create some level of engagement – such as by giving feedback for next time. Why? Because who knows, one day, the candidate they once turned down could be just what they’re looking for a few years down the line.

Speed, accuracy and relationships [all underpinned by technology] – they’re all needed now and they will all be needed even more in the future. If HRDs improve in all of these areas, perhaps dire predictions of skills shortages ahead of us will not come to fruition. But the only way HRDs can avert this is by starting to do things differently, starting now.

Good technology will enable you to deliver personalised, rewarding experiences and amplify your employer brand. This is complemented by digital intelligence to help drive continuous improvement based on strong performers. Done well, virtualisation will automate manual processes, cut administration time, simplify and extend reach.

Appearing on the right social media sites, building talent pools and using Big Data from robust management intelligence will also play pivotal roles in keeping the talent ‘attracted’ to your business. These tools not only help keep the candidate warm, but will help in finding the best fit for your organisation. Yet, they will require investment – such as having robust agile development processes; well-developed API’s; flexible data structures; highly configurable systems and security that is future-proofed.

What about the industry?

Many people ask how reneging is affecting the recruitment industry. The answer is simple. It is making people take stock of their recruitment practices and revisit how they work. There is no such thing as the perfect solution, so recruiters need to make sure they are constantly improving and evolving. Reneging is the trend of the moment and these are unchartered waters for some, and seem deep and scary, but if you implement the right tools and technologies you can make sure you limit the level of reneging your organisation experiences. 

Charles Hipps

By Charles Hipps

Charles is the CEO and founder of WCN

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