European organisations are going to find recruiting the right staff an even bigger challenge in 2007 with the situation being made worse by a major gulf between the expectations of employers and those of job seekers.
A survey of 1,000 job seekers and over 700 employers by recruitment company Angela Mortimer plc found that almost eight out of 10 companies struggled to attract the staff they wanted in 2006 with many experiencing a longer and more expensive recruitment process compared to 2005.
The situation is even more pronounced in Europe, with almost every company questioned in Brussels (97 per cent) and nearly nine out of 10 of those in Paris (86%) complaining that the recruitment market was challenging in 2006.
Highlighting of the difficulties facing employers last year, almost a third found an increasing number of applicants withdrawing from the recruitment process and a quarter experienced an increase in the number of job offers declined by candidates.
Four out of 10 employers also found that more candidates increased their financial demands at offer stage, with half admitting that they were forced to pay higher salaries than their original budget to secure the right candidates..
As a result, the research suggested that the cost per hire has risen by some 40% between 2005 and 2006 alone.
"Employers found the recruitment process more difficult and expensive in 2006. Now, with a greater number of jobs available, competition to recruit the best candidates is tough," says Ashley Williams from Angela Mortimer.
But if things were bad for employers last year, their problems are only going to intensify during 2007.
Not only are all the signs that both existing and prospective employees are growing increasingly bullish about their value, but the survey also unveiled major disparities between what businesses offer and what job seekers want in many areas, including training and development, financial rewards and holiday allowance.
For example, while six out of 10 employers claim that their position as a market leader would be a major attraction for prospective employees, most candidates disagreed, with just three out of 10 saying this would significantly influence their decision.
Employee training and development is another area of contention. Although seven out of 10 candidates ranked career progression in their top three reasons for moving job, only four out of 10 companies think that the career progression potential they offer is a top selling point.
Discrepancies also arose around bonuses, with four out of 10 candidates placing bonuses amongst the top three benefits sought, but only 13% of employers offering a guaranteed bonus scheme.
Finally, although eight out of 10 jobseekers receive less than 25 days holiday, two-thirds hope for at least 25 days in their next role, suggesting that inadequate holiday allowance is a further factor in job churn.
"Whilst additional benefits such as healthcare, share options and season ticket loans are good incentives, they are unlikely to attract new recruits if working environment, career progression and financial incentives are ignored," Ashley Williams added.
"Where candidates are not receiving the benefits that they value they are likely to move and we anticipate extensive movement in the market in the first quarter of 2007. In fact, employers expect demand to be somewhere between three and four times the 2006 level.
"Employers are finding recruitment of skilled candidates more difficult resulting in having to pay over budget to secure the right people," he concluded.
"Employers need to review their existing processes and ensure they are offering what candidates are looking for."