Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

8 Ways To Recruit Outstanding Staff, Despite The UK Skills Shortage

By Charles Trivett | May 5, 2015 | Attracting Staff

As the economy really starts to look up, there’s good news and bad news for companies in the UK.

The good news is that opportunities for business growth will steadily increase.

The bad news is that the (much anticipated) skills shortage, is now a very real and present danger.

Skilled engineers, tradesmen and women will benefit enormously from the sudden demand in their sectors, exemplified by stats revealing that qualified plumbers could expect a healthy £100,000 salary and skilled bricklayers could pick up as much as £1,000 a week!

So what can you do to prepare for the competitive onslaught of the skills shortage?

This week I’ve put together an eight-step action plan, to give you an edge over the competition.

1. Work On Your Talent Pipeline.

If you’re going to come out on top during the skills shortage, then you need to be armed with a superior talent pipeline; a pool of skilled potential candidates for any future jobs that may arise in your company.

Reach out to this skilled group of prospects, offer them value and when the time comes to take on new staff (or if they decide they’d like a new career) they’re much more likely to remember and consider your business.

Passive recruitment (approaching candidates who are not actively seeking a new job) is a really important but extremely challenging strategy for growing businesses.

Firstly, its impossible to know who would potentially be open to a job move which means that you’ll have to contact a lot of people, and secondly given that you’ve approached them (and not the other way around), savvy candidates will recognise their value and command a higher salary.

The entire process can be made an awful lot easier if you already have a pool of skilled talent that you’ve nurtured a relationship with.

Recruiter Top Tip:

LinkedIn Recruiter is a seriously good channel, helping you to build and maintain your talent pool and is one of many tools often used by recruitment consultants to source candidates.

Be warned though – whilst LinkedIn is a huge database of potentially passive job seekers, you may have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince!  It’s also pretty expensive to buy into and with a minimum commitment period of 12 months, it might be too big a stretch for your Financial Director to swallow.

It’s also really important to personalise any communication you have with individuals in your talent pool, as much as humanly possible.  You want them to feel special and loved!

2. Pay More.

It still astounds me that so many recruiters ignore one of the fundamental truths of business:

You’re going to have to pay more to get better staff.

Whilst some salaries may currently be down in the UK, candidates with unique or rare skills will command a higher rate of pay.

What’s more, if you consider that the average cost of replacing a new staff member is £30,614, there’s simply no point skimping on a less skilled, inappropriate employee that will inevitably not work out.

To attract the best people to your business, you need to offer them the best package.  Simple.  Anything else is a false economy.

Recruiter Top Tip:

If you’d like an idea of what the going salary for a particular job is, do a quick search on Indeed or one of the big job boards such as Jobsite or Total Jobs.

Search for the role you’re looking to recruit, and look at a few surrounding locations within a commutable distance of your premises.

This will give you an idea of where you should be pitching the salary and package for your role to make it look as attractive as possible.

Of course, money isn’t everything to everyone, so it’s also important to work on your benefits and perks package too; a great way to attract great candidates, without breaking the bank.

3. Polish Your Employer Brand.

You can invest all the time and money in the world to find fantastic potential recruits, but will they want to work for you?

Engaging your current employees with a range of perks, benefits and training opportunities will position your business as an employer of choice.  Word will get around and people will want to work with you.

Remember, company review sites like Glassdoor, are slowly becoming more and more popular as a research tool for potential job candidates, so keeping your current staff happy and building a positive company profile that shows you value and reward your staff, will help to attract the best talent too.

Of course, it’s not just about the perks either.  I’ve come across businesses who offer all of the benefits under the sun, but still treat their employees badly with long working hours, angry tirades and no personal development…

Check out our candidate blog post to find out how the top 20 companies to work for in 2015 gained their titles!

4. Grow Your Own Talent.

You don’t always have to bring in new, skilled staff.  Instead, you could focus on nurturing your current employees with training and possibly even offering subsidised higher education opportunities.

The obvious advantage is that you’ll already know the staff member, their work ethic, commitment and skills, but offering progression will also work wonders for your employer brand.

Employees want to know they’ve got somewhere to go.

Apprenticeships are also making a comeback so if you’re looking for loyal and competent candidates that can be nurtured for specific positions, then sponsoring a student’s higher education and enrolling them on a fast-track training programme could be the answer.

For more tips on how you could make that work for you, read one of our previous blogs 10 ways to incentivise staff, which emphasises the importance of identifying potential talent already within the business (it costs less to promote within!)

5. Mobilise Your Own Network.

Employee referrals have long been one of the best ways to hire new staff.

It’s been a really effective (and cost effective) channel for us here at Coburg Banks for years, and I can’t recommend more strongly that you should set up an internal referral scheme today if you haven’t already.

It stands to reason that Engineers are likely to know other Engineers, Support Workers are likely to know other Support Workers (and so on).  If you offer your current employees a reward in exchange for a successful hire (which doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary), you’ll benefit from:

  • Time saved:  Your employees will do most of the legwork for you.
  • Great candidates:  Very few employees will put their neck on the line if they don’t think a candidate is suitable.
  • Employee engagement:  Giving employees a chance to get involved in some of the decision-making will increase their loyalty and subsequently staff retention.

Recruiter Pro Tip:

You must, must, must have an internal employee referral scheme in place.  It could save you thousands of pounds on recruitment costs if you do.

Make sure it’s well communicated and documented, and even pin the scheme on the office notice board if that helps.  Choose an incentive that will genuinely motivate someone to want to recommend a friend or former colleague.

When you interview any referrals, it’s important not to be biased and to thoroughly vet the candidate.  But if you trust the recommending employee, chances are you’ll be on to a winner.

6. Go Global.

It’s less hassle to hire UK-based workers, that’s a fact.  But if they’re simply not out there, then it may be worth taking your search overseas.

Of course, you’ll still face stiff competition as the current skills shortage is a global issue, but economically, the UK is at an advantage.

India, for instance, has an excellent reputation for its IT infrastructure and many workers could be tempted by higher wages and a relocation package that brings them to the UK.

Stagnant economies in Greece, Spain and Italy, have also lead to a vast numbers of skilled workers claiming unemployment who might welcome the change of scenery.

Finding these potential recruits and assisting their relocation takes time, effort and investment, but if the alternative is simply not filling the role, you’ll have to weigh up how urgent your demand is.

7. Outsource Some Of The Work.

The average worker spends two and a half hours everyday just answering emails.

Now, assuming that such communications are not the basis of their job description, that’s an awful lot of time which could be spent on more important tasks.

It’s really important to take a regular look at your processes and attempt to streamline them, outsourcing anything and everything your can, to free up time for skilled workers.

If you keep them focused on the really crucial elements of the business, you may not have to hire expensive staff after all.

There are a wide variety of telephone answering services and outsourced admin companies that could give you a hand.  Take advantage of them!

8. Get Help!

Recruitment consultants really earn their money when a skills shortage starts to bite.

It’s our job to scour all possible resources and talent pools (including our own) to identify the very best and brightest!

If you do find yourself struggling and you can’t find the answers on our blog, you know where we are.


The eight strategies I’ve discussed above are all fairly standard recruitment principles and most should be considered, before a skills shortage actually arrives.


  • Get that talent pipeline into shape.
  • Don’t skimp on salary.
  • Enhance your employer brand.
  • Utilise the skills within your team.
  • Recruitment referrals are a great first step.
  • If you’re really struggling, look beyond the UK.
  • Outsource less important, time-consuming tasks.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Even if you’re not currently hiring, it’s worth getting all of this in order for future recruitment drives.

Don’t leave it too late!

- Charles Trivett
Charles - blog author

Charles Trivett

Charles heads up Coburg Banks’ IT Division, and has worked in recruitment for nearly 20 years.  His knowledge of how to optimise and get the most from a recruitment campaign is second to none, and he now works with a select handful of clients in maximising their recruitment ROI.

> More blog posts by Charles Trivett

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