This year, employers looking to attract talent will have to put up or shut up. They will need to invest seriously into employees’ personal development or miss out on talent. Joost Fortuin, Managing Director of PageGroup Netherlands, sees several important reasons.

“I’m still seeing companies that are unaware of the job market’s 180 degree change,” says Joost Fortuin. “Unemployment among those with higher professional education is at a historic low, and will undoubtedly drop even lower this year. Graduates can have their pick of jobs. As a result, employers will have to make much more of an effort to bring in the best people.”

New Year’s resolution: seducing candidates

According to Joost Fortuin, in the past year the balance of power has shifted from employers to employees. And yet he still sees many companies resting on their laurels. “That mentality is a remnant of the crisis years, when there were plenty of candidates to choose from. But those days are truly over now. Employers who did not adjust their recruitment policy last year, will have to include this item in their New Year’s resolutions for 2018.

Flexibility trumps salary

To attract talent, companies will have to sell themselves to candidates more convincingly, says Joost Fortuin. According to the Job Applicant Confidence Index (JACI), which measures job market sentiment every quarter, many employers are not managing to do this yet.

For example, the latest results show that candidates feel companies are not investing enough in their personal and professional development. Only 39 percent is happy about his or her work/life balance, a 3-percent drop compared to the previous year. Satisfaction about skills development has fallen by 8 percent, to 58 percent.

These figures do not surprise Joost Fortuin. “If a candidate can compare various employer offers, he or she will become more demanding. A good salary is no longer enough: flexibility and good opportunities for development are much more important.”

More permanent contracts

The battle for talent will also lead to an increase in the number of permanent contracts, Joost Fortuin predicts. “One way for an employer to set themselves apart is by promising a permanent contract straight away. Moreover, with the market recovery, the need for a flexible layer is decreasing. Companies will be less reluctant to hire people this year.”

More demand for interim managers

At the same time, PageGroup’s Managing Director expects the demand for interim managers to increase again this year. “We have seen that many of our clients are immensely relieved that the DBA Act - the new law for independent contractors - has been put on ice by the government for now. And it is unlikely to return in its current form. This created more confidence among companies. We already saw an increase in the demand for interim managers late last year, and this trend is set to continue this year. I am glad that the government realised that this legislation was defeating its purpose: since employers were unsure of their status, they were reluctant to hire interim professionals. This led to missed assignments for many freelance professionals. We always warned that this would happen.”

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