For the first time since records began, there are more job vacancies than unemployed people in the UK. With resignations at an all time high and unemployment at only 3.7% (its lowest rate in 50 years), it’s fair to say that the market is currently driven by candidates, not employers.  

So, with this post-pandemic talent shortage in full swing, how can organisations continue to recruit the best candidates? Read on to find out our 6 essential tips for hiring in a candidate-driven world, and why candidate experience is more important than ever before. 

Why are candidates driving the market?

To understand why candidates now have the upper hand in recruitment, it’s important to understand the talent shortage the UK is experiencing across many sectors and industries. 

In the early pandemic lockdowns, unemployment was higher than the amount of job vacancies, with four unemployed people for every job vacancy. Now, vacancies are outpacing the supply of workers. This is because demand for staff is high while the labour force has shrunk: there are 1.1 million fewer people in the workforce than pre-pandemic levels. Many people have left the UK while fewer are coming in, workers in the 50+ age category have left the workforce in droves, and young people are spending longer in education instead of work. 

So, considering the current situation, how can recruitment and HR teams secure the best talent for the role? Here are our tips. 

Act fast

A speedy time-to-hire has always been a goal of HR and Recruitment professionals, but in the current market it’s more important than ever. A long, drawn out recruitment process is costly for the organisation and makes it more likely that top talent will accept an alternate job offer. 

An analysis by LinkedIn of 400,000 confirmed hires found that the entire hiring process tends to take a median of at least a month, with the longest time-to-hire being a median of 49 days for engineering roles and the shortest being customer service and administrative roles which take a median of 34 and 33 days respectively. 

How do you ensure you’re hiring as quickly as possible while still finding enough time to consider a range of candidates and find the top talent? The key is to cut down on admin time and boost efficiency throughout the hiring process.

One of the first things that recruiters can do to increase hiring efficiency is use an Applicant Tracking System to eliminate all unsuitable candidates immediately and send them personalised, company branded rejections, ensuring a positive candidate experience despite their unsuccessful application.

Hireserve ATS makes use of sophisticated candidate screening with ‘Killer Questions’ that can exclude unsuitable applications instantaneously. Does the candidate have the right to work in the UK? Proficiency in a specific language? A particular level of education? If it’s a no to any of these, the ATS can automatically filter them out. 

Sifting through applications is one of the most time-consuming aspects for recruiters and hiring managers, so making use of recruitment technology to streamline this process is a must. 

Communicate with candidates

In this candidate shortage, it’s fair to assume that most of your applicants have other options – be it their current job or other organisations that have made them an offer. If a successful candidate is choosing between your offer and one from another organisation, their candidate experience is likely to be just as important as salary, benefits, flexibility, and location in the decision. 

Even before the pandemic and the current talent shortage, the most strategic HR departments and talent management professionals knew the value of providing a great candidate experience, and now it’s more important than ever. With 62% of US job seekers saying that they lose interest in a role if they don’t hear back from the employer in 10 business days or two weeks, it’s clear that communication can really make a difference when recruiting in a candidate-driven market. 

Communicating and checking in with candidates throughout the journey is essential, from personalised email and SMS communications when they first submit their application and updates about their application status, to interview reminders and follow-ups, and finally letting them know the outcome of their application. At all these stages in the hiring journey, an ATS can ensure that these communications are personalised, improving the candidate experience. 

Always send a rejection letter

It’s vital to continue communication throughout the entire selection process, even when a candidate is unsuccessful. 75% of job seekers around the world have been ‘ghosted’ by an organisation after an interview – receiving no further contact. Damaging the relationship between candidate and potential employer, ceasing contact without ever sending a rejection makes it unlikely that a candidate will apply to your organisation in future and can be detrimental to your employer brand. 

Sure, nobody enjoys sending out rejections, but there’s simply no reason not to send them. A good Applicant Tracking System can send branded and personalised rejection emails to all unsuccessful candidates at the click of a button, meaning that there’s no longer any excuse for ‘ghosting’ jobseekers. 

Nurture your talent pool

If you’ve interviewed some promising candidates who weren’t suitable for the current job but could be great for one of those future hard-to-fill roles, it’s important to create a talent pool. A proactive solution to talent acquisition, talent pooling takes some effort but it can be effective in the long term. It involves keeping a network of promising potential employees engaged and aware of your organisation so they’re ready for future recruitment. 

How exactly do you keep a talent pool? Using a Candidate Portal allows potential job seekers to make an account and receive personalised updates about job opportunities from the employer. The members of this pool may include former employees, unsuccessful applicants for other jobs, graduates from university careers fairs, and other individuals that may have become interested in your organisation. With the right ATS software, you can segment these potential job applicants by skills, location, experience, and more to contact them to share opportunities with job descriptions that are relevant to them. 

Be flexible with interviews 

With unemployment at extremely low levels, it’s likely that your candidates are currently working other jobs and may need to do interviews at specific times or outside of work hours. This means that it’s more important than ever to be flexible with interviews. 

Instead of telling candidates a time and place, consider using a self-service interview scheduler, allowing them to book a slot that works for them. The benefits are twofold: less hassle for recruiters emailing back and forth to find an appropriate time and a smoother candidate experience for the applicants, making them feel more valued and empowered than if the recruiter set a time without their input. 

Another thing to consider is how many interviews you really need before making a hiring decision. While in the past multi-round interviews may have been the norm in many industries and sectors, an endless circuit of interviews with various team members is causing candidate fatigue. In one survey, 26% of respondents said that they would leave negative online reviews about an organisation if they felt ‘strung along’ with continued interviews without a hiring decision. It’s clear, then, that too many interviews not only risks your applicants losing interest, but potentially will put future job seekers off applying, too. 

Ask for feedback on candidate experience

Gathering feedback from the successful and unsuccessful applicants is essential to improving candidate experience in the future. Pay special attention to interview no-shows and people who drop out of the application process. Did they get offered a job elsewhere? Were they not engaged by the hiring process? Were they expected to do too many interviews?

It’s essential to find out what is putting candidates off the hiring process so you can improve candidate experience in the future. 


With the UK’s talent shortage extending to almost every sector and industry, there has never been a better time to review your hiring strategy. The market has turned in the favour of candidates rather than employers, meaning that recruiters need to work harder than ever to attract the best candidates and encourage them to accept job offers.

For a streamlined and top quality candidate experience, an innovative Applicant Tracking System like Hireserve ATS is essential. From automating application screening and sending professional personalised communications to carrying out pre-employment checks and keeping all stakeholders up-to-date with the recruitment process, an ATS makes it easy to secure top talent while providing an exceptional candidate experience. 

Are you ready to upgrade your recruitment? Book a demo to see what Hireserve ATS can do for your organisation

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.