When there is a talent shortage a candidate-driven market occurs, where employers must compete for employees or workers, who can then negotiate better pay and benefits. In a candidate driven market there are more jobs than workers which means that organisations are competing for top talent. Whereas an employer-led market gives your organisation the leverage when hiring top talent. It is debated if we are shifting to an employer-driven market, with a candidate-led market becoming a thing of the past, with Reed reporting a 17% drop in job posting in 2023 compared to 2022 but a 29% increase in applications.  

What does an employer-led market mean for your recruitment?  

Previously the biggest challenge for recruitment teams was attracting and keeping hold of candidates while competition was high, with frustrations of prospective candidates ‘ghosting’ interviews and poor retention rates. If the market is now employer-led these challenges should no longer exist and recruiters are more likely to be faced with too many candidates which could make interviewing more time consuming and resource-draining.  

For companies that are hiring a larger talent pool  the employer-led market is good news, allowing negotiation of salaries, hours, and flexible working to be in your hands. However, your new challenge is attracting the right talent to these roles. Over the last few years candidates have developed higher expectations of employers, with many candidates dropping out of the recruitment process if you are not up front about key factors of the role and company.  

This shift could also see change in the way jobs are advertised with an expectation that they become more role-specific and focus on the employers’ requirements rather than appealing to talent. Alongside this the candidate selection process may emphasis finding individuals who have the right skills and fit for the company’s culture.  

Attracting Talent 

Who you are: Applicants are often unwilling to apply for jobs that don’t make it clear who is advertising the role and show distrust towards recruitment agencies. Making sure your job postings show who you are clearly is key. 

Job Advertisements: while the way you advertise your job roles may become more specific with a focus on the needs and requirements of tour organisation. You will have more leverage in defining roles which should lead to a more accurate and targeted description and expectations. 

Salary Transparency: While you many feel inclined not to reveal the salary in the job advert potential applicants will often view this as a sign that the pay is low. Even with the abundance of applicants, if you are not up-front you risk losing the top talent for your position.  

Career Pages: Having the right type of employer branding and easy access to your careers page can allow candidates to get to know more about your company. 

Candidate Selection: The focus on identifying the most qualified individual who not just meet the technical requirements but also fit with the company culture and values. This should allow for you to find the best fit for the role instead of filling positions quickly.  

Employer Branding: In an employer driven market, organisation’s should still be positioning themselves and their unique offering to attract the talent that is right for them. Companies must articulate why the top talent should choose them over competitors. This means showcasing the company culture, career advancement opportunities, and the impact of the work.  

Read our tips on employer branding here 

 The employer-led market seems to be the trend in recruitment in 2024 due to a shift in economic conditions, technological advancements and other factors that have led to a increase supply of labour. Consequently, the increase supply of candidates has led to more competition for roles and diminished bargaining power.  


A candidate-led market is still alive 

Some recruiters argue that the market is still candidate led according to 65% of agency recruiters (Top Echelon’s). The survey asked 20,000 recruiters on their views of the current market and the findings reveal that candidates are still turning down and ghosting at roughly the same rate as last year according to almost half of those asked.  

While employers may have gained some leverage in the past year, employee expectations have evolved. From the importance of work-life balance, flexibility, inclusivity, and a focus on well-being many candidates have reassessed and created new priorities when searching for a role. Employers who have failed to adapt to these expectations will still find themselves at a disadvantage.  

What is a candidate-led market? 

Talent shortages can create a candidate-led market where employers must compete for employees or workers who can negotiate better pay and benefits. In a candidate-led market there are more jobs than workers meaning the organisations must compete to secure the top talent.  

Many employers don’t recognise what a candidate-led market truly is until they are faced with recruiting, and candidates are able to demand the best salary due to competing job offers. When unemployment is at a low it can be more difficult to attract top talent. 

 Attracting Talent 

The importance of culture: Your company culture and brand is an important tool in attracting top talent as salary is not the only factor that candidates will consider. It’s vital that the employee feels like they can see a future in a successful business. The interview is an important influencing factor for a candidate deciding if they want to join a company so itsit’s important that the company culture is explained to the candidate and that the interviewer sell their organisation.  

Make your company visible: Don’t just share your job posting and positive business updates internally make sure that you are also considering why a candidate would want to join your business and the information they would be looking for on your company website and social media. 

Read our latest blog about how to use social media in your recruitment strategy. 

Easy and Efficient Recruitment Process: When there is a candidate shortage organisations need to make sure they are moving quickly to ensure a successful recruitment and hiring process. Make sure to review your interview processes, ensure you know how many stages are involved and the timescales for each stage. This helps to manage the candidates expectations while moving through the process.  

 So, is the candidate led market dead in 2024? There are arguments for both sides. While there are clear signs of a shift in the balance of power it is not a uniformed trend. From economic pressures, technological advancements, and evolving employee expectations there is the creation of a complex and dynamic job market. For employers it important to understand and meet these changing expectations in the workforce to continue to attract and secure talent.  


About the author

Alisha Cadogan