Looking for a new job? Why experts say now is a good time to jump ship

Close Up Of Waitress Working In Traditional English Pub Serving Breakfast To Guests

Hospitality struggles to recruit staff - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Workers have gained the upper hand as workforce shortages continue to plague East Anglian companies as they recover from the coronavirus crisis. Derin Clark reports

More people across the East of England are looking to switch jobs, leading to growing concerns among employers about staff and skills shortages as well as more hiring from London.

Employees revaluating where and how they want to work plus the pandemic’s impact on businesses has led to employers having to change their job offerings and work harder to recruit staff.

“It has been quiet and slow in the last six months,” said Rebecca Headden, co-founder of Norwich-based recruitment agency R13, which specialises in recruiting for sales and office-based positions. “We were having less people apply for the jobs that were available. Instead, we were having to go out into the market to recruit and to approach potential candidates.  

Rebecca Headden. Picture: Blanc Photography 2013

Rebecca Headden co-founder of R13 - Credit: Blanc Photography 2013

“There has been a slight increase in people looking for a new job and we are seeing more people coming into the market.  

“I’m in contact with people who we initially contacted three or four months ago and who have come back to us now interested in what job opportunities are out there.”  

A reason Ms Headden believes contributed to people’s reluctance to move previously was Covid: “I think it was a case of concern about new variants coming out and how this would impact businesses.  

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Now people have more confidence.  

“Christmas has also helped. People were waiting to get to Christmas and the Christmas break, but are now looking for a new role. It is a case of the cliché - new year, new job.”  

For job seekers it is a vibrant market with many sectors calling out for new staff.  

Figures released by the Office of National Statistics last month show that the number of job vacancies in September to November 2021 rose to a record level of 1,219,000. This is more than double in the three months just before the pandemic hit, when there were 434,500 jobs available between January to March 2020.   

Employers changing how they recruit  

With job vacancies at record levels, but some candidates hesitant to leave secure jobs, employers and recruitment agencies are having to work harder to fill positions.  

Ms Headden said: “Employers are struggling to recruit. We are having to encourage people to apply for positions. We are using social media to promote jobs and for identifying and approaching candidates.  

“Candidates are not just looking for a better salary. They are looking at company culture, companies that offer flexibility and who understand their ambitions. Working from home is also a big deal for many people.  

“People want to feel like they are part of something. Employees have an opinion and want to feel like their opinions are being listened to.  

“But everyone is different. Some people want the social side and will choose companies that can offer this. Some people want training and career development.”  

One industry that has struggled the most with staff shortages is the hospitality sector.  

Tom Ginn

Tom Ginn founder of Bread Hospitality - Credit: Bread Hospitality

Tom Ginn, founder and managing director of Bread Hospitality, a Norwich-based recruitment agency specialising in hospitality, said: “During the lockdown people in hospitality were being forced into trying different industries and trying something else.  

“We have found that trust has come back into hospitality and those who left are coming back into the industry.  

“Trust has come back into hospitality. People have also missed it and are coming back. They have missed the unpredictability of it.

“The biggest struggle for many leaving the industry is working set days – Monday to Friday, nine to five. They have also missed the flexibility. Hospitality has a special buzz to it – it is like a drug.”  

Hospitality employers who have been successful in attracting new talent have done so by changing their job offering.  

“Last summer there was a mad panic,” said Mr Ginn. “There was panic and then they realised they had to change.  

“The ones that changed and adapted are the ones that survived.  

“They reduced hours, increased wages and improved working environments.”  

Looking for a lifestyle change  

To help fill vacancies Mr Ginn has had to look further afield for staff. He found a large number of people from outside of Norfolk and Suffolk are looking to relocate to the region for work.  

“One in four are moving to the county and the majority are from London,” he said. “They are relocating as they are looking for a lifestyle change.  

“Salaries in North Norfolk are about the same as London. But living costs makes a difference and they can earn more, when taking into account the cost of living, working in Norfolk than London.  

“During the pandemic people had time to reflect. They were sat at home thinking where do I want to be, what do I want to be doing, where do I want to be living?”

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