The current FM job market – the recruitment consultants

If your new year’s resolution is to make that next great career move, or if you’re planning to hire new talent into your team, then this newsletter is for you. Here, five top FM recruitment consultants give us their views on the current FM job market.

We asked five key questions:

1) How do you see the FM recruitment market at the moment?
2) What new roles do you see being created in the FM industry?
3) Where do you find most of your candidates?
4) What top piece of advice would you give to someone thinking about changing roles?
5) Why is it still beneficial to use recruitment agencies to find the top candidates?

How do you see the FM recruitment market at the moment?

Alex Sutherland, FM Property Recruitment Network: “There are still a lot of nerves out there. Companies are still nervous about taking too many people on and candidates are still worried about jumping ship. On the whole the activity has picked up and there is a lot more recruitment going on. 2011 will continue to push on and regardless of the expected ‘double dip.’ I can see the FM recruitment market being very buoyant in the coming year.”

Ashleigh Brown, Dovetail FM Recruitment: “FM Recruitment was really tough in 2010, but I am definitely seeing a slight recovery and hope that this continues through 2011 and gets stronger and stronger. It is tough for a lot of people at the moment with so many candidates looking for a new role and jobs are often attracting over 100 applicants. Many candidates are failing to impress with badly written CV’s and a lack of attention to the role they are applying for. Companies are being more specific on the types of people they want to employ and the selection process is favouring candidates with a positive and flexible attitude who are commercially aware as well as operationally strong.”

Simon Aspinall, Catch 22: “It’s probably fair to say that the market is challenging at the moment. The good news is that we are certainly noticing an increase in business levels on the permanent side v 09/10 – we anticipate this marks the bottom of the cycle and the waves of activity we are experiencing will soon lead to more steady growth.”

Nikki Dallas, Talent FM: “We are definitely seeing very strong signs of recovery, there is a lot of confidence in the market at the moment and we have received some exciting instructions for this year. There is still some way to go before we can claim the recovery is complete, however we feel that the outlook for 2011 is very positive indeed.”

Alison Halfpenny, Humanics: “The market is interesting at the moment and has changed considerably since I started recruiting some 14 years ago. There are a high number of candidates on the market, many at a senior level, but not, it would appear enough visible opportunities to apply for. Clients are approaching recruitment differently, many of them doing as much of it themselves, moving away from retained assignments and asking a number of agencies / consultancies to all look for the same type of person for them. There is a lot of networking and word of mouth referrals happening. In summary it is hard work, more competitive and challenging.”

What new roles do you see being created in the FM industry?

Ashleigh Brown: “I see more business development roles within FM coming up, as companies rally to solidify their place in a slowly recovering market.”

Simon Aspinall: “We are seeing more environmental, energy and compliance roles.”

Nikki Dallas: “A lot more customer service skills requirements within a wide variety of traditional FM roles. Clients are willing to consider candidates from hospitality, airline and other related industries in their search for the best talent to ensure exemplary FM delivery.”

Alison Halfpenny: “Most recently I had a request for an individual with very strong networking / door opening skills who could just simply create the opportunity for further business discussion. Otherwise the need for business orientated individuals continues.”

Alex Sutherland: “At the moment 75% of our entire business is focused around business development professionals. Pretty much all of our major clients are recruiting very heavily at the front end of their businesses. Business Development Managers, Estimators, Bid Managers – there is a real need for them at present. This is a very positive sign as it shows the companies are looking to push on and win new work. This has now been going on for a number of months and as a result the boom of operational vacancies should follow in the coming months.

Where do you find most of your candidates?

Simon Aspinall: “The two main sources of the best candidates are through word of mouth recommendation and via our own network of contacts. Increasingly, the recruitment industry is using online professional and social media but it is still vital to have a good relationship between consultant and candidate and that can only be achieved by really getting to know your candidates.”

Nikki Dallas: “Through recommendations and our extensive network, gleaned from 13 years in the industry. For our international roles we have an additional research resource. Social media is becoming increasingly relevant for sourcing quality candidates.”

Alison Halfpenny: The majority of candidates come via networking and seeking referrals from known contacts. In some instances we have used the internet to advertise roles and on occasion we have made use of our research facility.

Alex Sutherland: “The majority of our candidates come through networking and referrals. Sites like LinkedIn have proved invaluable in the past couple of years. If we don’t find candidates directly on there we are generally given names by the people we do find. We still place adverts, and get a phenomenal response, the problem we have is that 90% of the applicants are unsuitable for the role. The other way we find our candidates is by directly head-hunting them, LinkedIn also plays a large part in this process.”

Ashleigh Brown: “Most of the candidates I am finding are coming from networking through the BIFM and IFMA and my own database collected over the last 11 years working within the industry.”

What top piece of advice would you give to someone thinking about changing roles?

Nikki Dallas: “Make sure that your CV is the very best that it can be and that it sells you into the role that you are applying for. In a candidate competitive market your CV should be your ‘sales brochure’ and too many well qualified candidates don’t do themselves justice in this department. You must communicate your achievements, your industry relevance and your suitability for the role. Your recruitment consultant should be able to guide you in this respect but there is also a wealth of information on the web. Use it!”

Alison Halfpenny: “Carefully consider why you want to move in the first instance. Next be sure your CV is up-to-date, to the point, accurate and interesting, be well prepared for interview and undertake enough due diligence on your potential new employer to be really comfortable before accepting an offer.”

Alex Sutherland: “At the moment the market is very candidate rich. This has a number of effects on the market. Two years ago a company would give us a list of ten boxes that a successful applicant would need to tick. Back then if we were able to tick seven or eight of them we were on to a winner. Now that there are so many candidates actively in the market there are always a good number of applicants that tick all of the boxes. This basically means that if you are going for a job that is slightly different from your current role you are at a major disadvantage. If you work in business development for example and are keen to get back into an operational role then now is not the right time. Companies have the luxury of being extremely choosy when deciding who to bring forward for interview. My main piece of advice around this is to tailor your CV to the role you are applying for. Do not fabricate any achievements but really pick out the points that are relevant to the role and elaborate on them.”

Ashleigh Brown: “If you want to change your job but stay within the same type of role, just with a different company, then this is going to be far easier for you at the moment. Where it gets difficult is if you are trying to completely change your role from one thing to another where you have little or no experience. This is because you will be competing in a candidate-rich environment against other people who have been made redundant with the skills you might be lacking, so you will have to do a really good job of motivating your reason for the change and your suitability. But also do not get despondent if trying to make a career change at the moment – patience, perseverance and a positive attitude will win out.”

Simon Aspinall: “First of all it is important to understand why a person is thinking about changing roles (career development, lifestyle change, money, stale etc) then research and plan accordingly based on your aspirations and expectations of the new role.”

Why is it still beneficial to use recruitment agencies to find the top candidates?

Alison Halfpenny: “There is a strong possibility that the agencies / consultancies will have access to people that the client does not. Recruiting well and for the right people takes time and commitment and that is what we do on a daily basis without the worry of running the day to day business, as the client does. We can keep the project discreet if required, and if well briefed we will sell the opportunity appropriately on the client’s behalf. We take away the pain of the process.”

Alex Sutherland: “Top candidates are generally good at what they do. As a result they are generally paid well, are happy in their job and are not actively looking for another opportunity. They will not be looking at job adverts or talking to agencies as finding a new job is really not something that is on their mind. That is where we come in!

“Every day we are constantly learning about the market, making new contacts, obtaining information on companies, finding out who does what and how well they do it. Armed with this information we are able to target specific people who we would class as ‘top candidates’. We can present them with opportunities, get an understanding of what would make them move and match their needs with the opportunities we have.

“Don’t get me wrong not all top candidates need to be head-hunted, sometimes we can get lucky with and advert or a referral, but the majority of them do. This process can be quite lengthy and, if done correctly, is quite a skill. We are able to target the top 10% of the market most employers do not have access to.

“We are not saying that we are the only people who can do this, but we do it on a daily basis so what we can do is save you time, save you money and ultimately give you piece of mind.”

Ashleigh Brown: “One of the best reasons for continuing to use agencies for your recruitment would be that they cut out all the hard and time consuming work. They will only send you the best of all the applicants to review/interview. Good recruiters also network a lot within the industry and thus have access to a wide range of skill sets, which could prove very useful for some of the more challenging positions that you might have. It also pays to use industry specific recruiters to fill your requirements within FM as many of the generalist agencies do not understand FM at all.”

Simon Aspinall: “Not just still but more than ever! However, to make it work the client and recruitment agency need to work closely together so that the agency understands not just the role itself but also the structure, culture and strategy of the wider business and client takes appropriate advice from agency. It is probably true that more clients are attempting to recruit directly by using the easily accessible and wide variety of online tools, but that method can prove to be quite onerous and time consuming without necessarily identifying the best candidates.”

“It is a competitive market so using a specialist agency where the consultants and researchers are highly experienced and knowledgeable in both the recruitment process and the industries covered is essential. Also, often the most suitable talent is not actively seeking a new role and this is where the agency can use their knowledge and experience to search and select the very best candidates to present to their client.”

Nikki Dallas: “A good recruitment consultant who is an expert in their field will save you time and money by finding you the right talent for your business, first time. Identifying and engaging talent can be time consuming, costly and can have disastrous effects if you don’t get it right. Employers often underestimate how effective a resource agencies can be in positively marketing your business in the industry.”

Contact our panel

Alex Sutherland, Director
FM Property Recruitment Network
Tel: 0121 450 5115 / Mobile: 07960 872387

Ashleigh Brown, Senior FM Account Manager
Dovetail FM Recruitmen
Tel: 01635 43100

Simon Aspinall, Director
Catch 22
Tel: 0113 242 8077 / Mobile: 07976 156351

Nikki Dallas, Director
Talent FM
Tel: 0844 880 2426

Alison Halfpenny, Director
Tel: 07810 011896

If you enjoyed this blog, and you’d like to hear expert opinion on any other aspect of FM, drop me a line with your suggestions at

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