Recruiting expert Ilka Szentkiralyi on the new reality of recruitment - and how companies can meet the challenges of a changing labour market.

How has applicant behaviour changed in recent years? Where is the trend heading? Ilka Szentkiralyi, founder of the active sourcing boutique indivHR: Today's applicants are self-confident and know what they want - and what they don't want. They don't ask: "What does the company expect from me?", but rather: "What does the company do for me?" This is not necessarily about monetary benefits. For young applicants, it is much more important how much overtime is worked, how quickly they can take on responsibility and how meaningful the job is.

Well-trained young applicants in particular know how difficult it has become for companies to find good employees. The demand for qualified IT specialists is higher than it has been for a long time. In this respect, they are in the privileged position of being able to make demands. A few years ago, things were very different. Good jobs were hotly contested and young applicants had to bow to the demands of companies.

It's a little different for older applicants. Even today, it is not so easy for them to find a good job. Today's over-50s are much more willing to compromise than the younger generation. Despite their years of professional experience, companies often think less of them. And they tend to be more expensive. Companies also fear that older employees will be sick more often and therefore have to expect longer periods of absence. In addition, the baby boomer generation in particular has learnt to be subordinate. Unfortunately, this is particularly true of women.

However, not all companies can or want to face the tough competition for well-trained young applicants. Internationally active companies in particular are increasingly looking abroad for suitable candidates. They may not always be as well trained, but they have fewer demands. In return, some companies are prepared to invest in the training and further education of foreign applicants, e.g. as part of internship programmes.

Interestingly, the so-called Generation Y phenomenon does not exist in southern and eastern European countries. Unemployment is sometimes high there and applicants have significantly less power than in this country. For me, therefore, the trend - especially in large companies - is clearly towards a globalisation of the labour market.

What new demands will millennials and the next generations bring with them? In contrast to Generation Y, which seems to see its own benefits and the fulfilment of its own wishes above all else, the next generations are probably more concerned with careers and getting ahead quickly. At the same time, the younger generation shows a stronger tendency towards closer ties. Values such as family, marriage and loyalty are becoming more important again.

How should companies respond to these changes in motivation mechanisms? In addition to support programmes, stays abroad and the rapid transfer of responsibility, the main thing is to make applicants aware of the importance of the profession. For example, IT specialists with certain niche skills are urgently needed in German-speaking countries. To be able to do these jobs, a degree in a technical field is required. This is followed by continuous further training and specialisation. The training process is therefore quite long and is continued via trainee and training programmes at the companies. This creates a close bond with the company even at this early stage.

So it's about explaining to candidates what you as a company are also doing for the further training of employees. And this is separate from the financial aspects. However, because numbers and vanity often take centre stage, some companies find this difficult. I have often heard the phrase: "Our company is so prestigious that we will always find applicants - even if we have little to offer in terms of staff development." But if you look at the demographic development over the next few years, you will see that there will be far fewer applicants in the future. In my opinion, resting on our existing image is simply short-sighted and arrogant. And no educated young applicant will voluntarily go to an arrogant company if they have other alternatives.


Ilka Szentkiralyi is a recruiting expert and Managing Director of indivHR. An active sourcing/recruiting boutique specialising in the search for IT experts in German-speaking countries.

Which sectors are feeling the change particularly strongly - and how should they deal with it? The change is affecting all sectors. One industry that was very popular until a few years ago and could choose its candidates was the consulting industry. However, even the large management consultancies that are spoilt for success are finding it increasingly difficult to find suitable candidates. They are still finding some without having to cut corners. But the pool from which they can draw is getting smaller and smaller. One of the main reasons is the large number of working hours in this industry. 60 to 80 hours a week is quite normal. In addition, they end up in a technical management position quite early on, but not in a disciplinary one. This in turn can be a disadvantage if they later aspire to a higher position in the industry.

Of course, small and medium-sized industrial companies in rural areas are in a particularly difficult situation. Who wants to work in a remote small town when they graduate? If a company can't offer something special or convey the meaningfulness of the work, it will be even harder to attract applicants in the coming years.

How will companies and applicants meet in the future? What will change in terms of recruitment, what will stay the same? I think that companies will have to invest even more in employee marketing in the future and present their profile as an employer to the public. The mission and vision of the company play a major role in this. Who are we? Where do we want to go? Why do we do what we do? Social networks continue to play a major role. But traditional channels, such as open days, are also important. Companies need to open up more and show who they are. It's like the individual: if I don't show who I am, the people who are right for me won't be able to find me.

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