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Our View on the Architecture job market

Posted March 11, 2024

Our Permanent Recruitment Team Lead for the North and Midlands Holly Robinson offers her insights into the state of the market for architecture careers.

“Last year was relatively quiet in the architecture careers space, with around 10% of Architects switching employers. Having seen the usual seasonal slowdown towards the end of Q4, hiring demand for all architects is increasing.

We predict a standard mix of both permanent and contract hiring over 2024. While permanent architects are preferred, especially for long-term programmes, contractors with specialist skill sets or specific domain knowledge will always be in demand.

As cloud computing becomes the norm, customers are always looking for candidates with solid experience with cloud platforms such as Azure, AWS and Google Cloud to a lesser degree. Artificial Intelligence is also high on the mind as a skill set that customers are looking to hire and one that candidates are looking to upskill in or learn in a new role.”

Interested to find out more? You can read Sanderson’s full market analysis in our latest Technology & Digital Insights Report for Q1 2024.

Click here to download the full report.

Our Talent Insights team are available to help you to understand more about talent trends, challenges and opportunities to make data-driven hiring decisions.

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What does the Data job market look like going into 2024?

Posted March 10, 2024

Sandersons Principle Consultant Sian Dean gives her view on the current state of the data job market and looks at the importance of data skills for 2024 candidates.

“The Data market has remained strong over the past year, with just over one in five data professionals switching companies in 2023. All types of businesses recognise the importance of data and how it can help drive better decision-making, improve productivity and create competitive advantages.

While we are seeing demand for contract and permanent resources, we are seeing demand for contractors with specialist skillsets outpace demand for permanent staff. We are seeing candidates gravitate towards roles where they will get the opportunity to work with cloud technologies and where they will get exposure to Artificial intelligence.

Finally, in a world where more and more businesses are trying to get staff back into the office, we see that the demand for candidates with niche data skills, such as Data Engineers, is so high that they can still secure fully remote roles.”

Get the full report by downloading the 2024 Q1 insights report for Technology & Digital here.

Our expert talent insights team use a variety of first-hand research techniques, tools and proprietary data to help you understand more about the trends and opportunities within your market.

Our projects range from salary benchmarking for a single vacancy to multi-region competitor analysis and talent pool insights to support global location strategies. We offer a tailored service backed up by expertise, where we listen to your challenges and generate solution-based advice.

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Our view on the Finance job market

Posted March 9, 2024

As experts in understanding the job market, in this blog we give you an overview of the current state of the finance job market. With a focus on Scotland, Consultant Declyn Brown shares his thoughts:

“In 2023, businesses across the nation tried to cut costs and reduce spending to enhance their profitability. In Scotland, we witnessed a notable rise in layoffs, which, combined with the ongoing cost of living crisis, led to a higher than usual number of active candidates. However, hiring demand did not meet the available candidate supply, resulting in a sluggish job market. Interestingly, while we saw permanent roles put on hold, we saw an increase in the number of FTCs, demonstrating a client-driven market.

The finance market of 2024 is showing signs of improvement as companies are resuming projects that were earlier postponed. As inflation rates drop and economic confidence grows, we anticipate an increase in hiring activity. While the supply of candidates for generalist finance roles remains high, niche positions like Financial Data Analysts will continue to be challenging to fill, particularly as data is becoming an increasingly popular area for businesses to invest in.”

To access more information and cutting edge insights into the market, download our latest Finance & Accountancy Insight Report for Q1 here.


Is the demand for actuaries continuing?

Posted March 8, 2024

Sanderson Senior Actuarial Consultant George Mohan gives his thoughts on the actuarial job market and the demand for actuarial talent as we move into 2024:

“There was a high demand for both interim and permanent actuarial talent in the latter half of 2023, and this trend is expected to continue throughout 2024. In particular, demand for interim actuaries is high due to ongoing regulatory changes such as Solvency UK, which has caused a rise in demand for risk and capital actuaries.

The shortage of contract actuarial professionals has also increased the demand for permanent actuaries, resulting in candidates being able to demand and, more importantly, secure higher salaries due to the levels of competition.

We expect the permanent and contract actuarial job markets to be very busy through 2024. As it is a candidate-driven market, companies need to ensure that they can retain their current talent, pay competitive salaries, and have a strong employer brand and EVP to make sure they can attract the best talent.“

Interested to find out more? Download the latest Finance & Accountancy Quarterly Insight Report here.


A positive outlook for the 2024 change and transformation market

Posted March 7, 2024

Chris Baker, Sanderson Project & Programme Management Principal Consultant, gives his take on the outlook for the Change & Transformation job market in 2024:

“The contingent Business Change & Transformation market was largely dormant in the second half of 2023 across the country, with few clients recruiting in significant numbers and a marked dearth of large transformation programmes being initiated across almost all industry sectors. However, the London Specialist Insurance market has stayed buoyant, with strong demand for contingent and permanent hiring.

2024 has started much more positively, with clients across multiple sectors beginning to plan for change throughout the year, although an air of caution is still clearly prevalent. The expectation is that hiring demand will grow as we progress into the year. Initial indications suggest that we will see notable demand for customer rectification programmes being spun up within the financial services industry, fee restructuring within the wealth sector, and merger and acquisition activities across multiple sectors.

In a slower, client-led, contingent market, requirements for individual hires remain very specific, and we expect that to become slightly less focused as the contingent workforce currently sitting on the bench returns to work and the balance between hiring demand and candidate availability returns to a more even keel.”

To access more information on the latest industry trends regarding Business Change & Transformation, download Sanderson’s latest Insight Report here.


State of the Business Analyst Job Market

Posted March 6, 2024

With the business analyst market showing promising signs of improvement, Sanderson Business Change Senior Consultant Suzanne Elder has shared her thoughts on the current state of play.

“2023 saw a significant number of transformation programmes being put on hold, leading to larger numbers of business analysts on the market searching for new roles. As a result, when a customer needed a business analyst, applications were abundant, around triple the amount that we would typically expect.

The market has shown signs of improvement in 2024. We have heard from clients about new programmes of work starting or restarting around Digital and Agile transformation and we have seen an increase in the number of Business Analyst roles, both permanent and contract, with a slight weighting to contract.

The mandate to return to the office that some companies are starting to enforce is also creating some activity in the market, as job seekers seek to depart from employers who insist on three or more days in the office, in favour of companies that provide a more flexible hybrid model.”

To download our full Insight Report for the Change & Transformation market, please click here.

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Employability Skills Training for the Cyber Sector

Posted November 15, 2023

How important are employability skills in the cyber sector job market? Well, they’re invaluable! These essential skills, personal attributes and values set you up to thrive in any workplace and the Sanderson team were thrilled to join the recent SANS Institute UpSkill event to deliver an Employability Skills training session for the cyber sector.

Established in 1979, the SANS Institute is a cooperative for information security thought leadership and have an ongoing mission to empower cyber security professionals with the practical skills and knowledge they need to make our world a safer place – a great partner for the Sanderson team to get involved with.

During our training session we had the opportunity to engage with a whole host of inspiring cyber professionals and provide them with a toolkit and top tips to help them transition into the industry.

Joining the training was Sanderson Managing Consultant for Cyber & Information Security Mary Pearson. Her key takeaways from the day were:

“I feel passionate about supporting anyone who is looking to start a career in cyber security. Partnering with the SANS program has allowed us to impart our knowledge to work towards the common goal of reducing the skills gap in security, with schemes like this I am positive we will get there!”

There is a cyber security talent pool ready and waiting to be tapped into, so if you’re an employer looking to hire entry-level cyber security professionals into your organisation, or offer any internships in this area, then please do get in touch with Mary Pearson for more details and how Sanderson could help you find your next hire.

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Executive Search: The gold standard of talent acquisition

Posted September 28, 2022

Executive Search is the gold standard of talent acquisition. With the risks associated with making the wrong leadership decision and a small, highly experienced talent pool that is typically passive and in high demand, executive search assignments are typically entrusted to highly experienced search specialists with a proven methodology and extensive networks.

Sanderson Executive Search

At Sanderson, our executive search service is designed to provide a whole of market research-based assignment for challenging, unique, or leadership resourcing needs. It’s a highly consultative service in which we take the time to fully explore the requirement, agree realistic outcomes, offer complete transparency on the talent that matches the requirement and what motivates them, amplify our client’s brand to engage and attract candidates and provide a high touch service through every stage of the process.

This is most commonly used to identify the best candidate or create a succession plan for one individual role. However, given the current challenges associated with recruiting large volumes of specialist vacancies, most notably within the tech and digital sector. We asked John Rainsbury, Head of Executive Search at Sanderson and Conor Hiller, for their advice on what talent acquisition teams could borrow from executive search to deliver high quality hires, at scale…

Consult more with hiring managers when briefing a vacancy to better explore the requirement and agree realistic and achievable outcomes:

Too often, recruiters both in-house and agency are willing to solely take orders from customers and to ask simple questions. Executive recruiters are expected to have a better perspective of the market than their customers, which allows them to consider the wider industry challenges. With competition for talent at record highs there is a real need for recruiters to add value, truly understand the need and be capable of guiding the hiring manager through the challenges associated with the current market. Thanks to this context our recruiters are capable of adding value and understanding the nature of the recruitment need. The customer will certainly have a strategic understanding of their ideal hire, which may get them 80% of the way to the best hire, but 20% remains opaque. Strong consultancy by recruiters will overcome this and guide customers to the best possible result.

Focus on all candidates not just those available:

Executive search services focus on delivering best-in-market candidates. This is founded on a research-led, proactive sourcing strategy which widens our talent pool, and allows us to guarantee that the shortlisted candidates are the best options. ‘Active’ job seekers are currently overwhelmed by the sheer number of adverts on platforms such as Indeed and LinkedIn and will typically have multiple opportunities. In addition to this, many of our clients, particularly in the tech sector, have the need to hire specialist skills at scale. To deliver this we have to commit to a proactive recruitment strategy, and it is essential that we utilise proactive sourcing. This widens our talent pool, and allows us to guarantee that the candidates we deliver are the best options. Focal to our leadership appointments solution is thorough primary research, identifying and engaging with all relevant prospects not just those available. This provides our customers every opportunity to attract top talent.

Work in partnership with hiring managers to solve recruitment challenges:

The world does not stand still, business priorities shift and even with the best insight the employment market cannot be predicted with total accuracy.  It is essential that our executive search recruiters have the agility to communicate with our customers, present both challenge/ opportunity and solution, but genuinely garner customer input to ensure alignment with their preferences and business priorities. The most flexible recruiters will be able to test and learn with their customer, operating in a genuine partnership throughout the assignment process.

Ensure you’re building the right proposition:

It is not as simple as understanding the role, business and practicalities associated. To build a compelling proposition effectively you must really understand the motivations and drivers of both your candidate and customer. A strong executive recruiter will be capable of working with individuals, highlighting the key motivational match between the opportunity and their priorities. Being an attentive and capable listener is essential along with an ability to apply that insight in building a personalised proposition to either candidate or customer.

Provide real support to candidates through onboarding:

Executive Recruiters are used to working with candidates who have long notice periods. With potentially 6-12 months between a candidate accepting an offer and starting on day one, there has always been a need for exec recruiters to check-in on a regular basis and organise opportunities, where appropriate for the successful candidate to keep in touch with their new boss, meet new colleagues or attend company events during the onboarding process. The sheer competition for talent has seen a significant rise on counter offers from both current and prospective employers which has significantly increased the risk of a candidate not starting in their new role. Whilst notice periods may be significantly shorter than for leadership hires, there is just as much need for that high touch approach during onboarding, guiding a candidate through the process and maintaining their excitement in the new opportunity they have accepted.

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What does the repeal of the IR35 (Off Payroll Rules) really mean?

Posted September 26, 2022

As I am sure you are all now aware the IR35 reforms that were introduced for the Public Sector in 2017 and the Private Sector in 2021 were repealed last week, with the change coming into effect in April 2023.

On the face of it this appears to be very good news for the UK contracting community, with the opportunity to revert to more tax-efficient supply via personal service company (PSC) arrangements.

So what has really happened here? Under the reforms from 2017/2021 the responsibility for assessing the tax status of a worker passed to the public and private sector users and suppliers, therefore passing all liability to end users and suppliers if the worker is found to be really not self-employed. This has resulted in many end users effectively banning the use of PSCs and forcing contractors into employed models. The repeal will pass the decision making, and liability, for this status back to the personal service company, allowing for more tax efficient engagement where appropriate.

As ever with tax law the transition back to what was in place beforehand will not be straightforward in all cases, here we discuss what we anticipate to be some of the commonly asked questions.

1. Will it be easy for a contractor to switch from an inside IR35 arrangement to an outside one after April 2023?

It is likely that the end user determinations issued in the period up to April 2023 may have a hangover effect after the legislation is repealed. HMRC will effectively have an easier job taking action against contractors because there will be a decision on record (via an SDS) that the role is not really self-employed. It may be difficult for contractors to mount a defence if investigated by HMRC, which in turn will create worry in the contracting population of the potential liability that overhangs this.

2. Will the end user, who has for the last two years determined a role as inside IR35, be able to turn a blind eye to PSC judgments placing the same role outside IR35?

All organisations have an obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion in their supply chain. If they do not, and there is found to be tax evasion in the supply chain, they can face prosecution for a corporate criminal offence. And so will end users seek to reassure themselves as to the ongoing tax status of contractors past April 2023 to ensure they are not failing to prevent tax evasion? Inevitably corporate organisations will be nervous about this for some time.

3. Will corporates continue with their blanket umbrella only policies?

Many end users have in effect banned the use of PSCs, and may decide to uphold this policy simply because of the hassle involved in undoing that policy and potentially opening up other liabilities. This will certainly reduce their access to talent, with the repeal will likely follow an appetite to work on outside IR35 engagements for a large proportion of the contractor population (particularly in high demand areas such as secure government) and as such we would expect migration away from blanket policies over time, if not immediately.

4. What else could HMRC do to tackle a migration to outside working?

The hope in the repeal of this legislation is that there is a clear intent from government to allow those workers that claim to be self-employed to be left alone. The likelihood is that HMRC will focus back on evidencing supervision, direction and control as their key measure for establishing in self-employment is present. As such it is critical that all contractors continue to be vigilant in showing clearly that there is no supervision, direction and control of the worker.

5. What will contractors who have now closed their limited companies need to do?

If the limited company has been closed within the last two years it falls within HMRC’s targeted anti avoidance rule (TAAR), which in essence stipulates that if you open a new company with the same trade within two years of taking the final funds out of your limited company , you may have to revisit any tax benefits you received when closing the company. In essence this means that any funds withdrawn as capital will then need to be treated as income, which of course could mean there is additional tax to pay.

6. What will happen to the CEST tool?

It will continue to exist, and we expect HMRC will continue to promote its use, however the responsibility for making the determination drops down to the PSC level and therefore there will be no ongoing requirement for end users to run a status determination of any kind.

7. Does this repeal spell the end of Statement of Work (SOW) models?

Not at all. The key to the migration to SOW models has been the provision of services to outcomes rather than to time. There is great merit in shifting some working arrangements to have a great emphasis on the provision of outcomes and deliverables rather than time alone. This model can be both easier to purchase and easier to deliver, and as such we fully expect the continuation of SOW models as and where the method continues to have merit and deliver better value for all parties.

And so I believe that whilst this repeal is going to be widely well received, there are still significant challenges in adoption and the evolution of the UK contracting market.

The great news is that the administrative burden placed on end users will be greatly reduced, and sensible application of the rules at PSC level will allow the contracting market to revert to where it was a few years ago.

We must all remember that the current measures remain in force until April 2023 and therefore current measures should not be unravelled until then, however planning will be required for those contractors you have ending assignment on or around the end of the tax year, and of course for those workers that straddle the date of repeal.

It is then a waiting game to see how HMRC intend to approach this, it is highly likely that major breaches will still be pursued, and we may yet have a new government before HMRC is out of time to bring claims, which could lead to a flood of cases relating to this period.

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The Honesty Blog of a Working Mum

Posted September 2, 2022

With work life balance quite literally hanging in the balance across the nation, it’s never been more paramount to start shifting the dynamic for working parents within businesses.

It has become far too easy and common for businesses to see ED&I as a tick box exercise that can be accomplished by making lacklustre, minor adjustments, often with little meaning behind them. By continuing down this path, we will not only continue to fail the underrepresented communities within the workplace, but we are setting back timelines for the future generations.

As a proud, part-time working mum myself, I could spend all day talking about not only the challenges faced, but the fears and worries I had about returning to work after spending the most incredible 15 months raising and nurturing my iron-willed daughter.

Anyone who knows me well enough, will know that I’m a fairly open book; what you see is what you get, and if I’m passionate about something, you can absolutely guarantee that I will make my voice heard.

It angers and upset me, far more than I could ever vocalise, the number of times throughout my career as a Recruitment Consultant I have had to fight for the rights of working mums. I’ve been faced with far too many situations in which hiring managers have suggested it would be far ‘easier’ to hire a full-time member of staff, or more ‘convenient’ to hire a male candidate over a female candidate as, God forbid, they may wish to take time out to raise a family. Thankfully, as times are changing, these occurrences are becoming few and far between, but it’s not good enough, and there is still so much work to do when it comes to supporting woman’s careers in the workplace.

I have been lucky enough to spend the morning with Genny, and Michelle, two other working mums that I am truly proud to work alongside, here at Sanderson Government & Defence. We’ve been talking openly and honestly about motherhood. The up’s, the downs, the in-betweens, and our transitions back into the workplace. We’ve been sharing stories, sharing strengths, and putting the world to rights, because let’s face it – the future generations deserve nothing more than to grow up believing they really can do anything they want regardless of their gender, race, sexuality, religion, or anything else for that matter.

So here goes, the honesty blog of three working mums at Sanderson G&D.

To kick-start things, I asked Michelle what her initial fears and concerns were, when she started looking for a new role as a working mum, and here’s what she had to say…

“My number one priority when looking for a new role was that it absolutely had to offer part time hours. My concerns and fears only increased when I saw how few jobs were advertised online as ‘part time’. I didn’t necessarily need a role that offered school hours, but I wanted to do 20/25 hours per week which from my experience was very difficult to find from a prospective employer. When I had initially returned to my previous role after maternity leave 8-years ago, I felt as though I was being pushed out of the business. None of the other consultants were working parents, and no one in the business worked part-time hours, so I was made to feel like an inconvenience.

“I was given the ultimatum of either working full time hours, or moving on from the business entirely, as I was told they could not ‘accommodate’ the hours I had requested. Given the fact that I was already working a 40-hour week which was 8-5.30, with little to no flexibility, it was impossible for me to commit to a full-time role. I had only just returned from maternity leave and was saddened by the fact that I would have such little time with my child during the week. With that in mind, I decided I needed to start the search for a new role, but there were certainly new worries, and concerns around whether I would be able to find a business who was willing to work around my childcare needs. Things have certainly changed in the last 8 years, and I’m pleased to see that my previous employer have now evolved and adapted to flexible working.”

Next up, I spoke to Genny, who joined the business earlier this year to find out a little more about her recruitment experience with Sanderson G&D…

“After having my son, I also returned to my employer at the time, working three days a week which they were thankfully willing to consider at the time. After a little while in this role, I realised that I was up for a new challenge, and I was keen to find a new opportunity where I could expand on my previous experience. My husband had received a promotion while I was on maternity leave, which had lit a fire within me to drive my own career forward. I initially interviewed for a Sales role with another business. I had great feedback from my interview and was told they wanted me to progress to the final interview stage, at this point I said I wasn’t ready to do full time hours and would like to do three or four days. The response from said business, was that they wouldn’t be able to facilitate any flexibility around hours/days and that they needed a full-time member of staff. I then spent a lot of time explaining how I could make it work, and suggested an opportunity to prove this to them. It’s surprising in this day and age that a business who has branded themselves as innovative were so quick to say ‘no’ to the needs of a working mum.

“Thankfully the recruitment process with Sanderson was an entirely different experience. During my interview process with Nick, I was asked what I was looking for, what was important to me within a role, and what my aspirations and strengths were. From there, we worked together to build a role around all of those things, based on me working a three-day week. I feel really lucky to be able to continue my career development, whilst also being able to spend two days of the week with my son.”

Michelle then talked us through how she juggles being a mum and working full time…

“For me, organisation is key, and I live by my diary. There is so much to remember when it comes to juggling work whilst being a mum. From school drop offs, work meetings, kids’ activities, school dress down days, PE kits, lunch boxes etc. I try to make my life easier by doing things like a weekly online food shop, and doing the house work in the evenings when the children are in bed. That combined with multiple reminder alerts on my phone makes things just that little bit easier.

“Sanderson has been really great at offering a flexible environment, whether that’s for children’s doctor/dentist appointments, sports days, or school plays. It’s very clear that family comes first, and that is echoed across the wider business. I’ve been lucky enough at Sanderson to work in a hybrid environment which has meant I often get to do school pickups/drop offs, but equally I love my time in the office, where I get to chat with my colleagues, and I am able to bounce ideas around and learn from the people around me.”

When I reflect on my own personal experience of looking for a new role after having my daughter, there were so many important factors, from flexibility, social aspects, the core beliefs of the business and the team I would surround myself with. I can’t speak on behalf of all mums, but I felt that during my maternity leave, I had lost a little bit of my identity and felt that my career would forever be on the backburner, which is something I really struggled with. Working in an environment where there is so much opportunity for variety, and where I feel I get to make a genuine difference has made me feel like my old self once more. From business events, networking opportunities, CSR meet-ups, ED&I training, Woman in Tech campaigns and so much more.

When my daughter is older, I want her to be able to advocate for herself, to feel that her voice will, and should always be heard. I want to set the example for her, that she, at no point should feel that she should ‘stay quiet’ or hide in the shadows in times where positive change is needed. I hope this article helps to give hope to any new mums looking to return to work, and I hope this will remind businesses out there, who are struggling to shift the dynamic, that people really are your biggest asset.