We’re living in highly disruptive times – especially in the automotive sector. This was abundantly clear listening to the presentations and discussions at our annual Advisory Board meeting earlier this month, where the topics ranged from the radical digital and technological transformation taking place in our industry to developments in diversity and inclusion.

As executive search specialists, we at Ennis & Co see the impact of these seismic changes on the recruitment landscape and the pressing need for new as well as traditional skills to drive the revolution.

So, from a recruitment perspective, here are some of my top takeaways from the event:

1. Managing people in a disruptive marketplace can be challenging. Digital disruption is having a tangible impact on the remarketing business. For example, auction demand is in decline, with a 30-40% reduction in physical stock through the trading hall. With this in mind, it’s essential to understand the trends and the future direction of the industry and develop plans to balance today’s resources and people with tomorrow’s requirements.

The complexity for leaders in the remarketing sector (from a people perspective) is balancing the need to find the people who can deliver these new opportunities. It’s a mixture of recognising and developing the transferrable skills from within the traditional ‘metal moving’ business (which will always be required) and new skills from elsewhere, such as digital and technological.

2. Prioritising candidate experiences is a must. One of the things we’re seeing a lot more of is the whole candidate experience being really high on the agenda. This extends from when a candidate is first approached to how they are treated at interview and onboarded. That is really changing. People don’t just want to be given a contract. They want to feel that they are embracing the whole thing.

Shouting about the brand is becoming increasingly important. I did a piece of work recently where I conducted a lot of internal interviews for a client and it was really interesting to hear the employees’ understanding of their brand, and what they wanted out of it. It’s not just about people joining, it’s about people in your organisation looking to move into different areas.

3. Soft skills are the currency of the future. Between now and 2030, demand for social and emotional skills will grow across all industries by 26% in the United States and 22% in Europe. While some skills, such as empathy, are innate – others such as advanced communication can be taught. ‘Soft skills’ relate to attributes like collaboration, agility and communication – which will be key components of critical skills needed in the future.

4. Diversity & inclusion initiatives flourishing. Diversity and inclusion remains high on the corporate agenda. Many organisations are channelling best practice to ensure a diverse and inclusive workforce is appreciated and celebrated, as well as to retain and nurture existing talent.

5. Salaries are a moveable feast. Salary benchmarks for senior staff are becoming increasingly irrelevant, with competition for the best candidate leading to wage inflation. The trend has accelerated over the last six months and I expect it to continue.

Significantly, there is now huge inconsistency in terms of salary levels in the UK abroad, and people who are considering a move are finding out what their worth is in the market.

This carries a risk for the hiring company as people who have worked for the organisation for five or six years are now seeing new people come in on salary packages worth £20k or more than their own. Is this fair? The vast majority would say no.

Interestingly, I have been conducting a search for a specific skill set recently and for the first time EVER there has been a bias towards women – where women’s skills are being paid higher than the men. This is not something you see every day and it’s an interesting turn of events, to say the least.

Within our weird and wonderful industry, the changes are not all bad. In fact, for many of us it’s making us busier and more productive.

There’s so much discussion at the moment and I know that it feels a little bit crazy, but I think sometimes people forget that this is a good place to be. There are a lot of industries that aren’t in the same place as we are and the transition is going to be one hell of a ride.