The State Of Recruitment In 2020

Feels like a lifetime since we last summed up the complete and utter state of the recruitment industry. Actually, it was only last year. And to be more accurate, just four months ago.

That was Birmingham.

This time, it was the Recruitment Agency Expo at London’s Olympia.

The recruitment industry’s Christmas.

The wolf wasn’t there when I went. Although his essence was noticeable at stand B3, just outside the cafeteria and across the way from Hunted pals Hinterview.

In fact, here’s the big man chinning a hot cup of ambition out of his new signature mug prior to a full day of razzlin’ and dazzlin’:

What’s going on in RecTech?

Such is the expo’s desire, and it being very much a trade show, the question of Tech was at the forefront of most conversations. And whereas, in Birmingham, it was the subject of much speculation, the place of tech in today’s recruitment landscape felt very much answered in London:

“Tech will turn recruiters into machines.”

In a good way.

Machine like a compliment. “Filby? He’s a MACHINE”. Like that. In the second ever article I wrote for Hunted, I said “AI won’t take the human touch out of recruitment. It’ll shine a light on it.”

So how would you hurdle any shortcomings highlighted by Tech?

By doubling down on your strengths. And partnering with someone who can compensate for your weaknesses.

Let’s say you’re excellent at Sourcing. And the recruiter you sit next to physically cannot stop themselves BDing.

Would it not make sense for the two of you to combine efforts, leveraging each other’s strengths for the common good (making placements), and focusing a healthy portion of your commission by splitting fees?

Step back a bit and at a business level, let’s say your agency’s really good at filling jobs, but absolutely naff at social media, marketing, content and video.

Partner with an agency who does all of those things brilliantly, all day every day, leaving you to focus on what you do best.

Maybe you’re excellent at hiring for your market, but hiring recruiters to join your business is another matter entirely. Friendly piece of advice: there’s a platform to use which helps with exactly that.

It seems times have changed

We’ve got less of it now. And so we need to do more with it.

Recruitment is mostly performing manual tasks. Some of which – and I’m mainly talking about scheduling, messaging, and top of the funnel chats – can be automated. And there’s an argument that perhaps they should.

According to one event speaker ‘95% of people prefer talking to a bot before they speak to a person.’

Is this indicative of society growing out of touch with one another? And eschewing the human touch in an industry that’s historically relied upon it?

Or is this simply more reflective of modern consumer habits? Where there’ll be an app for everything. And qualifying a buyer in or out, at a robotic level, is just what passes for common practice nowadays?

Will machines start making pass/fail, yes/no judgements on candidates? I doubt it.

Should they? See above.

But why bother ringing 100 numbers off a list when a tool will tell you that 5 have been on your website in the past week, and are just waiting for you to reach out to them?

See, it’s not about blanket buying Tech and waiting for the results to roll in. It’s about picking the right tools, making sure people understand what it is, why it’s useful, and that they’re properly trained to get the most out of it.

We feature the best RecTech on the market in our monthly Productivity Hacks series. You can dip into it, here.

There are heightened expectations

The threat to agency recruiters is now greater. Before, it was MSPs and RPOs bringing something new to the table. Then it was a new breed of onsite solution. Now it’s all manner of hiring management outfits, consultancy groups, and workflow automation and design specialists.

In terms of sophistication of service, hiring companies are moving beyond “I need a guy with X, Y, Z experience” and toward “I want my recruitment strategy to solve A, B, and C problems in my business”.

It’s not enough to fill jobs. You’ve got to solve business level problems.

Recruiters will need to get creative to compete with organisations whose sole aim is to bring everything into one place AND cut margins. Those who have a branding and marketing strategy ready to go. Active talent pools waiting to be tapped. An outreach method you can measure. And a candidate journey you’d tell your mum about.

The trick to doing so’s not necessarily to overcook your offering. But to justify it.

Sounds simple but bring more value to your clients and you’ll sew them up firmer, and for longer.

IR35 is still on everyone’s mind

Like the last four letter configuration to take the industry by storm, this one’s generating a fair old cloud of uncertainty.

New rules will apply from the 6th of April this year.

The rules regarding liability in particular are quite complex.

In short, whoever’s paying the personal services company – the contractor’s LTD – is liable to foot the bill if incorrect taxes have been deducted.

I’ll give you a moment to work out that this means you, and not your client, before we move on.

Your clients will be expecting you to guide them through IR35. And if it’s likely to impact your billings, what contingencies have you got in place to cover any loss?

Develop partnerships right now – as in, today – with IR35 experts.

In the meantime, read this about how to get ready for IR35. But in short, if you haven’t had a process level conversation with your clients about it, it’s on the verge of becoming too late.

You’ll need to segment your candidates based on who’s in, who’s out, and who inhabits the grey area.

Start thinking about skillsets. How scarce they are, how valuable they are to your clients, how you can get hold of them, and what to do when you can’t.

What’s the trigger for bringing up IR35? A contract extension? All placements going forward? Or are you waiting for April?

Whether it’s talking about tax rules, doing more for your clients in general, or picking the right suite of Tech products to enhance your offering, the message is clear: it’s got to happen now. Because in a few months, the game will have changed again.

And on that note, see you in Birmingham in October, Recruitment.