Recruitment jobs: old and new

Recruitment jobs old and new

It’s been more than 100 years since the first recruitment agency opened in the UK. In that time the industry has changed massively, but the basic need to find or advertise a job has remained the same. We take a look at how the digital age and other factors have impacted the hiring process.

Social media matters

Gone are the days when recruiting the best candidate involved putting an advert in the local paper. Thanks to the internet, today’s recruitment consultants are more proactive than ever – making social media skills a necessity for hunting out the top candidates.

James Lesner, Digital and Technology Recruitment Consultant at Handle Recruitment says, “The job now relies more heavily on using social channels – primarily LinkedIn – to find, contact and keep in touch with relevant candidates. Those without a LinkedIn profile are seen as less credible.”

The online revolution means it’s never been easier – or quicker – to seek out and talk to candidates, while vetting their past is little more than a google away. For job-hunters, job aggregators and social media channels are a quick, simple and universally accepted way of searching for roles.

Market demands

James Lesner says, “More and more companies are beginning to build their own internal recruitment or talent teams – meaning they can source candidates directly for a large percentage of roles rather than use recruitment agencies. Recruitment consultancies are therefore becoming more niche and focusing more time on building relationships with groups of skilled candidates that the market is calling out for – such as iOS and Android mobile developers.”

This involves getting to grips with a new industry and having a thorough understanding of the niche skills it requires to ensure the correct candidates are on the books. Often, growth can be overnight as digital companies acquire new contracts, so it’s also vital to be able to source the right spec candidates at a moment’s notice.

The right package

Attracting the best candidates used to be all about paying top dollar. Not anymore. Today’s top candidates are far more likely to place work/life balance at the top of their list. This means having the option of flexible working hours, part-time roles and other benefits. In fact, since June 2014, all employees have had the right to request flexible working hours from the employer.

Candidates are also more choosy about the type of company they work for – showing the importance of the ‘right’ company branding. Rather than mass emailing their CV to every potential employer, top candidates tend to find a few companies they connect with and keep an eye on job openings within those companies.

Surviving the recession

Post 2008, the recruitment industry suffered as the UK descended into one of the deepest recessions in history. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed and more than a million people lost their jobs as a result. Recruitment was one of the first budgets to be cut as businesses postponed new hires or avoided them entirely to cut costs.

The industry profits took a temporary dip, but by 2012/2013, total recruitment industry turnover had reached £26.5 billion – almost back to the pre-recession peak of £27 billion, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC’s) Recruitment Industry Trends Survey. However, headcount didn’t recover at the same pace – there were just 93,610 people working in the recruitment industry in 2012/2013, compared to a pre-recession figure of 108,833.

The rise of the freelancer

More and more people are choosing to work on a freelance basis, to retain control of their own working lives. The latest Office for National Statistics figures show that independent professionals now make up 14.7% of the UK workforce. Michael Willman of Major Players backs this up: their recent survey into salary and market trends shows that freelancers have never had it so good.

Willman reveals, “We’ve seen an increase of 25% in vacancies across the creative, media and marketing sectors combined with lucrative day rates. The majority of freelancers surveyed (41%) earn between £200-£350 a day. We are also seeing the continuation of the so called ‘high-level super freelancers’, with 14% of freelancers surveyed earning £400+ a day.

“In the current climate, our clients see these experts as both a business strategy towards better resourcing and the spark that will drive innovative creativity. Interestingly, the freelance sector is dominated by men (73%), with 48% expressing high levels of confidence in the job market and many more finding consistent confidence (36%).”

While the technological shifts and emerging market trends in recruitment are monumental, no social network can replace the need to meet candidates in person and no psychometric test can truly judge how well a person ‘fits’ a specific company. The role of the recruitment consultant is as important as ever. Technology must be used alongside, not instead of, human interaction. And that’s something that will never change.


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