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How Covid-19 will affect the recruitment industry

Posted on 18/02/2021
by Nick Boulton

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Even before the Covid pandemic hit, it felt like the recruitment industry had slowly started to change. A lot of the old school, boiler room type environments were disappearing fast, and if they weren’t on their way out already, Covid’s economic crisis finished off the last of them.

And frankly, good riddance to them.

We all know at least one of those consultants still yearning for the “good old days” where call numbers were worn like a badge of honour and managing to “get one by your client” was met with fist-pumping, chest-beating and bell ringing. I still remember being told “smile while you dial” and hearing stories of friends at other recruitment business having their seats taken away and their phones cello taped to their hands until they had made 100 calls.

Can you imagine the look of horror on the faces of today’s generation if you took away their Eurotech Nuvem and told them to dial faster? You’d have HR, legal and all manner of animal cruelty activists slapping you with warnings, harassment suits and injunctions.

(Still, it would be worth it just for the look on their little faces.)

All joking aside, the changes to the recruitment industry are long overdue. We owe a small (minute) debt of gratitude to this pandemic for accelerating a lot of these.

I’ve always thought of Client Server as a progressive, forward-thinking consultancy but I think the changes we have embraced over the last 12 months are here to stay and will only make us stronger and better for it.

Depending on which social media or information outlet you subscribe to, recruitment has been a dying trade for years. With the invention of a multitude of “free”— just a note, nothing is free – online platforms or the plethora of “onsite models” that have sprung up over the last few years claiming to be the next big thing. Correction, the RPO model has been around before most of the founders of those businesses were even out of nappies.

So nothing new or revolutionary is being invented to quash the scourge of filthy recruiters peddling their wares.

Recruitment is just evolving and with it creating competition and improving standards, hallelujah!

I’m sorry to disappoint you if you were hoping the pandemic would rid the world of recruiters. Far from it. Businesses are only becoming more reliant on the best recruitment consultancies—especially in the technology or life science industries, where you need an incredibly in-depth knowledge of your market and chosen field to be successful. A business will always require the services of a trusted recruitment partner if they want to hire the best people in cost and time-efficient manner.

What positive changes have we seen – and I see taking effect – within our industry?

  • Flexible working – Recruitment has always been the slowest to adopt this, but I genuinely feel this is a game-changer for retaining the best people. Usually burnt out recruiters would drift off into internal or on-site roles but now having the flexibility to WFH a few days a week will mean a better work-life balance and people really embracing recruitment as a career - something that was starting to happen anyway. Also, this will be a big driver to keep more women in recruitment. No longer do they need to choose between a career in recruitment and a family, they will now be able to do both.

  • More Consultative Agencies – We have been banging the “consultancy” drum for years. I truly believe that to really thrive in our industry, you can’t just be the “Panda of recruitment” (Eats shoots and leaves? No? Too weird an analogy?) Clients and candidates want a more valuable recruitment experience and one they can go back to year after year, not just when they need to move jobs or hire. They need salary advice, hiring advice, how to approach reviews or just market intel. Clients should expect more than just a hiring service from their chosen recruitment partner and candidates should expect more than just having their CV sent out.

  • Diversification – Yes I’m sure the agencies who still do a good job of “just doing what it says on the tin” will still survive but the ones to really grow and hoover up market share will be the ones that offer more than just recruitment services.
    • Marketing advice and messaging to potential hires
    • Onboarding strategies - incredibly important when WFH or remote hiring is happening,
    • Staff retention – Vital when people are joining the business and not meeting their peers or manages for months, possibly not even at all.
    • Webinars where hot relevant topics are discussed and information is shared

In short, the recruitment industry is changing and in my opinion for the better, and Client Server will be at the forefront of that change.


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