Will 2018 see the recruitment industry sink, or swim?
Will 2018 see the recruitment industry sink, or swim?

Will 2018 see the recruitment industry sink, or swim?

Posted on: 23/01/2018

This article first appeared in Recruitment Grapevine, 15th January 2018

Client needs are changing. If we don't keep up, we'll become redundant

by Nick Dettmar, CEO, Outsource UK

New Year, new you, so the old saying goes. As part of this mantra, many individuals will be thinking about a career change – be it a promotion, a new direction or finally pursuing a lifelong dream. Part of this will involve the dreaded dusting off of the CV, and contacting recruiters to talk through making the next step. At the same time, we’ll have clients sending through their talent needs, and the cycle begins.

Or that used to be the process.

But times are changing. We as an industry are faced with a shifting landscape, with new trends altering the way we work, and how we place candidates. In my view, 2018 could be a landmark year where these evolving needs result in a sink or swim for recruiters. We need to change, there’s no denying it, but those who stay behind the curve risk alienating clients and market share.

But what areas need addressing, to help us as an industry remain strategic partners to our clients, instead of last resorts in the search for talent? Below I have outlined the critical areas I see as key to our future:

Sell the sizzle AND the steak

Buying trends always seems an odd way to describe candidate placement, but there has been a noticeable shift over the past few years of how companies are recruiting talent. No longer are we the go-to for bringing in new blood – the polarisation of buying trends has seen us move to the extreme edges of the recruitment scale – with our value now seen in outcome based recruiting or niche placements. The fact of the matter is companies have become more accomplished at direct recruiting – with tools like LinkedIn helping to quickly and cost effectively (in some instances) cut out the middle man. Yes, they lose our consultation and expertise, but for some placements, clients do not see the need for this. Rather than fighting the inevitability of this, we need to find our place in this new world order and work out how we integrate our services with our customers’ direct sourcing capabilities.

We are seeing clients increasingly turn to us when they need either scale or specialist insight. As sector specialists, we know that sometimes clients need to find the needle in the haystack, and that’s when they come to us. Our value is highlighted when we can streamline applicants for clients and consult on specific skill areas or personality attributes. Our clients want more than a skill set, they want to know that the people they hire will enhance their culture and derive value for their business. This consultative, hand crafted approach is how recruiters need to evolve to demonstrate value time after time, thereby cementing ourselves as strategic partners. Once this integration is complete and it’s clear how our services compliment any in house capabilities it makes it easier to work more closely with the client – therefore achieving both the sizzle and the steak.

Clutching at laws

Legislation is ever-changing and for many HRs, directors of talent or SME owners, keeping on top of personnel or contractor-related regulations is too much. We saw when the IR35 changes were implemented within the public sector that it caused confusion, and with the possibility a private sector version coming, recruiters have a valuable role to play in advising clients on specific needs or actions. From advice on contracts through to what sort of candidate should be recruited in the first place, we can help allay client fears and cement strong bonds. The more questions the better, as the more we can help, the more value the client gets and therefore prizes the relationship.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a prime example of this. Despite legislation coming in May this year, many firms of all sizes are woefully unprepared. They don’t have personal data processes in place or good governance and security to protect it. Part of our role, is to advise on issues such as this and make recommendations on how processes can be enhanced. Be it how CVs are stored though to contact details for old employees, talking clients through these processes again helps us demonstrate our knowledge and erase the notion that we’re simply here to place a candidate and run off with the commission. This concept is not only unfair but it’s also insulting, so changing clients’ minds one call at a time can help us.

With the advent of GDPR and other legislation, compliance will be a burdensome issue for clients moving forwards. This goes the whole way down the supply chain, and educating clients on the supplier risks from tiers one to one hundred helps position us as forward thinking. For example, with GDPR, a way many companies’ cybersecurity is compromised is being hacked via the ‘back door’ – i.e. a supplier getting hacked and hackers thereby gaining valuable insight into another company in the process. We as recruiters are included in the supply chain, so presenting the threats and demonstrating our compliance whilst offering advice on how clients can in turn be safe goes a long way in cementing our place as strategic advisers.


We’ve seen the media attention this year around diversity, and with many clients becoming more socially responsible, we expect more recruitment campaigns centred on this issue. At Outsource UK, we offer a wide spectrum of services encouraging a fair recruitment process; enabling firms to look inwardly to then take action. Recruiters should not be thought of at the middle stage of the process, we can help from stage one. This is an issue which has rightly been raised and will not go away, so we as an industry should be urging our clients to be representative of the people they’re selling to.

Recruitment as an industry should never become redundant as we provide too much value. However, as seen by the changing landscape there is more to be done to cement our strategic relationships with clients as they perceive perhaps they’re not getting the value they should be, and in frustration are moving to recruit directly. This should be the year we look to change this. It’s time to take action and work with clients, to not only help them achieve their goals, but ours too.


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