The recruitment industry in a decade – what does it look like?



Recently, we looked at how technology is disrupting the recruitment industry, and how recruiters can respond to this. But the revolution that these developments have brought to the industry is surely not over.


So we asked four key players in the Australian recruitment market to gaze into their crystal balls and predict what’s ahead for recruitment firms over the next decade.

The role of tech


All our interviewees were in agreement that developments in technology, and the growing sophistication of people data, is making it easier for companies to recruit to general roles, without the need for recruiters.

“Companies now see limited value in recruitment firms for generalist roles, because ‘tools of the trade’, like SEEK, are available,” says Dean Davidson, Hudson’s Executive General Manger for Australia and New Zealand. “But clients are less effective at filling specialist role families, in areas such as technology, project services and development applications.” It’s here where recruiters can continue to add value into the future.

“The more a job requires unique capabilities, the harder they are to define and identify,” says Florian Dehne, Head of Strategy at SEEK Employment. “In the future, the proportion of roles in the workforce requiring unique capabilities will further increase, and recruiters play a role in unpicking the nuanced information used in these situations.”

Tech and the candidate


Lindsey Ruth, the Adecco Group’s Head of Marketing for Australia and New Zealand, believes that the next wave of tech will involve applications that change the way candidates look for a job, and ultimately change the candidate experience for the positive.

“The recruitment industry is currently shifting from being more client-focused to being heavily candidate-focused, due to the market conditions, and the fact that candidates have many employment options. Now, our challenge is to attract quality candidates, whereas five years ago, we were much more focused on attracting new clients.”

Art and science                                


While companies may find it increasingly easy to source their own recruitment data, there will always be a place for respected opinions on candidates.

“Companies make a hiring decision based on ‘science’ – skills and experience – and ‘art’ – behaviours, traits, interpersonal skills, “ says David Jones, Senior Managing Director at Robert Half. “As of yet, the ‘art’ hasn’t been digitised.”

“The more specific you get, the smaller the candidate pool becomes,” says Davidson. “This is where the value of recruitment firms come in, as this is what clients are prepared to invest and pay for.”

Changing skill sets


The speed at which skill sets are changing in any job involving technology will always present an opportunity for the savvy recruiter.                                                  

“We see a continued growth of skill shortages in areas that involve creativity and problem solving, and skills involving bringing people together,” says Dehne. “While high level people data will make it easier to identify ‘highly plausible’ candidates, recruiters will continue to play a role in creating the connection for this kind of placement.”

A candidate-centred approach


With quality candidates for specialist roles being in high demand into the future, recruiters – and employers – will have to adjust to the idea that candidates will be much more in the driving seat. With buzzwords like ‘cultural fit’, ‘soft skills’, and ‘meta-qualifications’, the pressure will be on companies to prove they’re a good fit for the candidate, rather than the other way around.

“A quality candidate is all about the right fit,” says Ruth. “Someone who can execute in the role, but will approach the role with a degree of ‘passion’ – not a word you would have seen in job ads until recently – and ‘independence’ – they want to be like an entrepreneur within a company.”

What recruiters won’t do


A current trend that Davidson sees extending into the future is that of clients placing a high value on recruiters being very clear about what they’re NOT doing.

“The key is giving clients advice on cost and time-effective ways of filling generalist roles, and getting clarity on what they see as their niche specialist roles. Therefore, agencies need to align their resources with businesses’ specialist roles.”
“The more you specialise, the more knowledge you’ll have, and so the more value you can add for the companies you work with,” says Jones.

Repositioning what recruiters do


One way that Robert Half is ensuring its continued relevance into the future is by positioning itself in the space traditionally occupied by the global consulting groups. “For example, a company involved in a transformation project would typically engage a consulting company to provide resources,” says Jones.

“However, unlike the consulting groups, the talent that Robert Half can provide is not restricted to our permanent employee group alone. We have access to a wider range of consultants and candidates known to us in the market, representing a significant advantage to our clients.”

Importantly, recruiters have to ask themselves if they intend swimming ‘upstream’ or ‘downstream’ in their value proposition. “Today, we are able to provide consulting resources with oversight and a level of quality assurance that offers clients an alternative to the established consulting firms, whether they be global or regionalised.”

The future’s bright…


“In my experience, recruiters are good at reinventing themselves,” says Dehne. “They have demonstrated in the past that they are flexible, and have an ability to adapt their business models when the external environment changes. For those that operate with that nous and attitude, the future clearly is bright!”


To learn more about how recruiters can stay future-fit in a disrupting world, listen to a SEEK podcast with the founder of recruitment firm Davidson, Rob Davidson, on ‘The future world of work and what it means for the recruitment industry’.