The recruiter of the future

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Streamlining job applications, improving diversity and filling flexible roles are some key trends for recruitment in the 2020s


Recruiting for a role in the 2020s can be like devising and running a marketing campaign. In today’s candidate-driven job market, companies have to intelligently sell themselves to attract top talent. They need to create a proposition their competitors can’t match. And, just as the marketing industry has been well and truly digitised, advances in recruitment tech and HR software now give recruiters tools for not only widening the candidate search, but making the hiring process more of a positive experience for potential employees.

Just as marketeers are constantly evolving their approach, the modern-day recruiter is having to adapt their strategies for winning over candidates. The recruiter of the future will serve clients best by presenting their company as a forward-thinking, relevant place to work – even if that means feeding back about where they’re falling short – and using the innovation at hand to enhance the hiring process, both for the client and the candidate.

For example, recent research from Glassdoor shows there’s quite a way to go in making job applications more smartphone-friendly – apparently mobile users only complete about 22% of applications they start (compared to 47% using a desktop computer). And according to the World Advertising Research Centre, 73% of the global population will access the internet exclusively via their smartphone in five years’ time. So recruiters need to assess how sticky their client’s application process is (the first impression a candidate gets of their new potential employer) and modernise any out-of-date processes or portals that are putting talent off the application process.

Investment in HR tech is growing rapidly. In 2018, $4bn (£3.1bn) was invested in HR technology (quadruple the amount in 2017). This shows how companies are increasingly coming round to the benefits of using technology to not only reach more potential candidates, but also to make the hiring experience more relevant to jobseekers, and iron out any kinks that can turn them off. 

In the 2020s, forward-thinking recruiters are also thinking about diversity strategies. From the client’s point of view, workplace diversity is not only an important ethical choice – it’s a competitive advantage. Forward-thinking clients recognise that a diverse team brings a wider range of skills and experiences, and broadens the company’s perspective (in essence, a team should reflect the modern world and the company’s customers). According to PwC, 85% of CEOs say that having more diverse teams has improved the bottom line, while Glassdoor says 67% of jobseekers feel diversity is an important factor when considering a company. This decade, we will see recruiters fine-tune methods for improving the diversity of their clients’ teams in a meaningful way, and also in communicating their inclusive workplace culture to candidates.

Having a flexible working culture in place is one step towards increasing workplace diversity. Granting employees more freedom over where and how they work removes the barriers to employment faced by certain demographics – including disabled people, young parents, older generations and carers. What’s more, the companies that demonstrate they trust employees to best manage their own workload and productivity will appear attractive and more people-centric than those who don’t. 

An increasing number of companies is truly taking this on board, and flexible working is becoming the new normal. And so it’s likely that recruitment professionals will find themselves recruiting for flexible working schedules more frequently. This will mean being strategic about whether full-time hires are needed for a particular role, or whether clients would be wise to opt for a short-term one instead (boosting the turnaround time of a hire, too). The flexible-working revolution will not only open up job opportunities for more candidates – it will also allow recruiters to work faster, be more agile and save their clients money on staffing costs.

Finally, as we begin the 2020s, recruiters are realising that employee benefits are not just about money. There’s a real opportunity for recruiters to help clients outshine the competition and appear more relevant to candidates. As time goes on, we’re likely to see recruiters going beyond salary negotiations to persuading clients to offer benefits that help staff achieve a better work/life balance, focus on wellbeing, and help save time.


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