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 New Zealand 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 of the recruiters SEEK Insights & Resources spoke to 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. If companies can do it for themselves on generalist jobs, it follows that recruiters need to focus on where they can add value to the process.

“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.”

Specialisation is the key


All our interviewees stressed the need for recruiters to become very focused and knowledgeable in certain areas, in order to deliver maximum value to clients. Grant Burley, Director of AbsoluteIT, has found his company’s niche in IT.

“IT in New Zealand employs over 90,000 people, but demand for IT staff is growing every year,” he says. “Technology candidates don’t just rely on one recruiter – they get on SEEK NZ and discover us.”

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.                                                  

“Companies don’t have the time to talent pool the fast emerging or specialist roles, such as business transformation or marketing analytics,” says Tony Pownall, General Manager of Hudson New Zealand. “There are new software development skills emerging all the time.”

“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.”
Pownall raises the importance of recruiters understanding transferrable skills, as a way of remaining relevant into the future.

“New Zealand is a small market, with a smaller talent pool. In a candidate-short function, you have to try harder, or look to transferrable skills. We bounce off the edge of the talent pool more quickly, and so we need to be more creative in attracting people, or more willing to find that transferable skill set.”

A candidate-centred approach


Pownall sees a key challenge for future recruiters is that candidates don’t want to be looking for their next job – they want the jobs to come to them.

“The use of predictive modeling of behaviours to put relevant new opportunities in front of employees at the right time is a trend that will accelerate. SEEK is already doing this with its predictive behaviour algorithms, looking at things like the length of time someone will spend in a role.”

Think global, act local


As more and more workers move away from permanent employment and towards contract work, John Harland, Director of ERG Recruitment Group, predicts that in 10 years, recruiters will become talent managers, much like an actors’ agency.

“Companies don’t have capacity to hold a pool of talent, because they won’t be using them all the time,” he says. “As a recruiter, you’ll have to do this, or go out of business. Traditional recruitment will become five to 10% of the business, focused mostly on middle management.”

Burley stresses that while the big players lump New Zealand in with Australia, a company’s local knowledge can give them a competitive advantage into the future. “We produce local reports, and the feedback from clients is that these reports are relevant, and identify their business challenges.”

The wider economy


In the future, recruiters will have to grapple with more general issues of the global economy. Ever increasing migration, with migrants not necessarily bringing the right skills with them, will become an issue. “Also, it’s more difficult for companies – and recruiters – to authenticate their skills and qualifications,” says Harland. “Technology can’t deal with this.”

“It used to be difficult to get candidates to relocate to New Zealand, but less so now,” says Burley. “New Zealand is considered a safe place, with a stable economy and a great lifestyle, well promoted by the tourism industry.”

Harland points out that many of New Zealand’s SMEs are run by baby boomers, who are looking to retire or sell their businesses within the next 10 years. “My fear is that many of these businesses will close. This represents a problem, but also an opportunity for recruiters wanting to fill the gap.”

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’.

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