Recruitment agencies that saw the highest growth in 2022 leveraged automation and digitisation

Bullhorn’s annual global recruitment survey found the agencies with the highest revenue gains were twice as likely to use these technologies as those who saw revenue losses

SYDNEY, 1 March 2023 – While most staffing and recruitment agencies saw growth in 2022, certain practices were more likely to separate those who saw the highest gains in revenue from those who suffered revenue losses. Agencies with the highest revenue gains were twice as likely to have digitised their data as those with the greatest revenue losses and nearly twice as likely to use automation heavily, according to Bullhorn’s Global Recruitment Insights and Data (GRID) 2023 Industry Trends Report

Most (84%) recruitment agencies in the APAC region have begun implementing a digital transformation strategy, ahead of the global average of 77%.

However, many are still in the early stages. Only 30% said they use self-service technologies such as chatbots to streamline operations and engage candidates, and only 16% heavily leverage automation throughout their business. 

More than half (59%) of APAC recruitment agencies reported an increase in revenue last year, while a higher number (65%) expect to improve again in 2023. Both numbers are slightly below the global average. 

Acquiring new candidates remains the top priority

Perhaps given the severe impact of talent shortages, APAC recruitment agencies again cite acquiring new candidates (39%) as this year’s top priority. The second biggest priority is winning new clients (34%), followed closely by digital transformation (33%).  

Despite feeling optimistic about their business growth prospects, APAC recruitment agencies continue to face client-related challenges. The most pressing is an increase in job requisitions that are too specialised or demanding (according to 23% of respondents), followed by a reduction in overall job requisitions (21%), and a lack of communication from clients (14%). 

Engaging existing talent leads to higher revenue gains

For APAC recruitment agencies, candidate acquisition remains a challenge: 59% cite the talent shortage as a top challenge in 2023, compared to the global average of 56%. However, agencies that followed certain best practices in engaging candidates were 30% or more likely to report revenue gains in 2022, according to the global survey results. These best practices include engaging with passive candidates in the agency’s database, soliciting referrals from candidates, and using candidates’ preferred methods of communication, among others.

The two practices most correlated with success worldwide were redeploying candidates and database utilisation. The firms that lined up the highest proportion of workers for new roles before the end of their assignments and those that most frequently filled a position with a candidate already in their database were twice as likely to report revenue gains last year and 50% more likely to expect gains in 2023. However, fewer than 10% of firms use automation to redeploy candidates. 

Aaron McIntosh, Managing Director, APAC, at Bullhorn, comments: “Recruitment agencies are cautiously navigating a historic talent shortage, evolving candidate expectations, and fierce competition. A clear commitment to accelerating digital transformation plans will go a long way in addressing both client- and candidate-related challenges, as well as future-proofing businesses to thrive in an environment of constant change.”

“The agencies that excel in 2023 will be those that provide an exceptional talent experience, double down on sales and marketing, and use their technology investments as a tool to differentiate themselves from the competition.”  

Bullhorn will share more key insights and examples from the report at today’s Engage Sydney event. 

Read the full report here.

About Bullhorn

Bullhorn is the global leader in software for the staffing industry. More than 10,000 companies rely on Bullhorn’s cloud-based platform to power their staffing processes from start to finish. Headquartered in Boston, with offices around the world, Bullhorn is founder-led and employs more than 1,600 people globally. 

To learn more, visit or follow @Bullhorn on Twitter.