Back to Blog

Recruiting in Belgium; trends and opportunities

by on

Now the labour market is overheating again, recruiting is hot topic. According to Textkernel*) research, over 330,000 unique vacancies were posted online in the first quarter of this year. How can top talent in the Belgian market be reached, what trends can be discovered and how can employers and agencies distinguish themselves successfully on the job market? We asked influencers and inspiring people in the market to give their opinion. In this interview Nick Vinckier, digital and social media expert shares his insights.

What trends can you see in recruitment in Belgium?

#1 Recruitment and marketing are lagging
“I’m a true marketer and I noticed HR experiences the same thing as marketing: they’re lagging in the market. The message does not meet the needs of the target audience. There’s a big mismatch between the offered content and the needs of the potential candidate, which makes it difficult to get talent into the funnel. Of course, the consumer, and therefore the candidate, is always evolving faster than marketing and recruitment can keep up at a steady pace, but right now the gap is simply too big. Look at Snapchat; an enormous hype among young people. And yet, it’s so little used for recruitment. An improvement is needed. Responding more to the experience of candidates and involving them more in personal contacts, marketing communications and social media channels.

The same thing happened with the rise of LinkedIn. LinkedIn made it possible for every employer to become a recruiter. Everyone became focused on searching and posting vacancies on LinkedIn. But to be truly successful in the market, much more is needed than just that. It’s time recruiters become enlightened. Not based on themselves, but being aware of ‘what’s in it for my candidate’. And based on this, you’ll be able to start a meaningful relationship with them. Content marketing can play an important role in this matter.”

#2 Supporting departments slow down the business
“Right now, you can see enabling departments such as Purchasing, HR, IT, legal affairs and their guidelines and processes are slowing down the business rather than supporting it. It shouldn’t be that way. Successful organisations always set the business first and translate this into all departments.

For example, if a promising candidate presents him or herself, you need to be able to act quickly. Too often we see application processes take an unnecessarily long time because too many departments want to make their voices heard. This could cost you valuable candidates. In addition, the business should be able to take risks. For example, suppose Marketing is looking for unique growth hacking profiles and the ideal candidate does not pass the personality test. Then the business should be able to overrule this. You have to be able to take a gamble every now and then.”

How can you distinguish yourself as an employer/agency?

“As an agency, transform your organisation minded approach into a client minded approach. Agencies need to evolve from vendor to partner. Focus on the needs of the customer and think about how you could add value with your expertise. Establish mutual goals and work from equality to achieve those goals.

For employers, it’s important to invest heavily in their employees. In my opinion, the focus on employees is far more important than the focus on customers. When your employees are satisfied and feel involved with the organisation, this immediately translates into a higher level of commitment and a greater customer focus. A great example of employee focussing is Belgian shoe company Schoenen Torfs. This family business is highly valued by the employees and this is noticeable in many ways. Employee well-being is even, in addition to EBITDA, one of the most important KPIs.”

How do you reach top talents in the market?

#1 Set the bar high
“You have to offer talents a challenge which is higher than the standard they set for themselves. Many companies are struggling with this, mainly because they don’t challenge themselves enough. Give high potentials the boost they’re looking for. Challenge, growth and development are often much more important than salary, for example. Fit your organisation in this direction; make the most out of each other’s qualities and possibilities. If you’re able to create an attractive story around that, beautiful things will happen.”

#2 Have a meaningful mission
“The best examples of challenging missions are the well-known American startups such as Netflix, Google and Amazon. They show courage and have challenging missions to change the world. This appeals. Top talents want to commit themselves to a meaningful mission. This motivates people more than, for example, increasing turnover by 10%. Why, and what is your goal once this one has been achieved? This disruptive mission is the main reason why top performers commence with startups. In larger organisations, they’re slowed down by the structures, while at a startup they can exert all their influence to achieve big things.”

#3 Offer mentorship
“Work occupies a completely different position in people’s lives than ever before. Employees want to be challenged, develop themselves and learn from others. Offer mentorships from experienced professionals, allow colleagues to learn from each other and provide room for training and personal and professional development.”


Facebook motivates her employees with a challenging mission.


What role does recruiting technology play?

“Technology and people should work together to bring out the best in each other. Technology plays an important role in terms of efficiency. It should make people’s jobs easier and can take over all tasks that are repetitive, taxing, boring and/or unnecessarily time-consuming. Employees can then focus on meaningful matters. Like giving human attention. Think about what that would mean for your client, your candidate and your colleague.”

Where do employers/agencies slip?

“There’s far too much push marketing being deployed. Mass mailings, standardized LinkedIn messages. A ‘one size fits all’ approach, which completely overlooks the real personal contact. Candidates are approached aggressively and that does not work at all for high potentials. Just look at all IT professionals who are removing their LinkedIn profiles because they’re fed up with spamming. What does work is engaging promising talent in dialogue. Ask talents personal questions. What are their needs? How do they see the future? How would they fit into your organisation? How can you improve each other? Such a respectful approach works much better than the one-way traffic we still often see.”

How do you see the future?

“We’re all becoming more and more internationalised. We’re growing closer together thanks to technology. I’m convinced that there are major changes to come. I often compare it to a tsunami. First there’s a small wave, which floods the beach and then retreats. Then people take their place on the beach as if nothing has happened. But then, after a period of apparent rest, comes the great, all-embracing wave, and nothing will be as it was.”

“Look at the music industry, for instance. With the advent of technology came the possibility of downloading music. The earning model of artists came under pressure, things as piracy and the music service Napster arose. In response to this wave, laws that banned piracy were introduced and people were reassured. But technology doesn’t let anything get in its way, and here’s the new reality, in which music is available everywhere and anytime via streaming.

In HR, I also expect a tsunami like that. Many developments are already ongoing. LinkedIn used to be the disruptor. Now you see developments like Indeed, Google For Jobs and Microsoft Watson. The fact that things are going to change is a certainty, it’s just the question how you, as an organisation, deal with this.”

About Nick Vinckier

Nick-VinckierNick Vinckier calls himself a neophile; a lover of everything that the new ‘digital’ world has to offer. He’s a digital consultant at Duval Union Consulting. He helps customers to build effective digital and/or social media strategies. He has also been active as a speaker in subjects such as digitisation and social media for many years. Recently he was closing keynote speaker at the Graduation Fair of the Ghent University Association, the largest graduation fair in Belgium, which connects students and employers.

Nick’s motto: “the glass is not half full nor half empty; I’m always looking for ideas to get the glass filled up again”.


*) You can find the Textkernel research about the Belgian job market here.