The Top Recruitment Trends for 2018

Staffing and Recruiting Trends

What are the top trends that are shaping the recruitment industry in 2018? What do recruitment pros see as top priorities? Opportunities? Obstacles? For the eighth consecutive year, we asked and you answered: More than 1,400 recruitment professionals worldwide, from firms of all sizes operating in all sectors, weighed in with their thoughts on the current recruitment landscape.

They shared their outlook on future performance and revenue growth, top priorities and challenges for 2018, and their outlook on the economy and technology.

Here are just a few of the many key takeaways from the 2018 UK Recruitment Trends Report: The Industry’s Outlook for 2018. Get your copy of the full report here.

Optimism for 2018 (Within Reason)

Recruitment professionals are expecting big things for 2018, but they’re keeping their expectations grounded, compared to past years. Seventy-seven percent of respondents expect to see their revenue increase in 2018 over the past year, notably down from the 86 percent figure from last year.

This grounded optimism is reflected in other predictions as well. Only 31 percent expect to increase their margins. On the plus side, expectations for increased hiring needs are higher than last year, with 61 percent anticipating an increase.

What’s changed?  One possible explanation is a dip in confidence about the current economy and business climate. A full 69 percent of respondents are very or somewhat concerned about the rate of economic growth and 70 percent are concerned about the impact Brexit will have on their business.

Candidate Experience Matters (But Who’s Responsible?)

The candidate experience is arguably more important than ever. Why? Recruitment agencies have an unprecedented incentive to make their candidates happy. Candidate-related concerns dominate the results of the survey. Candidate acquisition is again one of the top three priorities for recruitment agencies (41 percent say it’s a top priority), and the talent shortage is once again the top challenge for recruitment professionals (52 percent). Perhaps most alarmingly, only 13 percent of respondents redeploy at least half of their candidates. In all these cases, an improved candidate experience can have a dramatic positive impact.

If you do decide to prioritise the candidate experience (and you should), who’s responsible? Respondents have mixed views. Fifty-one percent say individual recruiters are responsible and 42 percent say it’s a shared responsibility. We side with the 42: delivering a truly rewarding candidate experience is something the whole firm contributes to, regardless of who’s on the front lines with candidates.

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Referrals Are The New King of the Hill

Another reason to focus on the candidate experience? Referrals are critical to your firm’s ability to place new candidates. Referrals from existing candidates jumps to the top of the list as the single best source of talent this year. Nearly 22 percent say referrals are the absolute best source of high-quality talent, and 62 percent place them in their top three. Delivering a great candidate experience can pay off not just for filling a position today, but also for sourcing other candidates in the future via positive referrals.

Referrals are important for growing your client base as well. If you want to bring in new business (11-25% of a typical recruitment agency’s revenue), referrals from happy clients are key. How should you best bolster your relationship with existing clients? To keep client relationships going strong, firms cite consistent communication with hiring managers as the best strategy (86 percent), followed by quarterly business reviews (51 percent) and performance scorecards (38 percent).

Don’t sleep on the value of customer satisfaction. Although it was last year’s number one metric, customer satisfaction fell to third place this year on the top metrics used to measure the recruiting/recruitment delivery process, behind fill rate and hit rate. While production numbers are important for profitability (the top priority for recruitment agencies in 2018), you’ll be able to sustain that success only by delivering an incredible customer experience.

No One Can Agree on GDPR

GDPR is fast approaching, so how do recruitment agencies feel about it? And what are their expectations?

The results are predictably mixed. Twenty percent of respondents think GDPR is all bark and no bite, with the expectation that it’ll have no impact. To quote one respondent, “It is irrelevant. It’s legislation that will have little to no impact on anyone. Except for lawyers.” 

An equal number of respondents anticipate a negative impact, saying that GDPR will make it harder for their agency to achieve future revenue/growth goals. A slightly larger group (24 percent) believe GDPR will bring positive change to the industry. Finally, 36 percent don’t know what to think. If you’re in this camp, you can check out our GDPR resources here.

Expectations are not uniform across the board, however. Temporary/contract agencies are much more positive than the rest of the industry; just 12 percent predict a negative impact, compared to 21 percent of permanent placement agencies and 33 percent of executive search agencies.

Whether you’re expecting good things, bad things, or nothing at all to come from GDPR, it is indisputably arriving soon. Are you prepared? If you are, you’re ahead of the curve. From a one to a five (with one representing no preparation), the average respondents self-rates as 2.8.  

2018 looks to be a pivotal and profitable year for recruitment agencies poised to handle the challenges ahead. Are you ready to be proactive—about owning the candidate experience, embracing new technology, and making new ground? This year will be your chance to find out.

Want more insight on the trends, priorities, and challenges recruitment pros say they’re facing in the year ahead? Read the full report and learn more about the opportunity that lies ahead for your firm in 2018.

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