The coronavirus pandemic has re-written the rules on what it means to lead a recruitment company through hard times, with economic impact frequently compared to the two World Wars.
Businesses have been forced to adapt in unprecedented ways, and make full use of every available resource to stay afloat.
Amid the crisis, much has been made of the role of technology and its vital ability to keep the economy moving.
Looking through a digital lens, what has been the impact on recruitment software and how is it being used by leading agencies?
The current business climate is as close as it gets to a ‘perfect storm’ for most recruitment businesses.
As furlough schemes wind up, an ever-larger pool of available applicants is flooding the market, making things difficult not only for agencies but creating intense competition among job-seekers and a selection headache of epic proportions for employers.
Attempting to make sense of the chaos, and – critically – continue to deliver value-add staffing services has never been more challenging, and for plenty of business owners the goal of the months ahead has switched from growth to survival.
While trying to walk the tightrope between managing cashflow and saving jobs, agency owners have had to make tough call after tough call to ensure that there is a business to come back to for staff members after lockdown measures are fully lifted and government subsidies dry up.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however, and resourceful agencies are taking the initiative to upgrade their services or pivot how they support clients in a bid to seize opportunity where it presents itself.
Agencies who mix training and assessment with their staffing line, for instance, are capitalising on an upswell of demand for online credentials and certifications, with candidates in highly competitive sectors looking to adapt their skill sets as they search for employment.
From cabin crew to schoolteacher and plenty more, stories abound of professionals re-tooling their capabilities to fit into a changing jobs market.
Similarly, agencies who have the tools to be able to switch their search focus from one sector to another have found ways to service existing customers bases despite shifting needs.
Those whose capabilities are shackled within a narrow world of LinkedIn connections and niche-market CV databases, without the resources to search more broadly, have found the transition tougher to make.
The digital advantage
The glut of applicants is also causing filtering nightmares for high-volume hiring employers, as well as leading to a deafening ‘noise’ of record-numbers of irrelevant or unqualified candidates for high-skill vacancies.
To solve the issue, agencies with robust recruitment technology platforms are able to search better, faster and more comprehensively than their rivals, using an advanced digital toolkit to screen out B-grade applicants and zero in on those with the experience and skills to land roles amid record levels of competition.
In such times, the ability to go beyond traditional CV-mining and pull data from multiple sources, including company websites or social media, gives recruiters the chance to collate detailed candidate profiles at a pace their competitors can’t match.
Reacting to the pressure
Though there are continual shoots of green emerging as the economy takes teetering steps on the long road to recovery, the unpalatable reality remains – never has it been so easy for HR departments and internal talent teams to fill the bulk of their roles.
The reduced hiring volume and lower number of jobs available, coupled with the wealth of direct applications on offer, means only the most effective recruiters who consistently add value will thrive over the coming months.
Even they will have to work for it – pushing themselves month in, month out to find ways to meet client needs and maintain their partner status.
And, more often than not, it’s the businesses with advanced technology capabilities who have the edge.
Those who can move fastest to react to change, switching focus or ways of working, succeed in challenging business climates where less agile businesses operating more traditional models often stumble.
As the uncertainty around the future climate of the recruitment and staffing sector persists, it’s clear that agencies with a strong digital advantage will retain the upper hand over their competitors.