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Recruitment Leaders debate growth challenges and opportunities

Guest speakers Kevin Green, Chief Executive of the REC, and James Osborne, Elite Recruitment Network, imparted valuable insights to a full room of senior agency representatives, invited by Brabners Chaffe Street, Outsauce, Saffery Champness and RBS.

Growth is great, but brings its own challenges

Green gave an incisive and engaging review of the economy, labour market and recruitment sector.

Contrasting his 2013 speech there was more cause for optimism with the economy growing 3% year on year and the recruitment sector expected to expand 25% in the next three years.

The flexibility of the labour market remains the key to the UK’s successful recovery. However, the emerging skills crisis is still the biggest challenge facing recruiters – clouded by the political issue of immigration and attitudes to work.

The outlook for permanent placements is very strong, but agencies will have to think cleverly about how they communicate their expertise to customers and optimise their social media strategy to perform in a candidate driven market.

Client scrutiny on supply chain efficiencies along with agency competition will continue to put pressure on margins – compounded by heavy handed Government legislation that drains resources and makes it harder for respected agencies to fend against unscrupulous operators.

Models for recruitment success

Green explored three of the most established models for recruitment success, from the & lsquo;inch wide and mile deep’ Specialist that differentiates on expertise and strong relationships with talent, to the Low Cost Operator that generates high volumes to compensate for low margins and competes well on compliance. The third model, dubbed by Green as & lsquo;Traditional Plus’, is a hybrid approach that uses a regional SME focus to keep “lots of eggs in lots of baskets”.

How to become a better agency

James Osborne encouraged attendees to exploit opportunities on the table whilst managing the risk of growth.

He exhorted agencies to & lsquo;eat up’ data from multiple sources, such as the REC Jobs Outlook, and to really understand the market. Expanding on Green’s positive growth data, Osborne said that sector knowledge enables agencies to accurately benchmark themselves against the competition and to set standards based on empirical evidence rather than gut feel.

For instance, if an agency expands at 25% over the next three years it is only growing in line with the market rather than increasing market share.

Recruiting recruiters

The skills shortage will affect recruiters’ internal workforce but agencies aren’t doing enough to attract and retain the right talent. When recruiting, agencies should prioritise character over skills and recognise that achievement is typically a bigger driver than money for their employees.

The industry needs to improve its image, something which Osborne demonstrated this to equally amusing and worrying effect when he presented the results of Googling & lsquo;Recruitment consultants are ’.

Osborne warned against wasting valuable consultant time with unprofitable clients and concluded by asking perhaps the most important question: & lsquo;What are you doing now to create value?’

Recruitment Leaders is a free forum for established agencies and service providers to meet on a regular basis and discuss key sector issues. Following a North West launch, the partners hope to roll the initiative out to multiple regions across the UK.

Join the debate: #RecruitmentLeaders


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