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The Changing Landscape of the Recruitment Sector


A large number of these changes have been caused by digital disruption.  New technology and all forms of social media have provided employers and candidates with greater accessibility to each other.  In turn, this is making the recruitment sector increasingly disinter-mediated.  So, as we move into the second half of this decade, what does the recruitment landscape look like? 

Maturity of Internal Recruitment

Historically, one of the main reasons companies would use a recruitment agency was to expand the reach of their candidate search. Now, with information being so readily accessible to all parties through platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and company job boards, this reasoning holds less value.

This change alongside other market factors has resulted in the sourcing capabilities of larger in-house recruitment teams generally becoming far stronger.  Although interestingly, the volume of jobs advertisements posted directly from employers on Seek,  as opposed to agency, has actually slightly reduced, down to 33.2% from 34.1% in 2010.

Power to Job-Seekers

Similarly, talent is now better able to self-manage their job search, because they also have access to far broader networks. 

Previously, the combined reach of an individual’s personal and professional networks wouldn’t reach far beyond 50 people.  However, due mainly to the rapid uptake of LinkedIn, professionals now mostly have at least 500 directly accessible connections and easy access to everyone else who isn’t a connection.

Network reach isn’t the only change.  Talent can also now research employee reviews of companies they’d like to work for on sites like Glassdoor.  With 70% of candidates worldwide indicating they use social media to assess an employer, it’s highly likely that an increasing number of the candidates you are looking to recruit will be using this data to make a decision on a company early on in the process.  Undertaking targeted networking on MeetUp, and freely engaging with existing company employees on Twitter are both avenues candidates can take to get a fast start in terms of company insight.

A candidate could ostensibly know intimate details on exactly what a role entails, who they could be working for, how much they’ll be paid and what the culture is like, all before they even step foot in the interview room.

The Changing Face of Agencies, for Employers

Because of these factors, recruitment agencies have also found themselves needing to adapt, and to occupy a slightly different position in the recruitment supply chain.  Though their function and methods have never been more similar to internal recruitment teams, agencies still possess some clear defining qualities – the most important of which is specialisation.

The function of agencies has shifted from reaching more candidates to engaging the right ones.  This means that for agencies and agency recruiters, operating as true market specialists is crucial.

The broad availability of talent data has had a knock on effect, with potential candidates now receiving increasing volumes of recruitment noise. Getting engagement is now largely built around trust and reputation, two qualities that take time to build.

The advantage that specialisation provides agency recruiters with, is that they can spend more time working with one particular audience, whereas internal recruiters generally operate across a wider range of portfolios, recruiting a variety of roles within the business.  It should be noted, however, that we have noticed even this changing with some enterprise sized organisations.

The benefits  for agency clients can include, higher responses to job enquiries and also the added ability to generate candidate interest in opportunities the candidate may have previously ignored.   In particular candidates may be more willing to talk in confidence to an agent about a competitor firm than they would be directly to a representative of a competitor firm.  The added and obvious advantage is that, by being extremely close to their specialist market, recruiters are sometimes able to turn up hidden gems, which might not stand out on paper but are excellent candidates in reality.

The Changing Face of Agencies, for Talent

An experienced agency recruiter with specialist expertise can provide talent with significant value.

Top talent  is rarely on the job market for very long.  If approached at the right moment they may be tempted to move, but when it comes to proactively seeking out an opportunity, even using the variety of tools available, it is still a time consuming process.

A recruiters role is, therefore, in some ways, comparable to the role of a Mortgage Broker with banks and consumers.  This is because experienced and specialist recruiters provide talent with relatively easy exposure and access to a diverse range of employers and opportunities.  Plus, talent relies on recruiters as independent career advisors, who are able to offer expert advice to develop their careers.


The shift towards digital has been a major driver for disruption within the recruitment sector.  The roles of the agency recruiter, in-house recruiter, and talent have changed in a big way, so it’s important for all parties to constantly review how they continue to add value to the relationship.

Whether you’re a candidate or employer, we’d like to hear your views on how recruitment agencies can continue to evolve in order to meet market demands. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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