Recruitment in the UK and Ireland: What does 2019 hold?

2019 is bound to be a big year for the recruitment industry; whether you’re concerned with Brexit, or excited about automation, big things are on the horizon. More than 2,000 industry professionals worldwide shared their thoughts and predictions for the year ahead with us. 

Recruitment Industry Outlook

Optimism runs high in the recruitment industry. Expectations for revenue, budgets, investments, and placements in 2019 are all higher than they were heading into 2018.

How do you expect revenue to change in 2019?

Most respondents anticipate an increase in 2019 revenue versus 2018. Just three percent of respondents expect to see revenue decrease in the year ahead.

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A Positive Outlook
Learn more about the industry’s outlook for 2019.

Recruitment professionals say they expect to see temporary placements increase in 2019. Also on the rise? Operating budgets, investments in technology, efforts to increase workers’ skills through education and training, and the percentage of business done through VMS.

How do you expect the following to change in 2019?

Few respondents expect to see decreases in temp placements, budgets, tech spending, efforts to reskill workers, and VMS business.

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Reskilling on the Rise
See why reskilling workers will be top of mind in 2019.

Recruitment leaders have options when it comes to growing their businesses: expand their agencies’ footprint by doing more business with new and current customers; grow quickly by acquiring new companies; or exit their businesses by being acquired by another company. Here’s how most respondents say they’re thinking about strategic growth in 2019.

What’s your business’ primary growth strategy?

Organic growth is the industry’s primary growth strategy in 2019. Only six percent say they expect to grow by acquiring new companies and even fewer (three percent) expect to be acquired.

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Build, Buy, or Exit?
Discover how industry leaders are thinking about their strategic growth options.

Top Priorities for Recruitment Professionals

Aside from the obvious—driving top-line revenue growth and increasing profitability—respondents say they’ll be firmly focused on candidates in 2019. Other priorities on which they’ll focus? The top ranking priorities include embracing digital transformation to improve their operations, developing their employment brand, and enhancing their marketing strategies.

What are your top priorities for 2019?

Candidates will matter most in 2019, with sourcing (55 percent) and candidate engagement (40 percent) leading the pack. Beyond candidates, take a look at some other notable priorities.

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More Top Priorities
See what your peers have to say about their top priorities for 2019.

Top Challenges for Recruitment Professionals

While optimism abounds, the outlook’s not all rosy. From hiring and operational challenges, to the issues macroeconomic and political shifts present, there are plenty of tricky problems recruitment industry pros will have to tackle in 2019.

What are your top hiring challenges for 2019?

Beyond the perennial skills shortage, recruitment leaders consider aspects such as reskilling, the shift to non-traditional labour models, and restrictions on the use of foreign labour, to be some of the top hiring challenges for the year ahead.

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More Top Challenges
Curious about the hiring challenges your peers will confront in 2019? Take a look.

What are your top operational challenges for 2019?

Pricing pressure and margin compression once again rank highly among operational challenges staffing professionals say they’ll face in 2019. Interestingly, however, embracing digital transformation to improve operations outweighed margin concerns, followed by cybersecurity and data protection compliance.

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More Top Challenges
Learn more about the operational challenges your peers say they’ll face in 2019.

What are your top macroeconomic and political challenges for 2019?

If you’re feeling a bit skittish when it comes to future growth amidst an uncertain economy, you’re not alone. Cybersecurity and data protection regulations and restrictions over the use of foreign labour are among the top macroeconomic and political concerns - unsurprising when we consider the recent implementation of GDPR and the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

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More Top Challenges
Discover the macroeconomic and political challenges that recruitment agencies say they’re up against in the year ahead.

Many parts of the recruitment lifecycle can be tough to manage. From sourcing and screening, to interviewing and onboarding, recruiters frequently feel the pain of these processes.

Which part of the recruitment lifecycle is most challenging?

Respondents say sourcing, gathering requirements from clients, and back office administration are the trickiest parts of the recruitment lifecycle.

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More Top Challenges
Learn more about the top challenges respondents say they’ll encounter in 2019.

Technology has transformed how people connect and communicate with each other. Gone are the days when recruiters could simply pick up a phone and reach a candidate. Today, they must embrace generational differences when it comes to communication vehicles and cadence, and adjust their strategies accordingly to stand out in the eyes of candidates.

Talkin’ ‘bout my generation

Recruiters say Millennials are the most difficult generation to reach and engage with, followed by Post-Millenials. The easiest generation to reach and engage? Interestingly, UK and Irish recruiters say Baby Boomers.

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More Top Challenges
Discover the top challenges respondents say they’ll face in 2019.

For years, we’ve been hearing about talent shortages and how they’re a top challenge for the industry. In many sectors, it seems like there simply aren’t enough qualified people with the right skills to fill many modern job openings. But just how troublesome are talent shortages? Are they getting any better or worse?  

For better or worse?

When asked if they think skills shortages are better or worse now compared to five years ago, more than half (57 percent) said they’re getting worse.

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More Top Challenges
Learn more about the top challenges respondents say they’ll tackle in 2019.

Brexit and the Future of Recruiting

Despite ongoing negotiations, the UK’s exit from the EU draws ever closer. But how do recruitment pros feel that Brexit will impact their businesses’ ability to achieve future revenue and growth goals?

Certainly uncertain

Whilst the majority of UK and Irish recruitment pros anticipate that Brexit will negatively impact their businesses’ future goals, it is worth noting that a significant number of participants are unsure.

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The Brexit Paradox
Find out more about how recruitment pros really feel about Brexit’s impact on the industry in 2019.

Recruiting Under New Regulations: GDPR

Almost a year has passed since GDPR regulations were enforced, but how do recruitment professionals feel that recruiting under new regulations has affected their ability to reach their revenue and growth goals for 2019?

Much Ado about Nothing?

More than half (55 percent) of recruitment pros feel that GDPR regulations have had no impact on whether or not they will reach their goals for growth and revenue. However, this is not a sentiment shared by all. See how respondents are split when it comes to data regulation.

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A Cultural Shift in Data Privacy Regulation
How are your recruitment peers adapting to the culture shift in data privacy and regulation?

United or Divided?

Many factors influence the evolution of the recruitment industry. Beyond the industry’s outlook for the year ahead, here’s a look at how recruitment pros feel about key topics that could influence the ways in which business gets done in 2019.  

Do you agree or disagree with the following topics?

Respondents overwhelmingly agree: agencies must embrace digital transformation, employers must accelerate pay increases, and reskilling candidates is critical. See where respondents are united and divided.

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More on the Industry’s Sentiment
Get a pulse on how recruitment professionals feels about key factors impacting the industry.

Learning and Development

One thing is clear, the recruitment industry is continually changing, which means professionals must constantly keep up with new topics, trends, and updated skills. Respondents believe that their fellow recruitment industry professionals would benefit from having additional training on these topics.

Social media 15%
Search engine optimization 6%
Use of technology to automate manual processes 16%
Staffing/recruitment software (CRM, VMS, etc.) 9%
Data protection and security 6%
Staffing/recruitment marketing 7%
Client management and relationship building 21%
Candidate screening and selection 11%
Candidate nurturing and redeployment 6%
Other 2%

What is the top area your in which your peers need the most training and development?

Respondents think their fellow industry professionals would benefit most by having additional training when it comes to client management and relationship building. This is closely followed by how to use technology to automate manual processes, social media, and candidate screening and selection.

More on Artificial Intelligence
Learn more about artificial intelligence in the recruitment industry.

What’s the most interesting industry trend you’re following?

In recruitment, it’s important to stay current on trends impacting the industry as well as trends that are influencing client businesses and the candidates that firms are working to recruit. We asked respondents to share the most interesting industry trends they’re actively following.

Most commonly, respondents say they’re interested in artificial intelligence and how it relates to automation and the recruitment industry. The second most common responses relate to social media and how to leverage it for opportunities within recruitment. Other common responses include topics like digital marketing, the gig/freelance economy, and VMS.

The skills gap, and how to be part of the solution helping companies to close it.

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Value-added services for candidates, beyond placements.

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The role recruitment businesses can play in the training and development of unskilled / outdated workers and placement of them into a new career. This could change the way external recruitment is seen and present a seismic shift in our sector.

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How AI and automation can help with candidate screening and onboarding.

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Using video technology to attract new talent.

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Increased use of social media to profile future recruits, and better market ourselves.

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Movement and globalisation of the active talent pool.

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Use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) within a recruitment business from automation of finance function through to client & candidate engagement.

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The ongoing adoption of psychometric testing, and the valuable insights it offers.

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What trends would you like to learn more about? Let us know and we’ll share relevant insights here on the GRID.

Learn more about the topics recruitment professionals say will influence the industry in 2019. Visit the insights and spotlights sections here on the GRID.