Recruitment Industry Outlook

Overall, survey respondents based in the DACH market (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) have an optimistic outlook on what’s in store for the recruitment industry. Expectations in regards to sales, budget, investments, and placements are all higher in 2019 than they were in 2018.

How do you expect revenue to change in 2019?

Only 5 percent of respondents expect a decline in revenue this year, whereas most expect a rise compared to 2018.

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

Recruitment experts say they expect an increase in temporary staff in 2019. Meanwhile, operating budgets, investments in technology, efforts to improve workers' skills through education and training, and the proportion of companies that leverage VMS are also increasing.

How do you expect the following to change in 2019?

While most expect temporary jobs and investments to be nearly the same in 2019 versus 2018, less than 15 percent of respondents expect a reduction in temporary jobs and budgets.

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

There are several options that recruitment firms can consider with the goal of expanding their business: increasing orders from new and existing customers can help strengthen their agency’s brand presence, acquiring new businesses can mean a rapid growth, and an acquisition by another company could signal a profitable exit. Most respondents consider strategic growth in 2019 to be a priority.

What’s your business’ primary growth strategy?

Organic growth is the industry's most important growth strategy in 2019. Only 3 percent say they will grow by acquiring new companies, and even fewer (2 percent) expect their own company to be acquired.

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

Top Priorities for Recruitment Professionals

According to the respondents, in 2019 candidates will be the main focus in addition to the apparent increase in revenue and profitability. What other priorities will arise? Digital transformation will become an important tool to improve recruitment firms’ processes, develop their brands, and improve their marketing strategies, as well as increase collaboration with their customers.

What are your top priorities for 2019?

Candidates will be the highest priority in 2019, in addition to active sourcing (65 percent) and the use of digital transformation to improve processes (33 percent). Have a look here at other major priorities in 2019.

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

Top Challenges for Recruitment Professionals

Though the overall outlook is mostly positive, there are a few recruiting and operational challenges, some sparked by macroeconomic and political changes, that recruiters in the DACH market are keeping top of mind. Take a look below to see what challenges lie ahead in 2019.

What are your top hiring challenges for 2019?

In addition to the persistent shortage of skilled workers, recruitment firm owners struggle to get employers to raise pay rates for candidates. Another important issue is mitigating turnover due to a booming job market.

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?

Price pressure and margin reduction are always points of focus, but the key challenge according to respondents is about leveraging digital transformation to improve operations in their business.

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 uncertain about what the future brings in this economy, you’re not alone. Cyber attacks have been on the rise, which is why cyber security and GDPR are important areas of focus for many respondents.

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

Opportunities or Obstacles

Digital transformation. The globalization of the economy. The increased mobilization of talent. Online talent platforms. Disruptive factors that recruiters will face in 2019 all beg the question, "Are these opportunities? Or are they obstacles?"

Will digital transformation help or hurt your business?

From the results, it is clear that respondents believe that digital transformation is the key to integrating technology into all areas of a business to improve operations, as well as a means to offer additional value to customers.

More on Digital Transformation
See how recruitment professionals rate their understanding of AI and machine learning.

Economic globalization and technological progress result in employees becoming more and more mobile. Due to this development, companies are able to recruit qualified candidates from around the world and find the best people for the job. So is this an opportunity for the recruitment sector or a bigger challenge?

Do globalization and the increased mobility of talent pose a challenge or an opportunity?

Most respondents believe these developments to be an opportunity for their business.

Recruiting Beyond Borders
Learn more about how the globalization of business and the increased mobility of talent is impacting the recruitment industry.

The rise of online talent platforms has changed the challenges businesses face. Will the rise of the gig economy ultimately lead to yet unknown opportunities for the businesses of today? Or do they pose a threat to the industry?

Are online talent platforms making recruiting for sought-after roles easier or harder?

It is still unclear whether online talent platforms will make things easier, but so far it is believed that they represent opportunities.

Helpful or Harmful?
Explore how recruitment professionals feel about the rise of online talent platforms.

United or Divided?

There are many different factors that influence the recruitment industry. Apart from the expectations for the coming year, here are some topics that are top-of-mind for recruiters.

Do you agree or disagree with the following topics?

Respondents agree: reskilling candidates is an effective way of solving talent shortages, recruitment agencies need to embrace digital transformation, and organizations with a diverse workforce are more effective than others.

Learning and Development

Continuous learning is essential for professionals in the recruitment industry. Below is how respondents rate their knowledge of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, as well as the topics recruiting professionals are eager to learn more about.

How would you rate your understanding of machine learning and artificial intelligence?

Most respondents give themselves average scores for their understanding of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

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

The recruitment industry is continuously changing, meaning that professionals need to stay up to date about new topics and learn new skills. According to respondents, recruitment professionals would benefit from further training on certain topics.

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

Respondents believe that recruitment professionals would benefit most from additional training on social media, the use of technology for the automation of manual processes, and recruiting software.


Social media 21%
Use of technology to automate manual processes 16%
Staffing/recruitment software (CRM, VMS, etc.) 12%
Candidate screening and selection 11%
Data protection and security 10%
Staffing/recruitment marketing 10%
Search engine optimization 8%
Client management and relationship building 8%
Candidate nurturing and redeployment 3%
Other 1%

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

Within recruitment, it's not only important that one stays on top of trends that affect the industry, but also trends that have an impact on clients and candidates. We asked respondents to share their most interesting recruitment trends.

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 chatbots.


Personalize, not digitize. Everything is becoming digital, but in this process, we also lose a bit of empathy with which we can respond to someone's needs and feelings.

survey respondent

Data analysis to be able to analyze target groups.

survey respondent

AI and what this means for the recruitment profession.

survey respondent

I'd like to learn more about communication methods with the new generation.

survey respondent

Measuring the quality of both the customer's and the candidate's journeys.

survey respondent

Engaging via LinkedIn; using this platform to source candidates and clients.

survey respondent

LinkedIn recruiter seat! Continues to change and add new ways of doing things. It's always in motion.

survey respondent

Using apps that allow candidates to apply to the company directly while still using the temporary employment agency as an intermediary in the background.

survey respondent

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.