Dave talks to… Dee Dee Doke – Talent Matters Podcast

by in Talent Matters

Dave talks to Dee Dee Doke about balanced spending in a recession, how recessions can give micro businesses an advantage, the impact of the recession being industry-dependant, skills vs talent, and the importance of being total market experts.

The One Where They Talk About…

In episode 12 of the Talent Matters podcast series, Wave CEO Dave Jenkins chats to Dee Dee Doke, editor of Recruiter Magazine, a leader in delivering authoritative, independent recruitment industry news and insights. Having been at the helm of Recruiter Magazine for nearly 18 years, Dee Dee is an authority on the industry and her decades of experience make her well placed to comment on the evolution of the recruitment industry, how it will weather the recession, and what recruiters should be doing to come out the other side on top (hint: value-add is key!).

The podcast is now live and well worth a listen but we’ve compiled a summary of the key takeaways so you don’t have to take notes!

Recessions call for a healthy spending balance

The past year reflects one of the truisms of recruitment, that it is about the survival of the fittest. Now is not the time to make big investments but if you’re careful with your business’ finances you should stay on an even keel. It’s about a healthy balance of spending when you need to but also being cautious of over-investing. Keep an eye on your cash flow as that catches many businesses out in a recession. What you want is a safety blanket if deals start to slow down.

Micro businesses may weather the storm more easily

A huge proportion of the recruitment industry consists of micro businesses, those with a maximum of 10 people. It’s something that talks to an aspect of entrepreneurialism which is a big part of the DNA of recruitment. If they’re savvy, a recession such as the one we find ourselves in now can be healthy environment for micro businesses. Relatively small wins can influence and impact revenue made. Just picking up two or three new clients can make a huge difference to business performance, meaning they’re not reliant on forces outside their control. Historically the entrepreneurialism of industry is what keeps it going through tough times.

The recession will hit certain industries more than others

There’s no getting away from the fact that we will see layoffs in 2023, and we’ve already seen them in the tech industry. However, there are sectors such as healthcare and pharma that are continuing to create a high number of jobs and desperately need to fill vacancies. These are solid industries that will continue to need investment, especially with their historic skills shortages. The recession will certainly impact certain industries but other industries won’t feel it so much. The reality is that there are still a lot of jobs out there and they won’t vanish overnight. The REC’s Recruitment Industry Status Report 2021/22 revealed how well the recruitment industry has recovered in the post-pandemic recovery stage. It has bounced back and the same will happen after this recession.

Skills over ‘talent’

We can see, as consumers as well as individuals working in the recruitment industry, that we have a skills crisis as well as a severe supply chain problem that could impact the world of work. Dee Dee believes that a lack of supply plus a lack of skills are the two elements having the biggest impact on recruitment. Supply chains are not something recruiters have much sway over but they can influence the skills problem.

Dee Dee insists that ‘talent’ is a subjective word and that recruiters and employers should place more of a focus on skills, something far more tangible. The reason we talk about ‘talent’ rather than ‘skills’ is likely because the latter is perceived as a boring word compared to the excitement that ‘talent’ conjures. However, skills should encompass so much more – capabilities, abilities, aptitude, knowing how to do something. It’s Dee Dee’s opinion that we don’t pay enough attention to that. ‘Talent’ doesn’t encapsulate what is needed adequately.

Recruiters must be market experts to have the competitive edge

As the practice of recruitment evolves, recruiters need to have a role in shaping candidates, helping with up-skilling, and so on. With a steadily increasing number offering a portfolio of services to clients, the recruiter’s job must be more than just facilitating a job match. They need to demonstrate how a candidate can grow with an organisation and how an organisation can in turn help with a candidate’s growth. This involves forming relationships over time, evolving from the purely transactional into becoming a trusted partner.

Recruiters need to build expertise. Instead of just recommending a couple of candidates, they need to demonstrate to clients that they understand the industry and that they’ve really got under the skin of the business. They need to become complete market and sector experts, advising and consulting on who their clients need and where to find them. They need to develop their own talent pools. It will get to the stage where organisations will look for the same kinds of qualities in recruiters as they do in other professional partners, for example accountants and lawyers. They will be asking, will this recruiter get to the bottom of what I require and deliver more than my immediate need? For that to happen, you need to be an absolute expert on the industry and area you’re recruiting in.

And finally, the all important dinner party question…

“What would I serve at a dinner party? That is a terrifying question! Cooking is not my thing so I’d order a takeaway from three different places – a great Thai, a great burger place, (as long as they do veggie burgers), and a great Mexican. Then there’s something for everyone!”

Talent Matters Podcast