The hottest recruitment trends for 2023

by in Recruitment Trends

2022 has given us a war, a cost of living crisis, and 3 British prime ministers. We’re now officially in a recession but it’s a recession unlike any we have ever seen before – one with record low levels of unemployment.

It’s created a strange market where jobs remain high but candidates are still thin on the ground and the candidate remains king.

WaveTrackR data shows that, while jobs have slowed slightly from the start of the year, they are consistently higher than the 2021 average, and applications are 10% lower than they were in October.

The good news is that this creates opportunities for the top recruiters to shine. But how long will this climate remain? What will 2023 hold for the world of recruitment?

We have been fortunate to have a host of industry legends as guests on Wave’s Talent Matters podcast series this year and each has gifted us with their predictions for the year to come. These are insights based on years of experience and talking to recruiters, candidates and other industry professionals on a daily basis. None has a crystal ball but each has a huge amount of knowledge to draw on.

Here’s the recruitment trends our Talent Matters guests predict we’ll see in 2023 and beyond:

Recruiters will act as sports agents

Leading authority in the recruitment arena, Louise Triance, believes we could see recruiters acting like sports agents, whereby candidates return to a single recruiter for different career moves throughout their working life. Today’s professionals don’t have a job for life, they have several, and this has been compounded by the pandemic. Many switched industries altogether, others are job hopping in search of greater flexibility or compensation, some simply want to explore opportunities.

If a recruiter continues to network and foster relationships with employers and candidates in that community, there is no reason that candidates shouldn’t use them again and again each time they want to take that next step. It does already happen with recruiters that have huge experience in the industry, especially in the rec-to-rec space – they take their candidates from placement to placement, as and when they are ready to make their next move. Again, that comes from relationship building, both with clients and candidates.

Louise Triance talks about recruiters acting as sport agents on Talent Matters EP201

Alternative candidate sourcing strategies will be vital

Recruitment copywriting expert Mitch Sullivan maintains that, with soaring job board prices and a general lack of jobseekers, recruiters need to widen their search for talented candidates.

First and foremost, they should be carrying a proprietary database, collecting candidate details and storing them in their CRM. They should also be building an audience on LinkedIn to further bolster their talent pool.

The stronger those approaches get, the less reliant on a single source, such as job boards, recruiters will have to be. Growing an audience, making connections, forming and nurturing relationships, will all help to build instant access to people who do the types of jobs you need to fill.

Mitch Sullivan talks about why alternative recruitment strategies are vital on Talent Matters EP202

Flexibility will be the key to attracting candidates

We all know that candidate motivators have changed since COVID but we found one statistic mind-blowing.

In a recent Talent Matters podcast, LinkedIn Sales Director Cara O’Leary revealed that flexibility has become the number 1 priority when searching for a new job, even above compensation. It’s clear that flexibility is what employers need to be offering in order to attract talented candidates in 2023, whether that’s in terms of hours, location or contract type.

This incredible desire for flexibility in a role provides an opportunity for employers and recruiters to capture that huge marketplace of people looking for job flexibility.

Cara O’Leary talks about flexibility as the no1 candidate motivator on Talent Matters EP210

Chair of ADLIB Recruitment and sister company Enable, Nick Dean, believes individual flexibility will prove to be the clincher. Every person is different, with different needs and different ways of working well.

He maintains that it’s the companies that are coming at it with maturity and balance that are winning candidates. Those that are approaching it from an objective-led perspective – creating an environment where if an employee meets the objectives of their role, the hours and location can fit around what works best for them – are thriving.

Nick Dean talks about realisations around remote working on Talent Matters EP203

Total talent solutions will be sought after in a constantly evolving market

Recruitment business coach and all-round industry legend Paul Sharpe has seen demand for project-based solutions grow hugely. 28% of outsourcing solutions are now more project-based and therein lies a huge opportunity for recruitment SMEs to grab hold of that market. Business owners can future-proof their businesses by maturing and developing services that clients will value downstream but planning needs to start now as demand is already increasing. It’s about doing more than just taking an order and placing a candidate in that role. The scope needs to be broader to include total talent solutions.

Clients will begin to choose recruiters that think about the work that needs to be done rather than the body that needs to be hired. This is where there needs to be a shift from a transactional model to recruiters taking on a consultative role with the client, something that many Talent Matters podcast guests commented on. There is now an opportunity to work out how to solve an entire talent problem rather than how individual roles can be filled. This was already valued pre-COVID but is valued now more than ever before. If you’re only selling transactional recruitment services now is the time to stop, re-think and plan what is right for you going forward.

Paul Sharpe talks about solutions-based recruitment on Talent Matters EP204

Recruiters will need to be strategic advisors

Cara O’Leary highlights the importance of becoming a strategic advisor for your clients. Ensure you understand what’s happening in the industry in which you recruit as well as the wider economic situation, take the pulse of the marketplace for both clients and candidates.

What people really want in times such as these is information and advice to make important decisions and that is where recruiters will prove their value. Those that do will shine.

Cara O’Leary talks about how recessions offer opportunities on Talent Matters EP210

Businesses will continue to hire

Totaljobs CEO Jon Wilson hit upon the mega-trends that mean businesses will keep hiring – namely, that both the size of the working population and the average amount of time people spend in jobs is decreasing. The working population is hugely slowing down and even declining in some of the world’s biggest economies – in 2050, the working population is only expected to be 1.5% bigger than it is today. One of the reasons for this is that many older workers took early retirement during the pandemic and few have returned, despite the cost of living crisis. The number of retirees returning to the workforce in some capacity is likely to rise, however, meaning you should have an experienced, capable talent pool becoming more active in the coming months.

You also have a huge number of people who were made redundant, then moved into other industries and many of that cohort haven’t returned either. The airline and hospitality industries are great examples of this. Add that to the numbers of workers from the EU that the UK has lost since Brexit and we have been left with a situation in which thousands of businesses are massively understaffed. The rising cost of living is, to some extent, forcing movement inside economy and there will be a small correction over the next six months, although this will impact people in lower paid jobs and entry level roles more. A huge legacy of COVID is that businesses have realised that if they stop hiring or reduce the number of jobs now, it won’t be easy to get those people back again, so many will just keep hiring if they can afford to do so. Smaller companies that can’t flex that way will see more volatility. However, the tension in the market won’t completely dissipate, which will continue to fuel the movement of people between jobs.

Jon Wilson talks about the mega-trends for recruitment in 2023 on Talent Matters EP207

Rohit Kapoor, Co-Founder of Paiger, remarked that everyone he speaks to is struggling to find candidates still, that COVID and Brexit have ultimately created the position that jobs aren’t going to slow down.

He also believes that we will continue to face the challenge of loads of jobs but low candidate numbers for a while to come yet. However, echoing other podcasts guests, he insists that this situation is a good thing for good recruiters.

The value of recruiters that excel at their jobs has increased hugely as quality candidates have become rare, meaning that opportunities are rife as we head into 2023.

Rohit Kapoor talks about how the recession will impact hiring on Talent Matters EP209

Agility will be vital to surviving and thriving

Wave’s Chief Revenue Officer Richard Essex insists that, despite the numerous challenges out there, people are fluid and learning how to deal with rapidly changing situations is vital to surviving and, beyond that, thriving.

Richard was by no means the only podcast guest to talk about the vital importance of agility. Cara O’Leary also stressed that recessions deliver opportunities for those willing and able to adapt as they allow companies to plan for the future, think about how to grow and diversify, and cement the direction in which they need to move to make that happen.

We saw this a lot during COVID. It was the companies that were agile and stopped to think about what the world needs right now, that pivoted in response to current market conditions and behaviours, that saw the greatest success.

Richard Essex talks about why communications will win clients and candidates on Talent Matters EP206

Utilising your tech stack to make time for greater communication will be key

Richard Essex advises that carving out time to focus on talking to candidates and clients is key to winning deals and attracting talented candidates.

At the end of the day, people are still getting new jobs every day and the unemployment rate is as low as it has been since the early ‘70s. The reality is, there are always ups and downs in the economy and in the world of recruitment. Ultimately, you’ve got to get on the phone and speak to the people you need to speak to. Speak to candidates and employers, build networks and trust. People will always be out there making money so be good at what you do and you will keep getting jobs and keep finding candidates.

Use all the avenues and all the tech available to you – develop a first-class recruitment website, use a CV database search, look at how you’re posting jobs. And use that tech to make the process easier and faster so that you can focus on the people aspect of recruitment – the very core of a recruitment business.

Richard Essex talks about how integrations are key on Talent Matters EP206

Cost per hire will be the next step in programmatic recruitment advertising

The job board advertising outcome that really matters to recruiters is applications or hires. After all, you don’t hire a ‘click’.

Because of this, Ryan Bridgman, Senior Sales Director at job search engine Jobrapido, envisions that programmatic recruitment advertising will evolve to a performance model that charges based on what recruiters are really interested in – moving further down the funnel to cost per hire.

The available data is getting much better, with more and more people able to track right the way through to hire. It’s already happening in the consumer arena, whereby advertisers can can track a consumer’s journey all the way to ‘buy’ and beyond. There will be more and more relevance for both recruiters and candidates as programmatic advertisers are able to collect more data on individual candidates and their journeys.

Ryan Bridgman talks about how cost-per-hire is next for job boards on Talent Matters EP208

And if the recession does prove to be tough in 2023, be ready to bounce back

Firefish founder and CEO Wendy McDougall insisted that it’s the challenges Firefish faced and responded to – the elements brought in to deal with communication challenges and a reassessment of where the company needed to go, leading to a restructure – that allowed the company to fly. They focused on tightening the business, wanting to be ready to bounce out of survival mode into actively improving, innovating and bringing onboard new clients, and that drive motored them through the worst of the pandemic and led to further growth.

Wendy McDougall talks about the importance of evolving recruitment tech on Talent Matters EP205

Cara O’Leary concurs, maintaining that the most important piece of advice when faced with a recession is not to panic but take time to figure out how to plan for growth. Ask yourself, “what resources do I have, where is there an opportunity, where can I invest intelligently to survive and thrive over the next 18 months?” Sometimes recessions force us to think about what we’re doing and pivot. They provide an excellent opportunity to revisit what we’re doing and why. A positive, leaning in approach to the recession will help you to not only make it through to the other end but to grow and prosper during it.

We are living in an incredibly volatile time, where we have to expect change rather than fear it. Resilience and agility are key skills and feed into many of the trends predicted for 2023. Recruiters will need to put on a range of hats in order to prove truly valuable and those that do will find that they end 2023 on a high.