Extraordinary… unprecedented… frenetic… record breaking!
I have been hearing these words continuously from recruitment business leaders over the last 18 months or so, words that to me perfectly depict what the sector has been experiencing.
These are truly unique times and the freneticism of the markets has been unrelenting, testing recruitment businesses’ ability to manage significant levels of job flow with the firepower they have left from covid or built up since.
But what fascinates me the most is how both our collective industry, as well as our individual businesses, continue to ride these high highs and low lows so well.
We proved this back in Q2 / Q3 of 2020 when we reorganised (in many cases, for survival) and then again from Q4 onwards as we looked to maximise the growth opportunity that was presented to us.
Of course, as with any economic cycle, we are acutely aware that the markets will turn at some stage soon, some predicting a slowing down of the growth trajectory we are currently on, others more a flatlining, and other forecasting a widespread downturn pushing us towards another recessionary period, all fuelled by the macro challenges we are seeing around the world all coming to a head at the same time.
The end of 2022 is undoubtedly going to look quite different from the start of the year… from an economical perspective.
But the reality is, with all that is going on around us, this is not a typical economic cycle by any means and the recruitment sector and many of those within it, will continue to be part insulated as the market does change.
Even more significantly, we as recruitment leaders, have the ability to further insulate our businesses by the way we structure them, the way we run them and the way we engage with our customer base. We said this back in 2020 “you can choose to take part in the downturn or not – it’s up to you” and the same is now true at the end of 2022 moving into the new year.
We now know how to create our own growth pathways, despite negative changes in the economy.
Over the past year or so, the savvy recruitment businesses have been building. Building strong foundations to both capitalise on the market conditions today, but as importantly to ensure they can continue on an upward growth curve even as the market changes.
They are focusing their resources and investing not just in headcount, but in digital transformation, user experience, employee engagement, reskilling and redeployment and new product development.
They are building intentional purpose in their businesses that in turn creates intentional profit.
They are transitioning to embedded partnerships, long term contracts that deliver mutually high levels of yield for both them and their customers.
They are embracing technology, diversity, borderless workers and remote working to gain access to far deeper and wider communities of talent.
They are better positioned than ever before to service their customer base. Their businesses are becoming more sustainable, stickier and more scalable and their businesses are becoming more profitable, normalising conversion rates of +30% of their NFI to the profit line.
Quite simply, many recruitment businesses right now are doing well, not just because of the buoyancy of the market, but because of what they are doing and how they are doing it – lessons that have been learnt over the past 24 months…
- Two years ago, our industry took a masterclass in cost and crisis management… and passed the test.
- 18 months ago, we learnt about the importance of true customer relationship building, even though we were in a remote virtual world… and we did a pretty damn good job of it.
- We learned about the real value of our people and purpose internally and how that relates directly to profit… and we re-engaged our workforces.
- And for the last year or so, we have demonstrated the importance of being just seriously good at sourcing, recruiting and delivery… and we are converting jobs at scale, despite a lack of candidates in many areas.
These four qualifications alone have been and will continue to serve us well moving forward into the next economic cycle.
- Our somewhat casual grasp on the financials pre-covid has now been replaced with a healthy obsession with waste elimination and productivity.
- Our supplier / customer relationships our now mutually beneficial and sticky partnerships.
- Our emphasis on KPIs and presenteeism has been swapped out with a renewed focus on outputs, productivity and trust.
- And our candidate attraction strategies have taken a serious upgrade.
We are better businesses, better leaders because of what has happened these past couple of years and we are stronger, more resilient and more agile to capitalise on any market conditions moving forward.
We have maximum momentum, and whilst the markets may slow down, we certainly won’t be!