IT recruitment – don’t be selfish
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IT recruitment – don’t be selfish

IT recruitment – don’t be selfish

Posted on 29th October 2018

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There is an understandable tendency for all firms (and individuals) to see the future from a selfish point of view. It’s the same with IT recruitment: if your firm is well thought of and consequently hoovering up all the available talent then as far as you are concerned everything is peachy.  Conversely, if you are an aspiring start-up with no track record, struggling to hire the people you need to take you to the next level, then the world’s against you and the IT recruitment market is broken. 

The future of recruitment CIPD event

All this came to mind last week when I attended a CIPD seminar in Edinburgh last week (picture above) on ‘The Future of Recruitment.’  I suspect that a lot of people, myself included, were expecting a sales pitch for some brave new technology, but instead we got a reasoned and provocative essay on the macro-economic factors that are likely to kick in and impact on recruitment in general – and thus IT recruitment as well - over the next few years. 

Foremost amongst these is the demographics of the country.  Increasing numbers of older people will want/have to work as the pension age creeps inexorably upwards. Young recruiters will have to adapt to these older groups as much as the latter will have to adapt to modern recruiting practices.  Millennials, with the certainty of youth, will demand to be treated differently and will expect recruitment tech to work seamlessly. More than two clicks and you’ll lose them.  Flexible working, already huge, will increase at all age levels. Recruitment, whether IT, construction, finance or whatever, will have to flex too and the recruitment industry must encourage government to think ahead of the curve, not try to catch up (IR35 anyone?) from behind.

Secondly, we were urged to think of Brexit not as an isolated event but rather something that (whatever form it takes) is influenced by the macro-economic picture across the globe. A worldwide recession coupled with a ‘bad’ Brexit could well be a disaster, but sound growth and a ‘good’ Brexit could be a boost to us all. It is as absurd to insist there will be no opportunities in Brexit as to insist that it’s a ticket to some golden uplands or total impoverishment. The future will be more nuanced and influenced to a greater or lesser extent by external factors (especially politicians) beyond any business’s control.

Whatever happens with Brexit, it was pointed out that no sane business wants to do badly, so, as well as preparing for all likely eventualities, it makes sense to look on the bright side.  For example, rather than fretting about doomsday scenarios, it was suggested we look at the fact that, despite the underlying fragility of the UK economy, pay has been increasing faster than inflation for five months now (a lot faster in IT) and average real wage growth is now at 3.1%, which is a 10 year high. UK economic growth, contrary to what you may hear, is not the lowest in the G7 and the PMI index for the country as a whole was above 54 in September (over 50 means growth), so, it was argued, there is actually a lot to be glad about. Yes, you can equally seek gloomy news, but a post Brexit decline in growth does not mean that growth is negative. Moreover, depending on those external economic/political factors, it could still be at an acceptable level, so why are we not doing more to ensure that, whatever Mrs. May’s plans, we try to drive up overall growth as much as sensibly possible (but please not by burdening future generations with unsustainable national debt)? Let’s accentuate the positive was the message.

Technology was another key plank in the argument, with the point being (well) made that there are a lot of people out there selling recruitment tech that is actually very old indeed.  Getting ahead of this particular curve means AI and blockchain, yet intriguingly, in an audience of over 40 HR/recruiters, not one knew much about the latter.

Finally, we were encouraged (if that’s the right word) to think about the next recession. We are overdue one, and while the Great Recession of 2009 was horrendous, we reacted differently as a country/economy to it than to previous recessions.  Strenuous efforts were made to keep people in employment, thus partially resulting in our current productivity problems.  Better use of new technology ought to play a key part in improving productivity and thus mitigating the effects of Brexit/recession, and here is where IT and IT recruiters have a major part to play.

All in all, an inspiring seminar, which certainly made me look beyond the end of the next month, the next target, the next recruitment event.  Of course, we’re all going to keep on being selfish: it’s what powers our lives and our businesses, but if we fail to see the bigger picture then we’ll all – recruiters included - be worse off.

Nikola Kelly, MD, Be-IT

Posted in Opinion, Recruitment News

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