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 min read

[VIDEO] What Can Recruiters Do in 2023 to Adapt to Industry change?

On this months episode of 'What's in the Pipeline?' our very own Head of People Ashleigh and CEO Nick discuss what recruiters can expect in 2023 and how to best prepare.


Or listen:

Here are some key takeaways:

What makes an adaptable recruiter?

  1. Good commercial understanding.

You need to keep up to date with industry trends and have a good insight into where the growth is happening. Start thinking about the relationships you can start with tech led people that are in businesses that are not traditionally tech but who want to expand their tech offering.

  1. Be naturally curious

When you’re new to something, or you're talking to a new client or candidate, you need to learn as much as possible. So, be willing and keen to ask lots of questions. It'll help you learn faster and be more credible recruiter who can add more value.

  1. Be creative, create a memorable service (for all the right reasons)

With BD or finding candidates, try methods that are out of the norm to stand out from a large crowd of recruiters. Find out what others are doing... then do something different. Another easy way to stand out in recruitment is to show you care and that you're willing to help.

The full transcript:


Hello. Welcome to What's in the Pipeline. In today's episode, we're going to be discussing what's coming up in 2023.

We're going to look into trends and how recruiters can adapt to change.

I'm Ashleigh, your host, Head of People here at Few&Far. And I'm joined by Nick Charalambous, our CEO and co-founder.

Welcome to the podcast, Nick.

Cheers Ash.

Good to have you here. I'm going to dive straight in with the first question, what trends do you think we've seen in recruitment post-COVID?

Post-COVID, okay, so post-COVID will be like really Q2 2021.

I think the first thing that's been a really interesting one is that remote working piece, both recruitment companies but also tech companies.

That's been interesting because there's a lot of recruiters now that have just had their client potential open up massively.

They can work with a whole range of clients across Europe and do that remotely. So that's been definitely a big trend.

And I think for recruitment companies themselves as well, being able to have some level of flexibility where you have staff based, how you work.

I don't think there is like a perfect way of doing it. I think it's really dependent on the type of business you are.

But that's been interesting.

And I think one of the key things has been the boom.

Firstly, boom in contracts. So when COVID hit, contracts was like the first thing to be cut in a lot of tech companies to just save money.

But it was also one of the first things to come back.

And I think most people that I've spoken to in contracts between Q2 last year and this year, they probably had their biggest year.

And I think just generally across the whole of the recruitment space, specifically tech, I don't think

I've never seen a busier market in my time like it has been absolutely insane.

Yeah, I think you make a really interesting point there, and I think all the remote working first of all recruitment companies were in a position where they didn't have a choice to be remote in COVID and it wasn't an option.

So a lot of companies and especially recruitment companies, had to adapt quickly because they hadn't been set up for that before.


The point I want to dive into is the boom.

Do you think we're still in that?

And if not, when did that end? Obviously, there's a lot in the news at the moment about moving towards recession and, yeah, negative things in the news about the market.


Do I think we're past that boom? Yes.One hundred percent.

That was an insane period. I think most recruitment companies probably had way more work than they can handle.

But the news is very doom and gloom.

I think we've been in recession for a while.

Generally, the you know, you don't tend to call it recession. As soon as it happened, you have to be in it for a period of time, too, to then qualify as a recession.

So we've now fallen into one. But I, I don't think that we are in a terrible position, especially in tech. Like if you consider the amount of roles and opportunities that are out there now, most companies would have been in a very similar situation. 2019, 2018.

I think recruiters can have a very short term memory.

And I also think that the boom that we had in that year changes perceptions of people.

So I think right now, yes, we're going into recession.

Yes, there are companies that are cutting, but I don't think that you could be in a better industry outside of tech.

I think we are very lucky because it is one of the most cost effective ways of making money.

And I don't see it getting to the position where we were like during COVID.

But that was really tough. So I don't think we'll get to that point. Yeah, okay!

I think there's also a lot of recruiters that have joined recruitment during that period and now and having that boom kind of cut, they're now thinking that the market is really, really tough because they hadn't experienced it. pre-COVID.


Are you talking about specifically
people that have got into recruitment for the first time?


Yeah, yeah.

Look, I guess there's two sides to this. There was never a better time
to get into recruitment than that year, but at the same time, your perceptions are going to be completely different.

Probably what everyone has experienced in the last five years.

I think people that have been in recruitment for three, five,seven, ten years. knew, thatthat was unusual.

And I think that the people that have come into recruitment the first time have to be aware that that market wasn't going to last, probably isn't going to continue growing at that pace, there’s no way.

But, it's good because you'll see people that have learned a lot in that period of time have made mistakes in that period of time and still made money.

You know, can they then take that forward and go ahead and go do BD?

Have they built good relationships, all that kind of stuff?

So I think they would have found it.

They're going to find it tougher, definitely, one hundred percent.


Yeah, absolutely.

Interested to know. What are your predictions for 2023? From a recruitment standpoint,


I think that I think there'll be a lot of companies that will still make cuts definitely in Q1.

That's going to be pretty standard.

And that happens in most recessions, right?

Generally going from between, 6 to 9 months.

So I think probably Q1, there'll be some cuts still.

I think big companies probably won't bring back hiring.

I think there will be some really interesting things that happen with the VC space.

So VCs really since July or August have stopped making as frequent investments at Series D, so the bigger investments.

Because they at that point they want to see traction from those companies, they've made more investments that like that earlier stage.

So like seed Series A, maybe series B, I think maybe in 2023, definitely the second half, they'll probably start to see more of those kind of slightly larger investments coming in because the ones that they made earlier in 2022 or early 2023, they'll start to become good and kind of follow around.

So I think there'll be a big increase in VC backed companies starting to grow. I think the larger companies that are not in tech will also start to invest money in. It happened in 2000 and 2009.

You know, for example, in retail, large retailers were throwing millions of pounds at developing that digital propositions because they realised that was the most cost effective way of making money.

I think it will happen again, and I think that will happen across a range of different industries so that probably happened second half. In my opinion.

I think contracts will be relatively stable if anything will probably grow because as you go into recession, you want to have the flexibility. And so I think contracts recruiters would do really well.

And the changing to IR35?

I mean, the IR35 stuff’s a mess right?

They've said they're going to cancel it.

They've now gone back and said it's still there.

Most companies now are prepared for it, there's processes around it. I don't think it will have a drastic effect.

So yeah, I think it just continue to grow as normal.

So just going back to that, VCs coming in to Series A, should they be the kind of clients that recruiters are going after in the first half of 2023 for hiring?


Yeah, I think I mean, itdepends on what your market is, right?

But if you're doing like engineering or design or product or something like that, you know, those tend to be the companies that will start to scale.

I would look at those companies.

I would also start thinking about the relationships that you start to make with, let's say, tech led people that are in businesses that are not traditionally tech and start to put the groundwork in there because, it's a lot easier and quicker to get into a series A business as opposed to someone like a GSK.

Yeah, So that groundwork needs to be going in from the early stages.

But yeah, I would say Series A, Series B ultimately follow the money.

Okay. Kind of leads me on to the next question.

How can tech recruiters prepare and adjust for this change going into next year?

It's a difficult one, right?

Because I think one of the key things is relationships, right?

And I think we're coming out of that boom where maybe client relationships weren't always like the forefront because there was such a huge demand from clients to hire.

Most recruiters put the focus on the candidate and it became quite transactional.

From what I heard from from a lot of the clients we spoke to. So, if people have done a good job in building relationships with a client, they need to continue to develop those.

They need to get very, close with them. They need to start adding valuefrom like a business and commercial perspective to them.

And if you can do that, then you're going to be getting a lot more inbound business.

I think people need to start making more effort and actually doing meetings.

I spoke to a number of different recruitment founders.

Meetings have been the thing that have really slipped since COVID, I mean, we're guilty of it
as well. We were doing meetups, you know, everyone was meeting at least one or two people a week.

That's changed completely because of COVID. And we had to we have to go through that process to get ourselves back into that mindset as well.


Do you think candidates and clients are still as willing to meet face to face for a coffee, for a beer as they were pre-COVID?

Yeah. I think as long as they see the value in it. Yeah, of course. Right.

I think if you're coming in as that transactional recruiter that offers no value, then why would they waste time?

But if you're actually creating value to them and you know, let's say for example, you're doing a career coaching session, for example, the candidate, of course they're going to see value in that, right?

You can partner that with a drink and a part of that meeting will be about building that relationship.

So yeah, absolutely. Just as the video meetings have become more popular in phone calls. So yeah, yeah, they know. They definitely have.

But there is no substitute for actually being face to face. So and I think that that brings up
another point, right.

Which is I do think companies will start to look at creating more of a hybrid model. I've already seen it with a number of the clients as we're starting to work
with people in the news with like Elon Musk saying he's going to bring back people into the office

and for firing anyone who disagrees with him.


Yeah, exactly.

But I think I think that will be more common. You know, we spoke to a number of people who are actually keen to go back into the office.

These are not engineers right? Engineers do not want to go back to the office.

They they they want to stay fully remote.

And I think companies have to make sure that if they're going to retain that talent and they have to give them that flexibility with product, with design, there is much more of like a necessity for human interaction and like being face to face. So I think a hybrid model will work there.

But I think we're going to get to a point where that that way of working is going to be really tailored to the specific company.

But I don't think a lot of companies have found that right balance yet.


And specifically for recruitment companies, do you think that the hybrid model is working, having, you know, days at
home and days in the office?

I personally think it does.

I know recruitment companies that have been five days a week, literally as the doors open after COVID.

And I understand the value of that. I do. I think it's really important to be face to face with the colleagues.

I think the amount of knowledge sharing you can do in your when you're face to face is is huge and really valuable.

Recruitment is a tough job, especially you're not having the best months.

Having people around you to boost you up makes a massive impact.

You know, there's also, you know, going into winter now, and you wake up at 7 a.m. on a rainy Tuesday, BD’s not going to be the first thing you want to get up and do when you’re at home.

So being in the office does, in my opinion, drive more productivity, generally a better culture.

But I don't think five days a week is the answer.

I think you need to give a level of

flexibility in, you know, being home whilst also being in office.

But I also don't think fully remote works for us anyway, or for companies like us. I think it potentially can work If you've got like a business of purely like senior level principals that know exactly what they're doing and very happy to do that, that could work.

But that's rarely the case.


Yeah, and I think we experience that with training when it comes to, you know, juniors in recruitment, how do you give them the best experience training wise, but also like catch ups, performance reviews when you're behind a screen, are you able to have that face to face interaction and get under the bonnet of some of the issues that they're facing and the challenges?


I think extremely difficult for for Junior specifically. I mean, you actually speak to them right? You go for coffees and have chats with the juniors.

A lot of people that have been here for like, you know, six months a year, do you see them being like, I want to do more remote working or they quite happy coming to the office?


No, I think they’re definitely happy coming into the office.

I think people learn more through being in the office.

And I think the biggest thing is they're not just learning from their team, they're learning from other people's teams and they're able to get other people's

So it's not just, you know, I can ask my manager how I do this or how he, he or she would do that.

It's I've got a whole floor of people where I can get opinions and I can listen to calls and I can see how people handle different situations.

I think the only thing that is impacting people wanting to come into the office more is cost.

I think, you know, when trying prices are going up and petrol is going up and rents going up, ultimately it's always going to affect.


Yeah, I mean I get that one hundred percent because it is expensive, but even when we, when we kind of
introduced a hybrid model ourselves, right, the key stats that we highlighted with the top five performers across the business were the office
three days a week, every single person that was on track and on target was in the office at least three days a week.

So yeah, I think that it needs to be like a balance, right?

Because if you're not going to, you have to invest in the learning.

So if you're not invest in coming in, you're not going to learn as much and therefore not going to make as much money.

So it's a weird like balance.

But yeah, I do, I do understand it.


So one of the common themes for this whole conversation has been that recruiters need to be adaptable.

We don't know what's around the corner.

We had COVID, now a recession.

In your opinion, what makes an adaptable recruiter?

I think you need to have a good commercial understanding and what I mean by that is, you know, you don't know how to run PNL’s or anything like that,
but you need to understand how companies function and how they make money and what that whole ecosystem looks like.

The reason why people will be able to adapt if they have that commercial understanding is because they need to follow
where the growth is going to happen.

We're going into recession. Some areas are going to really struggle, right.

You know, as soon as the recession was kind of coming into play, there were companies that we work with that are like finance investment platforms like fintechs. They were the first ones to cut people because people start pulling out their money, right?

So if you're a purely finance recruiter, that's terrifying where you've got the flexibility like from tech and you can be agnostic with the types of companies you work with.

If you have a good commercial understanding of how the market works, how growth happens, how companies make money, that's going to give you a better insight
into where there is going to be work.

So that'll be the first thing.

How can I improve that commercial understanding?

I think it's just research like read up on it, you know, ask, ask hiring managers.

Are you dealing with people that are
generally either CEOs or CTOs or whatever?

You know, they are in those positions because they have a good commercial understanding.

And if you go to meetings or whatever, it's a really good way of starting to have that conversation go through events again.

Those people would love just nothing more than to sit there for hours and talk about the market and talk about growth and talk about what companies are doing. So even in your own time, you're in research, just this growth outlook.

And YouTube is a great. And face to face events are back. I'm seeing fewer of the big face to face events that used to be around.

And what I'm seeing is like these almost like these kind of micro events, right?

15 people will get together.

They're all in a WhatsApp group and then they just kind of go to the pub together.

It's not very formal, but more of a community. Yeah, they're becoming more common.

Anything else?

On what makes an adaptable recruiter.

Yeah, I do.

I do think that.

So, so definitely have to be commercial.

I think that's a really important factor.

I think the, I think mindset is, is very important.

Like you have to be naturally curious as an individual. You it's a good way to think if you're constantly going out and asking questions and you're talking to people
that are in different businesses at different levels, asking those questions not only to help you learn, but you're going to uncover more opportunities.

And if you just naturally have that or if you train yourself to be like that consistently asking you know, why this, how this what this that's going to lead to more roles, which means you can be able to adapt a little bit more effectively.

I think if you think about adaptability, one of the core parts that is really,
really important is your process.

I think you can adapt the areas that you look at, you can adapt the people you speak to, but your process has to be tight, whatever you're doing right?

And I'm talking from the real basics, like, you know, a prescreen or a job qualification, like the real basics, that has to be really tight.

And if you are doing that really well, then it doesn't really matter.

If you're changing your industry, focus slightly, if you’re changing the type of skill sets you're looking at slightly. As long as that process is good, then you're generally going to have an opportunity to eliminate as much of that risk as possible.

And linked to that as well is a big, big focus on like the experience that you are giving people, right? Whether it's a client or whether it's a candidate, the experience that you give them in that 30 minute, 45 minute window for the first time that you're speaking to them is so important because that's what makes you stand out, right?

We’re an industry where the barriers to entry are pretty low, right? There's a reason why recruitment has a bad name, but the easiest way to stand out is by going and having those conversations with candidates and clients and delivering an experience.

They can be like, Oh wow, that was really good. That created a lot of value for me and they’re going to remember it.

And I think if you bring all of those things together, then I think you can. You're going to have somebody who can do really well.


Any final tips for somebody on being able to deliver that top level candidate and client experience?

I think the of one is always going to be a little bit trickier because ultimately recruiters are going out there talking about jobs.

I think you need to be a little bit more creative with it.

And this might be actually one of the things that make you adaptable.

If you're creative with the ways that you approach candidates the value that you add.

If you can think a little bit outside the box and give them value in some way.

So for example, with candidates, doing some career coaching or giving them some advice on their CV or helping them understand the lay of the land when it comes to share options, when it comes to offers.


Because a lot of candidates that we speak to just aren't too familiar with the intricacies of how that works.

As long as they come away from those conversations with value and they feel like they're able to come back to you and that you've built on that relationship and you care, then that that is going to stand out with clients.

I think this is the important thing.

You don't want to be an order taker.

If you're talking to a client about a job, you don't want to sit and just be like, okay, tell me exactly what you need.

I'm going to go and find that right.
That's just lazy.

I think where clients really see the values, where they're challenged, you know, where you're asking the questions that maybe other people don't have the guts to ask and, you know, asking them questions like, well, we have these other companies that we've worked with, why would a candidate pick you?

But making clients think and getting them in a position where they're walking away from that like, oh, that was actually quite a difficult conversation.

Well, they you know, they really provoke some thinking in me. That's one of the things that they that's going to stick with them because they going feel like they learn something and they're probably not expecting that when they're going out and speaking to recruiters.

And so, yeah, I think definitely getting them to learn something, giving them value and doing it in a way that stands out, that's probably what I’d say.


‍Sounds like it’s challenging
expectations of recruiters as well, on both sides.

So you're just throwing in the purpose.

Thank you very much for watching 'What's in the Pipeline?' today.

I hope that you can take away some practical tips and learnings from Nick's wise words and see your next episode.

Nick Charalambous