Contrasting signals

There are certainly signs of economic green shoots, but what will the next year hold in store for our industry? Recruitment insiders give their new year predictions

Rosaleen Blair, founder and CEO, Alexander Mann Solutions
“In 2010, there will greater focus on managing attrition and retaining talent. We anticipate that as the job market improves, employees will regain confidence and start to proactively look for new opportunities. Outsourcing is still very much on the agenda, with HR department looking to get most value from their recruitment budgets. And investment in employer branding will increase, especially in those sectors which have had their reputations knocked during the recent difficult times.”

Kevin Blair, senior recruitment manager EMEA, Oracle
“I am not sure that 2010 will be the recruitment Utopia some recruiters believe it will be. I think as we move through the year things will start to improve. Many candidates have ‘sat it out’ during the uncertain times and will now start to look for a career move with a little more confidence. One of the positive things to come out of a recession is that it forces organisations to become smarter about their spend. Next year companies will be more innovative in how they use social media and web 2.0 products to get access to the candidate pool. This channel has now proved itself across many sectors as being consistent, reliable and cheap.”

Susan Bor, director, group resourcing, RBS
“Ensuring we have candidate confidence in our employer brand remains key at RBS. This is about ensuring people realise that while we have had and continue to have challenges we are very much in the market for talented individuals. Our employer brand must be engaging and compelling, and we have a task to reassure potential candidates that we still offer fantastic opportunities with unparalleled development and comparative benefits packages.”

Michael Brewer, consultant, Cordoba Group
“What will 2010 offer? The bad news is probably more of the same as in 2009. The name of the game will be change, however. The days of piling CVs high and selling them not so cheaply are coming to an end. Employers will look for more added value from all their suppliers, including recruiters. They’ll want more help defining profiles and testing candidates. The challenge will be make sure that consultants have the skills and expertise to deliver the value employers and candidates are looking for.”

Jerry Collier, international RPOdevelopment director, Kenexa
“I see two main themes for 2010. The first is recruiting firms scaling-up their operations in a phased approach — demand often leading capacity. Secondly, there will be greater focus on the ‘quality candidate’, identifying where they are and what message to carry to them, to balance the noise about alternative sourcing channels such as Twitter. It’s going to be exciting for RPO as we take more accountability for the quality of hire! Recruiting in 2010 will be about clarity, execution and outcomes.”

Tim Cook, managing director, Hays UK & Ireland
“Hays already had strong structures in place with an experienced management team and an agile business, but this year we had to redirect resources into areas of opportunity, whilst retaining our footprint in the more established areas. We undertook a complete transformation programme to allow us to offer our customers even more insight, expertise and consultancy. Whatever happens next year we are well positioned to take advantage of opportunity where it arises.”

Tony Dandridge, CEO and cofounder, Saber Analytics
“It is my view that moving throughout the forthcoming months and years, recruitment company owners will focus on delivering increased sales activity through improved monitoring of areas such as KPI analysis, together with improved internal competition and increased motivation of consultants’ performance.”

Albert Ellis, CEO, Harvey Nash
“The outlook is that a recovery is underway, with recruiters seeing fairly flat financial results on a like-for-like 2009 basis (ie excluding cost of restructuring) and with considerable downside risks. The baseline comparatives at least will appear flattering, which will help confidence but UK unemployment will rise, albeit at slower rates than 2009. Europe will lag behind the rest of the world due to the inflexibility of their labour markets but expect increased productivity of the European contract labour force in line with demand increases.”

Peter Felix, president, the Association of Executive Search Consultants
“I am encouraged by reports from search consultants around the world that the market is slowly but surely improving and that the demand for executive talent is once again asserting itself. It is inevitable that top management will be assessing their market opportunities in the post-recession world and that gaps or weakness in senior management ranks will need addressing. I am optimistic that 2010 will prove to be a better year for executive search.”


Mandy Ferries, head of personnel and training, JD Wetherspoon
“We have seen an increase in applicants for positions this year and I would expect that to continue in 2010. We are also experiencing our lowest labour turnover figures ever and as a result have a stable workforce. Based on our experiences, I think the recruiters who will have the edge in 2010 will need to be able to deliver the best candidates in their class and listen to employers’ needs. Employers are in an enviable position of having a large pool of experienced candidates to chose from and we will be setting high standards and requirements for hires in 2010.”

Paul Jacobs, managing director, LoveWorkLife
“Recruiters should view the new year with a mixture of optimism and a degree of introspection. Movement in the job market bodes well for the industry, but the same intense feeling of seeking pastures new for the UK workforce will also influence the thinking of valued consultants and managers - not to mention outstanding temporary workers and contractors. Now is the time to display tangible displays of appreciation through a wide variety of meaningful methods, including benefits, development and a focus on creating an enviable company culture. The future looks brighter, but it will be prudent to adopt a ‘back to basics’ attitude as the market grows.”

Richard MacMillan, chief executive, PULSE
“Workforce optimisation and flexible working practices will remain central to the services that we offer in 2010 as further changes in healthcare regulation and government targets put increased pressure on the NHS to deliver more with less budget. Global shortages of specialist health and social care staff are also set to increase further, so the NHS needs staffing providers to be agile and responsive in this marketplace to increase and reduce resources according to demand. As the NHS faces up to the reality of finding up to £20bn of savings by 2014, people have never been more important so we don’t expect demand for staff to waver.”

John Maxted, managing director, Digby Morgan
“Although we keep reading that the recession is over, our experience is that there is still a degree of uncertainty and we would expect this to continue at least for some months yet. We are seeing signs of improvement and, in some areas, an upward trend. We’re all expecting 2010 to bring a much rougher ride in the UK public sector as the cuts we’ve heard so much about take effect. HR should be proud of how it continues to manage the challenges of the recession. There is a growing acknowledgement in boardrooms that effective best practice in HR will continue to ensure that businesses emerge from the recession stronger than ever.”

Matthew Parker, group managing director, StepStone Solutions
”There’s no question that there will be more movement of staff. I think the ‘talent tsunami’ is coming; the key message is that the war for talent didn’t ever go away. Another thing that is really clear to me is that it is almost impossible to predict, with any degree of accuracy, what is going to happen to the economy without looking back over a 7-10-year period. But what we do know from that history is that good people are always in demand, and especially so in a recovering economy as companies plan for the future.”

Christine Raynaud, ex-CEO, Hudson UK
“There has been a sense of stabilisation across Europe after the summer with pick up, even, in sectors and markets where the fall had been most violent. However, this could be a mechanical correction; GDP predictions for 2010 are too low to enable job creation. The recent turmoil in Dubai shows the underlying fragility in the financial markets and decline could be feared in public sector spending. There are, as always, opportunities in niche segments and for the best consultants but overall, the market outlook for 2010, while probably an improvement over 2009, is still very fragile and uncertain.”

Charles Russam, chairman, Russam GMS
“This year has been a curate’s egg of a year for the interim management sector. Most providers can’t remember a time of greater supply over demand. Public sector spending and interim assignments are widely expected to reduce in 2010 but I don’t think this will be as severe as many anticipate. With only modest recovery in the private sector, any strong reduction in public sector would simply damage recovery prospects at a time when serious help is needed. As always, there will be work to be had but 2010 will be only marginally busier than 2009 with the better performing providers being those who try harder, seriously innovate and deliver more of a quality service than their competitors.”


Jonathan Young, staffing lead, Lockheed Martin UK
“As the world’s largest global security company we see 2010 as a year of opportunity. Through robust organisational development and focused talent acquisition Lockheed Martin continues to deliver great innovation and add value to our customers. Outsourced staffing solutions, development of our employer brand, improving assessment capability as well as our graduate and industrial trainee programmes provide the foci for our resourcing team. Finding the balance between cost and quality of hiring will be essential if we are to support the business to continue to deliver exceptional performance.”

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