The Last Word July/August 2021: Alan Furley

Recruitment is dead, long live recruitment!

It’s a funny old world, recruitment. Sales, by its very nature, is a very ‘in-the-moment’ experience.

While I’d not go so far as to say it’s exactly mindful, you need to be present in what you’re doing to ensure opportunities are not missed.

But recruitment businesses must stay ahead of the game.

And the job of industry leaders is to look in front and see where the road is heading to help our teams navigate, receive the right information, skills and tools to do their job to the best of their ability.

Now the phrase ‘evolve or die’ springs to mind”

It feels like we’ve not done too badly so far. In some ways, our industry feels more robust and sure of itself since the pandemic. After all, we’ve weathered a storm that few of us could have predicted or planned for.

Our definition of ‘BAU’ (business as usual) has gone through, in some cases, a week-by-week transition. This hopefully means we’re more agile, more focused and more aware of what the market and our clients need.

But these changes have led me to look at the world in a different way and realise that, in fact, we don’t want it to go back to the ‘norm’. Instead, I believe looking ahead at different kinds of recruitment models is now business critical.

The area we see this most rapidly evolving is in diversity & inclusion. I don’t know of many recruiters that have really, fully grasped what this means and how to properly make the changes many of us are talking about in client pitches and meetings.

Whether it’s lack of talent pool, misunderstanding of what the issues are or mis-matching candidates with roles, it feels we’re still struggling – and indeed could even be going backwards.

I’ve done a lot of work with tech companies recently whose sole purpose is to create a fairer playing field for everyone. Some of these businesses have been started by recruiters and some have come from the D&I or academic side of the issue.

It’s taught me that, while traditional recruitment will always have its place, we are being seriously challenged by innovative thinking that will be less obvious than the damage of a global pandemic, but fairly lethal nonetheless.

The reason is that the people behind the tech come at these issues with a completely new perspective, unhampered by years of phone bashing and rejection. And the more I am around it, the more I realise that this is exactly the kind of mindset needed if we are to help business solve today’s biggest problems.

This may not be ‘new’ news, but as we do truly emerge from the pandemic the world of innovation and technological advancement has only – and in some cases exponentially – increased the march on our city walls.

Up until the pandemic I think I was, like many other founders and owners of recruitment businesses, pretty confident in the level of tech we used as it was mixed with so many traditionally sound and effective methods.

Now the phrase ‘evolve or die’ springs to mind.

While that may sound a bit dramatic, we cannot just sit back and celebrate our recent victories too much without moving forward with technological solutions at the forefront of our thinking.

Otherwise, we will indeed be crowning the new kings and queens of tomorrow’s hiring industry – and they won’t be anyone we know. 

Alan Furley is a director at ISL Recruitment

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