Back in April 2020, I left my last role as a Senior Consultant with a large global recruitment organisation to focus on my growing family. At the time Covid was taking hold, causing significant uncertainty and disruption, but little did I realise quite how much the sector would be affected! As much as I loved my time with my family, it felt like the right time for to make the transition back into the world at work.

How much could have changed?

My part-time return to recruitment this year with Slade Group has certainly been an eye-opener. Although the changes for most of my colleagues may have been gradual over the period, for me it was glaringly obvious from week one that recruitment as I knew it had changed (mostly for the better). I’d like to share my main observations over the last few months, which I’m sure will resonate with most professionals, whether you’ve been in or out of the workforce in recent years.

  1. The Rise of Remote Hiring, Virtual Interviews and Virtual Meetings
    Remote hiring practices have become the new standard, offering unprecedented flexibility for both recruiters and candidates. Virtual interviews, online assessments and remote onboarding processes have seamlessly integrated into our workflow, streamlining the hiring process, and expanding the talent pool beyond geographical constraints. I’m not alone in the belief that personal interaction is still highly beneficial where possible, but it is remarkable how much we can achieve virtually, if necessary.
  2. Work From Home
    Being a busy mum of two under 4 year olds, working from home has been a huge contributor to productivity in my role. Most parents can relate to how stressful it can be to manage the time constraints that come with caring for children. WFH allows me the flexibility to use my time more efficiently. I save time on commuting to and from the office and deliver better results when I’m not rushing around.
  3. Automation and AI in Recruitment
    While AI in various forms has been around in recruitment for some time, it wasn’t a big thing when I left my last role. I love how automation and other AI technologies have streamlined repetitive tasks, improving efficiency in recruitment processes and enabling us to respond much faster.
  4. The Importance of Company Culture
    Candidates are increasingly prioritising organisations that align with their values and offer a supportive and inclusive culture. Promoting company culture as a key selling point has become essential for attracting and retaining top talent.
  5. Emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
    The focus on DEI has grown significantly, prompting recruiters and organisations to prioritise building diverse and inclusive workforces. Slade Group has always upheld unbiased hiring practices, so it’s fantastic to see employers actively seeking candidates from diverse backgrounds.
  6. Shift Towards Skills-Based Hiring
    Traditional credentials that might include formal qualifications or years of experience are no longer the sole focus when recruiting. Hiring managers now place greater emphasis on a candidate’s skills, capabilities, and development potential. This shift allows us to identify individuals who can adapt to evolving job requirements and contribute effectively to their organisations.
  7. Enhanced Candidate Experience
    Providing a positive candidate journey has become a competitive differentiator in the recruitment landscape. Investing in creating a seamless experience from the initial application process to onboarding is crucial for attracting and retaining top talent. This applies to recruiters as well as the hiring organisation.
  8. Focus on Soft Skills and Emotional Intelligence
    Beyond technical abilities, we are increasingly recognising the importance of soft skills such as emotional intelligence in the workplace. These qualities play a crucial role in building strong teams and fostering positive work environments.
  9. Finding Meaning in Work
    It’s more than just a pay cheque. We are seeing employees from all generations who want to contribute to meaningful work. Therefore, when placing candidates, it’s important that their values align with the company’s mission and vision to ensure a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their roles.

My return to recruitment has been both exhilarating and challenging. The industry has evolved into a more digital, diverse and dynamic environment, driven by technological advancements, and rapidly changing candidate expectations. Working closely with organisations to prioritise company culture, emphasising DEI initiatives, and helping candidates find meaning in their work, we can attract and retain top talent in this competitive landscape. As recruiters, it’s imperative to embrace these changes, adapt our strategies, and continue to innovate so that we thrive along with our clients and candidates in this exciting and evolving environment.