Last week’s figures showing further falls to unemployment in the UK have been met with despair by some recruitment industry leaders, fearing tough times with fewer people looking for work.
There comes a time in many industries where outside pressures, changing technologies and shifting economies force you to make some bold choices, or face terminal decline. High street retail is going through its own momentous shift right now and while recruitment is not experiencing the same pressures as retail – nowhere near – to listen to the negativity lately of some of this industry’s leaders, I fear we are in danger of talking ourselves into a crisis.
The news this week that unemployment has once again shrunk by another 55,000 to 1.36 million was being met with yet more doom-laden forecasts for recruitment. With job creation also reportedly slowing and a smaller pool of talent available, the language is becoming defeatist.
I can’t accept this. As an industry, I believe we have a choice to make. We can either make decline a self-fulfilling prophecy and talk our way to become a second or third tier insignificant industry, or we can grasp the nettle and show the sort of positivity, adaptability and resilience we need to thrive well into the future.
Recruitment has helped power the UK economy forward for decades now, and we shouldn’t lose sight of just how far this industry has come. We’ve had tough times before and recruitment has changed with it. We’ve adapted and continued to move with the times. We’ll thrive for many more years to come – if we want to.
My own company, The Recruit Venture Group, has, within the last few weeks, launched another three recruitment businesses, bringing the total amount of joint ventures we partner to 49. I firmly believe these new enterprises are launching at a great time. The new leaders of these three businesses couldn’t be more determined and excited to get going. That spirit is still very much alive and well in the industry.
To be overly focused on every set of figures that comes out nationally is to lose sight of the job of recruitment in the first place. Leaders in this industry should spend less time fretting over external factors they can’t control, and more on the things they can. Leadership should be about giving people the impetus to get out there and grow their desks, push their margins and explore new ways to meet the needs of clients and candidates. We must drive forward.
I accept that the shifting marketplace brings new challenges. It is harder to find candidates and we know there are real skills shortages across a range of sectors. But that also brings opportunities and I would argue that the rewards for getting recruitment right in this climate are as great as they have ever been. Things always change; it is about how we adapt.
Many industries will have moments where they need to step up and rise to a challenge. I think we are at one of those moments. For me, it is a simple choice. Either we become overwhelmed with downbeat forecasts and market uncertainty, or we tackle this current climate head-on, with boldness, with ambition and with positivity.
I’m firmly in the latter camp.