What will be the big recruitment trends of the year asks Pete Holliday, managing director of Sopra Steria Recruitment.

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With January already behind us and as we look further ahead to 2019, the recruitment profession is sure to undergo further changes over the next 11 months. With more companies than ever directing all their staffing spend towards RPO providers, or otherwise increasing the effectiveness of their internal direct attraction and hiring processes, recruitment businesses will be faced with many challenges throughout 2019 and will have to adapt in order to determine new paths for growth. Here are some of the biggest trends that I believe will take place. 

The growth of internal recruitment teams

One trend that I am confident will continue is the increased sophistication with which employers and internal hiring teams attract candidates, driving attraction through powerful employee brand messages. This is creating, and will continue to create a change in the market, and the most successful external recruitment partners will be those that complement internal recruitment and retention programmes. Therefore, responding to change is business critical. HR recruitment models and ‘external’ service providers are increasingly overlapping in responsibilities, and recruiters must adapt and evolve, and offer complimentary solutions that can add value to operations. Simply providing ‘transactional’ recruitment will not be enough. The most successful recruitment partners will be the ones who can truly engage with internal teams, develop stronger relationships and work in harmony to everyone’s benefit, focusing on the areas that their clients are need assistance, whether that be screening and vetting , assessment or response management , and acting accordingly.

The rise of managed service recruitment

Given the accelerated rise of client contractor recruitment spend moving away from multiple suppliers to managed service providers, staffing companies and MSPs/RPOs must work more collaboratively so that they can enjoy mutual success.  Smaller, niche firms will be able to see great benefits when working with these larger companies as it gives them the opportunity to provide talent to potentially huge organisations which may previously not have considered them as standalone propositions, not to mention the chance to form meaningful connections with these companies. MSPs and RPOs will also need to create fully effective partnership models in order to take advantage of the outsourcing of contractor supply by employers who require external partners due to wariness towards ‘direct’ engagement with workers and the complexities of IR35. The most successful of these will be the MSP companies which truly engage with their partners and embrace contractual risks as well as benefits. Ultimately, passing the full risk and liability down the supply chain is a flawed concept as smaller recruitment companies are not the ones responsible for total supply, yet they are essential to both the client and the MSP. Therefore, outsourced contractor models and partnering, rather than subcontracting, with a small number of niche strategic suppliers will be the preferable approach. By creating fair, honest and open relationships, everyone wins and value is sustained.


The use of automation, will continue to accelerate as we progress into 2019. Many people tend to fear these developments as something that will replace jobs, or take business away from their companies, however, I believe that they will serve as a job-enabler. By automating and streamlining some of the most monotonous tasks, recruiters will be able to focus on the parts of the job requiring human touch more than ever. The real winners in this case will be those who seek to use technology to enhance the productivity of existing employees, not those who see it as purely a cost cutting method and a way to reduce staffing spend.  We have been here before, when VMS platforms were first introduced they were seen as replacements for professional recruiters: clearly not the case, as they have helped the recruitment profession develop and grow.

Raising the bar on standards

At a time when transparency and accountability are becoming increasingly important across the business landscape, professional standards in recruitment are rising in value. The days of simply surviving or growing on short-termism are over. Today’s resource managers, employers and buyers of services are all seeking partners which operate to the highest standards in terms of best practice, professionalism, business knowledge, legislation and compliance – and recruiters who can add real value in this area will thrive. While trade bodies such as APSCo are helping to drive this change, it is ultimately the responsibility of individual firms to ensure that they can differentiate their service offering and people as being both consultative and compliant. Market expertise is also vital: in order to be a truly valued partner, you must know your customers business and sector as well as your own. Buyers will no longer engage recruitment service providers who do not excel in this respect, so the best in the recruitment profession, rather than necessarily the largest, will dominate the market.

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