Within a matter of months, recruitment has become candidate centric. With a skills shortage and high levels of employment, the candidate is now in control and has the pick of recruitment agencies. So what does this new recruitment environment mean – how can companies ensure they are in the best position to compete in the Year of the Candidate?

The key is to create the right team, with the right skills, working together in the right way. As Toby Conibear, European Business Development Director at Bond International Software, explains, both client and candidate expectations of a recruitment consultant have changed radically and companies must empower consultants with the right culture, skills and technology to support the new candidate centric business model.

New Skills Set

While a burgeoning jobs market may seem to offer unprecedented opportunities for recruiters to make money, the demands being placed on recruitment consultants today are new and challenging. In the past, a consultant could rely on great inter-personal communication and an understanding of a specific market area; but these skills alone simply don’t cut it in today’s 24×7, social media dominated world.

Today’s consultants require not only great face to face communication skills, but also familiarity with social media, search tools and mobile technology. Consultants need to know not only how to use LinkedIn and Facebook – that is a given. They must also understand when to pick up conversations online, how and when to engage with a potential candidate, and have the confidence to identify the best time to escalate the relationship to a face to face meeting. Switched on consultants will also proactively exploit the power of social media to build reputations, for example by encouraging both clients and candidates to make recommendations after a successful placement.

Rapid Turnaround

In this market, with growing numbers of job vacancies, speed of turnaround – from candidate location and recommendation through to interview – is becoming critical. However, with the ever expanding raft of internal and external data sources, it can be easy for consultants to miss candidates if they continue to use the old, tried and tested approaches to search.

It is therefore essential that companies continually review the fast developing range of innovative search tools now available and both train and encourage consultants to explore these tools to ensure maximum exposure to the market. From formal training courses to informal mentoring or simply building a culture of skills sharing, a company can ensure that consultants rapidly gain essential skills in search technology and techniques.

Indeed, the evolution of company culture is an essential aspect of the new model required in the Year of the Candidate. Companies need employees that are willing and able to learn new skills; and they also need staff that are committed to working more flexible hours. Given the turnaround times now increasingly demanded by clients and the job surfing undertaken by candidates during evenings and weekends, consultants working nine to five, Monday to Friday, will miss out on key opportunities. It is therefore essential to introduce new ways of working, such as shifts, evening only, or even considering an ‘on call’ model.

However, simply arming staff with smart phones and tablets to enable them to check email is not good enough. Consultants need complete mobile access to the CRM plus a willingness to use real time access to information in order to improve responsiveness at every stage of the process.

Facilitating & Achieving Collaboration

Given this new pace of recruitment and the need to enable more flexible working practices to support the extended working week, it is becoming important to enable consultants to work together more effectively. A collaborative model offers huge benefits from business expansion to enabling individuals to concentrate on their strengths rather than weaknesses.

While offering significant opportunities, a collaborative business model is not a traditional approach for the recruitment industry that has, to date, been very focused on individual performance. To make collaboration work, companies will require a fundamental change in culture, embracing a top down approach that actively embeds collaboration and information sharing across the organisation, rewards individuals and fosters innovation.

To enable this shift, it is essential to be able to easily share information across the business – from hot candidates to new leads. Underpinning the right culture with effective technology is key to creating a truly collaborative business model.

Empowering Effective Recruitment

It is also important in a collaborative model to ensure that an individual’s key skill sets are recognised and used effectively. Few consultants will be skilful at face to face communications and social media and search – it is important to be able to support consultants in different areas.

Using tools to track activity in the CRM, a company can rapidly identify the strengths and weaknesses of staff – and quickly reveal areas in which the business overall may be weak.  This insight can be used to introduce appropriate training or mentoring to develop new skills and determine the profiles and skill sets required by new recruits.

Given the huge changes in both technology and culture now being embraced, it is also important to look to the future. Does the current recruitment process still work in this market? Would it be more efficient to adopt a new model that evolves from the one candidate/one consultant approach to a more collaborative one that leverages the strengths of individuals?

Innovative thinking is also required to attract the right people – post Google, millennials are looking for more than a good financial package. Does the business have a positive, collaborative culture? What makes it a good place to work? Attaining the right balance of skills diversity, collaborative process and company culture is going to be increasingly important to retain a competitive position.


The recruitment market is changing rapidly – and organisations that fail to respond will struggle to remain competitive. In addition to putting the right teams with the right skills in place and facilitating efficient and candidate centric business processes through collaboration, agility is key. Organisations need to recognise that the needs of both clients and candidates are changing – in a fast evolving marketplace, business agility is going to be essential to respond rapidly to newly identified opportunities.

The new skill sets required across the business are significant. It is now essential to identify any gaps and use training, mentoring and the introduction of new staff to achieve the breadth of skills required – and to ensure the right technologies are in place to enable staff to exploit both expertise and experience.

With the right business culture, a cross-skilled, collaborative work force will be empowered to not only respond to the challenges faced in 2015 but will drive innovation, identify opportunities for growth and underpin continued success.

[Image Credit: Shutterstock]

About Toby Conibear

Toby Conibear has worked for Bond since 1996. His career began as a Technical Support Consultant, then he worked as an Account Manager, before becoming Head of European Sales. Currently, he is responsible for driving growth of the EMEA business region, specialising in large scale multinational deployments. Working as Group Business Development Director, Toby is part of the Bond board leadership team.

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