The recruitment industry is 'in a state of flux at the moment' says Steve White, director at Calgary Communications

Steve White says 'the recruitment industry is in a state of flux at the moment'

With almost four decades of experience in the industry, Steve White has an in-depth knowledge of what’s needed to get ahead – or to at least stay afloat – in recruitment marketing in the current climate.

And while he believes that the core topics will remain the same – scarce talent, the changing candidate landscape, the transit from recruitment to brand led marketing, and diversity and equality – the defining factors over the next year will be political and economic.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months?

I don't think there's any surprise in that we're probably going to see at least a year or two of political and leadership turmoil. When uncertainty happens, businesses tend to pull their horns in. Decisions aren’t taken, or are delayed. Budgets are scrutinised for content and effectiveness. And often these are taken within corporate agendas rather than what is actually right for the business and their people.

The CIPD recognised the political element in their 2017 Resourcing and Talent Planning report, which is worth a read, and also noted that there is an increasing move towards the retention of top talent at all levels through talent management programmes and developing in-house capability in retention. These specialisms can be very effective, and become more so with the addition of an external perspective to bring in new ideas and best practices.

At Calgary we see this in more companies focusing on their own brand and seeking out people whose values line up with theirs as they begin to appreciate that vision and values really are their best recruiting and internal communications tools. We’ve seen a big shift towards the employee experience and how to develop and build culture, and there is an emerging trend towards linking employee engagement to the customer experience. Obvious I know, but it’s only gained traction in recent years, and you can see some of the results in the new wave of experiential applications in recruitment marketing and assessment.

What is your perspective on the current state of industry?

The industry is in a considerable state of flux at the moment. The older, more established agencies in the industry are losing ground to newer and more brand based businesses like Tonic and Pink Squid, both of whom have helped transform recruitment marketing recently. As business changes, agencies and their component parts have changed too – so we are seeing an increasing number of smaller businesses working in brand, engagement, culture and experience, and specialist businesses springing up in media and social.

I think there is along wat to go yet, but it all boils down to businesses and organisations being comfortable that the agency or consultancies that they work with understand the changing face of the industry and the merging of consumer and candidate brand and marketing techniques.

What has been the most innovative thing you have seen from the industry this year?

I think our industry is constantly innovative. Currently we’re not in the “big bang” innovation arena, but in more of a process of working out how to integrate the big emerging trends. What’s interesting is that some companies and organisations are grasping this faster than others and creating an advantage for themselves – come along to the RBA Awards night and you’ll see who’s doing it best.

The next big innovation heading towards us is Google for Jobs. Using and adapting Google Search, it has the capacity to completely change candidate behaviour. It’s in the US now, and will inevitable impact here soon.

Social continues its rise, but there are some signs that the rush towards it has abated a little as businesses begin to understand that it is a delivery channel and not a sliver bullet, and so needs careful thought and a significant investment in time and knowledge that the majority of businesses simply don’t have. There are some really good agencies out there that can help – businesses like Firefish – and again, come along to the RBA Awards night and see for yourself!

You are judging The Drum’s Recruitment Business Awards again this year, what do you want to see from the entries?

Yes – I think this is my sixth year as a judge and fourth as the chair, and I’m grateful to The Drum for giving me the opportunity to watch these awards grow and develop. I’ve seen over the years the industry recover – slowly – from the effects of the global financial crash and recession and initial recovery. I think the recruitment and resourcing marketing industries are a good barometer of business health and outlook, so it’s good to see the standard and volume of entries year on year. Last year was really good, so I’m looking forward to this year’s crop of entries.

This year’s judging panels are fantastic – there are two, one for the creative content and one for the recruitment consultancy businesses – with a wide range of experience and talent across both the client and agency side of the industry. I think I can speak for us all when I say that we will be looking for best in class, evidence of the thinking and strategy process, understanding of the market, and of course results.

How important do you think these awards are to the industry?

They are vital. Originally founded to give a voice to the business they operate with clients outwith the M25, they have developed into a vibrant showcase of the type of work and grasp of the changes and trends we’ve been talking about. The newer agencies that are always well represented at the RBAs are changing the face of the business, and we reflect that in the awards categories – so we have awards for craft, strategy, branding, and activation reflecting what’s going on and what’s best about the industry. I think they’ll continue to set standards for some time to come.

Steve is the chairman of the business panel at The Drum’s Recruitment Business Awards 2017. Heading into its fifteenth year, the awards seek out the very best of the recruitment industry and rewards them.

The deadline has now passed, but you can apply for an extension and enter your business now to showcase the fantastic work you have been doing over the past year.

Sponsors for this year's awards are: Total Jobs, The Drum Jobs, TINT, The Drum RAR and The Drum Network.

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Danielle Gibson

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