What is the future of recruitment post-COVID-19?

Isn’t this the burning question on every recruiter’s mind? As most of us sit socially distanced at home, biting our nails and glued to our screens, we can agree that things seem to be looking pretty bleak.

In fact, it’s enough to give any recruiter heart palpitations. Both agency and corporate recruiters. This is one thing we can finally agree on.

Who would have thought a pandemic is what would finally unify us?

As leaders are forced to conduct mass layoffs like this one while failing to hold back tears, we can be certain of this – most companies aren’t hiring.

They’re trying to hang on to what they have.

Agency recruiters are feeling the brunt as they watch everything they’ve build, well… crumble.

It’s so bleak that some are even offering to work for free (yes, you read that right — free) in the hopes that they’ll stay top of mind when the situation eventually improves post-COVID-19.

I know what you’re thinking…

“Doesn’t the title of this article say that things are actually looking good for recruiting?” 


It will eventually get better.

Things Will Improve, But The Future of Recruitment Will Look Very Different Post-COVID-19

Ugh, there’s that term again – “very different”.

You’ve already heard it 100 times in the last few weeks. Every single industry has prophesied that things will look differently.

What does that mean exactly for the future of recruitment post-COVID-19?

Every good recruiter is trained to ask follow-up questions (we wouldn’t be good interviewers otherwise). We’ve spent our careers digging deep. So we’re simply not satisfied hearing that things will be different.

What we want, is the nitty-gritty.

Those of you who’ve been reading my posts know that I’ve been pretty vocal about the Talent Acquisition industry needing an overhaul, so I welcome ‘different’. Assuming, of course, that different means more efficient and strategic.

Alright, let’s flesh this concept of ‘different’ out a bit more…

First, Let’s Talk About How Corporate Recruiting Will Change Post-COVID-19

Corporate Recruiters will be more strategic.

Recruitment is changingAs larger firms focus on internal hiring, Corporate Recruiters will be true Talent Advisors guiding hiring managers through the recruitment process.

They’ll be fostering better hiring practices while advocating for internal candidate experience.

Those of us who’ve been candidate experience enthusiasts, know that internal candidate experience is just as important as the experience of external candidates.

The more progressive companies who are serious about Talent Acquisition and Talent Management will finally include Corporate Recruitment at the table as they discuss workforce planning.

The fact that Corporate recruitment will be strategic is music to every Corporate Recruiters’ ears.

We all know that so many are under-utilized wading in process-heavy, transactional practices and juggling a sea of requisitions.

Companies’ first priority will want to stabilize their current workforce before hiring new talent.

Second on their list, is to reintegrating as many of their furloughed employees as they can afford.

What this means though, is that hiring, as we know it, will not be at the forefront for most companies for a while.

The investment focus (and budget, for that matter) may shift from acquiring talent to areas like R&D or Marketing and Sales.

What this means is that Corporate Recruitment teams will probably be smaller.

So Here’s What This Means for Agency Recruiters…

Even as they re-target, most companies will still need to hire vital new talent.

Since their internal Talent Acquisition teams may not be as large as they once were and will now be focused on internal recruiting and reintegration of furloughed employees, companies will need to outsource their new talent recruiting needs.

Of course, they won’t be frivolous, but they will need support with those hard-to-fill roles that all good agency recruiters are used to.

And Guess What Else Will Look ‘Different’?

You guessed it, the talent market.

War for talent

Companies will reabsorb a good portion of that amazing talent that was shed during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some companies will be fully remote by then and for those who are not, attracting talent will be an even bigger challenge than it once was before COVID-19.

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to join Zoom meetings in a black blazer, yoga pants and fuzzy slippers from the comfort of a home office? Especially when it means they don’t have to sit in traffic for two hours a day. That’s 10-hours a week and roughly over 500-hours a year. I’ll let that sink in… 500 hours!

It will be hard to go back to our old reality and many simply won’t. What was once acceptable will now seem outrageous.

With leaner internal Talent Acquisition teams and a stronger need to source passive talent and attract them, recruiting agencies and those offering Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) services will also be in demand.

Sadly Though, Some Recruiting Agencies Won’t Be Able To Ride The Wave

It’s bound to happen.

Whether it’s due to high overhead costs or incredibly low revenue, some recruiting agencies will have no choice but to fold. Many, however, will survive. They’ll restructure their teams, cut their overhead by going fully remote, niche down and pivot their hearts out.

Whatever it takes to stay in business.

Here’s What The Really Smart Recruiting Agencies Will Focus On Now…


People are consuming more content now than ever before. While some content is in the form of a Netflix series and YouTube clips, a lot is also in the form of professional blogs, email and video.

Some recruiting agencies will “keep it real” by sticking to traditional avenues of developing business – they’ll cold-call and when that doesn’t work, they’ll lower fees (sometimes no fees at all), which ultimately won’t work in the long-run either.

The agencies who will excel will use content and they will be the ones who will embrace the future of recruitment.

That content that they’re putting out will be instrumental in helping them stay top of mind and eventually succeed. They’ll develop their social and email marketing strategies to extend their reach.

Content is King

They will set themselves apart as go-to agencies who know their stuff because they’ve been conducting a ‘show and tell’ of their expertise and value to clients and would-be-clients all along.

They will continue to build relationships without asking for anything in return. Their bottom lines may be hurting now, but they’ll be using this time to tighten their processes, improve their skills, and prepare to thrive.

When companies are ready to hire, these recruiting agencies will be the ones to get the call to help.

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