Changes to the Recruitment Industry and the Impact it will have on Independent Professionals

Sean Piggott from our Business Development Team discusses the impact increased technology use will have on the recruitment industry and in turn, how this will affect Independent Professionals.

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From a professional standpoint, few professionals were tasked with a similar challenge to those working in the recruitment sector in 2020 and 2021.
Last year was certainly tough on recruiters. The pandemic, as well as its consequences devastated many teams in acquisition as projects were paused, delayed or in the worst-case scenario cancelled.

Recruitment consultants and specialists had to adapt to an increased workload and demand as their client’s desires changed, almost instantly. The uncertainty in the environment also had a negative impact on organisations proceeding with their recruitment strategies.
Those that were brave enough to proceed with their strategies were faced with the completely new challenge of remote onboarding. Pre March 2020, 95% of companies did not have any such policies in place, again adding to the workload of the recruiter who is the point of contact for both sides of the agreement.

In this blog piece, we examine some of the changes to the recruitment sector over the past 18 months and four of the biggest trends that we expect to continue beyond 2021. Significantly, we will also discuss the potential impact these trends will have on the independent professional community.


Shift to Contingent Culture

Organisations now more than ever before are favouring the contingent workforce model.
It is a well-known fact that World leaders across the most prominent industries such as tech and pharma have valued this model for over a decade, however, we are now seeing employers of all sizes exploring the benefits that are associated with this increasingly popular type of employment.

Following such a complicated year in 2020, it is no surprise that businesses of all sizes globally are reconsidering and revaluating their recruitment practices and talent acquisition strategies. International reports show that 73% of surveyed managers believe that they will hire more contingent workers that they ever have before.
With the increased demand for independent professionals, it is inevitable that their will be an increase in the number of people entering the sector for the first time. Some may fear that this increased level of supply will dilute the opportunities within the industry, but our opinion is that independent professionals with any contact experience whatsoever will have an advantage against newcomers as they have already shown and proven their ability to adapt to remote onboarding, remote training, and remote working.


The Remote World

Working remotely has long been identified as one of the main benefits associated with working in the contracting sector. That being said, not every contracting position offered that level of flexibility, there were certain roles that were said to be impossible to conduct remotely.

In most cases, this was proven to be untrue in 2020 as companies were forced into adapting a remote work policy, many of whom seem destined to continue offering the option to their workers. There have been various benefits reported with offering remote work, including but not limited to, wider talent pools, increased staff morale and improved talent retention. This hasn’t come without considerable challenges too as onboarding, training and collaboration processes develop with each hire.

This shift in directive presented further challenges for recruitment consultants as applications increased and client’s demands also intensified based on the fact that hiring companies now needed candidates that could work well in a remote environment whilst still being capable of communicating and collaborating effectively with their peers, despite not being face to face.

Digital interviews are also here to stay with a recent Gartner survey carried out with HR professionals showing that 86% of organisations have or are implementing technology to interview candidates. A separate study showed that 61% of recruitment professionals expected video interviews to be the default medium moving forward, particularly for first round and entry level roles.

It is little surprise that the most sought-after skills in the last 12 months have often included strong communication skills, initiative, ease with technology and flexibility.

This new widely accepted remote culture will impact independent professionals in numerous ways. Ireland is renowned for tech talent and with geographical barriers to employment disappearing, remote opportunities for international clients are increasing.


The Role of Artificial Intelligence

Recruiters have had to adapt to the new demands of hiring and onboarding extremely quickly, many experts are now predicting that the pandemic has accelerated the integration of technology and it will in fact be the driving force behind the evolution of artificial intelligence within the recruitment sector.

Recruitment has always been a high-touch industry but with more candidates, less geographical barriers, and intensified demands from hiring clients, AI is tipped to be the next game-changer in talent acquisition.

Whilst artificial intelligence cannot and will not replace the increasingly important role of the recruiter, it can and will however, automate the repeatable processes, giving recruiters more time to focus on the more personal side of the role. Recent studies show that recruiters can spend up to 23 hours screening and shortlisting for a single hire, whereas AI will have the potential to screen thousands of candidates instantly a provide a shortlist of candidates specific to each client’s needs.
It has even been suggested that the rollout of artificial intelligence is merely the start of technological advances in the sector, with onboarding and training processes being designed and delivered through Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.

Recruitment experts worldwide predict that the most difficult challenge for the recruitment industry will not be rolling out this technology but instead, ensuring they can maintain a personal connection through a virtual recruitment process.

What does this mean for independent professionals? It means that your network is becoming increasingly important. You can find more tips and hints on how to make your LinkedIn profile stand out from the crowd here, or get insight from experienced Contracting experts who highlight  networking as a priority for professionals new to the sector here.


Digital Skills Assessments

The last trend that we envision continuing throughout 2021 and beyond is in line with the increased use of technology within the sector. As touched on in the last point, artificial intelligence will undoubtedly be used to continue driving efficiencies.

Many hiring clients have used digital skills assessments as part of an application process. These assessments not only help to identify ideal candidates, specific to each role within an organisation, they also help to identify skillsets and characteristics that do not come across in a Curriculum Vitae or written applications.
Evidence suggests that those within the recruitment industry who have implemented technology now recognise digital assessments as a vital practice to establish more efficient candidate screening.

As part of revisiting and revaluating current recruitment strategies, organisations have put an increased emphasis on achieving diversity within teams.
Skills based testing and applications, despite the possibility that they may upset an expert’s ego, allow hiring clients to recruit based on intrinsic talent rather than their experience or background, thus resulting in the removal of unconscious bias and reported longer happier hires.

Skills testing as part of an application process will undoubtedly level the playing field in what is destined to become a more competitive market. This will put a major focus on up-skilling for independent professionals. Up-skilling has always played a major role in fast-tracking your progress up the Contracting ladder towards higher daily rates and a successful contracting career. If you are interested in finding more about up-skilling, you can read our guide here with some insight on industries that are expected to boom or alternatively, you can check out our video on iPerks by Icon Accounting and how it can help you to achieve your contracting goals.


It is almost transparent it is so clear that the use of technology within the recruitment industry will change aspects of recruitment for all organisations.
The companies that embrace this change and implement a comprehensive digital recruitment experience from screening right through to onboarding and training will position themselves at the front of the pack. Likewise, candidates that prepare for this change and become familiar with these trends and processes will also be best placed for the best opportunities in a market that can only be described as booming.

If you have experienced changes in the recruitment process for independent professionals, we would love to hear from you!
Alternatively, if you feel that working as an independent professional is something you would like to know more about, please feel free to get in touch with us at or by calling us directly on 01-8077106.


Sean Piggott

Business Development Manager

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