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How Has the Pandemic Changed Recruitment Agencies - What Agency Recruiters are Looking for in Their Next Move

Article Background

After a very strange 18 months in recruitment, the industry that seemed to be struggling last year has bounced back with an absolute bang and the number of roles and demand out there for experienced recruiters, in what has always been a very candidate short market, is higher than ever!

Most agencies have always mixed up hiring new and junior consultants along with making experienced hires (some agencies and industries have only hired juniors to train up) but the effects of the pandemic seem to have changed that significantly. Yes, there are still some agencies out there hiring grads and candidates with no recruitment experience (although these seem to be the agencies who are telling their staff that they must be in the office 5 days a week and have not offered any flexibility through the pandemic) but the majority of role out there are for experienced recruiters.

The cause of this shift in hiring patterns?

Simply put – a pandemic and flexible working! Whilst working from home, not being in the office to train develop and listen to newer and inexperienced recruiters on the phones being able to coach and nurture them has become much harder. Also, most agency recruiters are busier than ever, with more jobs than ever, and the need for employers is someone who can hit the ground running. Due to this, good agency recruiters are being headhunted and approached more than ever – in fact, one person I approached recently had been approached 11 times in 1 week!  Recruiters are notoriously the worst for taking their own advice – they always encourage candidates to have that career conversation with them, but never want to have it themselves. Is it because they truly are happy, or is it that when you are approached that many times all roles sound the same? Or another reason altogether?

What do recruiters want?

I recently conducted a poll to my Linkedin connections. The result showed there has been a shift in what recruiters are looking for when they do make that move. Recruitment has traditionally been an industry where you are in the office 5 days a week and working longer hours than most (when else are you going to speak to candidates who work but before and after working hours!?) but if the pandemic has taught us anything its that it doesn’t have to be this way. In my poll, 44% of recruiters said the most important thing they will be looking for in their next recruitment role is flexibility. From an industry that has not been known for flexibility, this is a huge shift! In fact, the majority of conversations I have been having since earlier this year is that people have not felt comfortable being told they have to be in the office every day for long hours and would prefer the work-life balance that has and will continue to be the new norm. Interestingly, a lot of recruiters got into the industry for a quick career progression route in a way that was clear cut and set out from day 1, only 19% stated clear career progression would be important when looking for their next move, while 35% would be looking at the salary, commission and benefits package on offer. Of course, the ideal is to have a mix of all of the above, but in a sales and target driven environment like recruitment, it's interesting to see the shift towards flexibility rather than it being all about money and promotions. As a recruiter reading this – what’s the most important thing to you and will you be looking for in your next role?

If you want to find out more about how we are doing things differently at Pro and how we just might hit the mark on your list of what you want out of your next role over, speak to Loren on 07539 888 231 or email

Loren von Sternberg