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Flexible working leads to flexible recruitment

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How is the talent acquisition process changing – and what will this mean for recruiters?


In recent years, estimates about how many global jobs will be taken over by machines in ten years time have been commonplace – the statistics vary wildly between 9% and 38%.  

Whats more certain is that the Fourth Industrial Revolution – an era of digitalisation, artificial intelligence and automated processes – means the lifespan of our job skills decreasing. As machine learning innovates age-old processes, transforming them faster in five years more than theyve changed over the past 25 years, whats expected of us in the workplace will change. 

Instead of being hired based on our current capabilities and experience, in the not-so-distant future, the best candidates will be those who learn quickly and who show the potential to adapt. For recruiters, this means the way they find and assess talent is about to evolve. 

Simultaneously, we are living through the Age of the Individual. Led by the mindset of millennials and Generation Z, the widespread demand for individual experiences is filtering down into what we expect from our careers. Its one of the drivers behind the rise in the global freelance workforce. 

In the past, the gig economy was not seen as a long-term career choice. But today, its increasingly becoming a way for people to take more control over their work-life balance and achieve more flexibility. By 2023, one in three employees around the world will be temporary workers. 

What does this mean for recruiters? The good news is, it opens up more opportunities to engage with a wider talent pool to fill a job role – with the growing number of people open to short-term contracts adding more possibilities. At the same time, these trends shaping talent acquisition will require recruitment professionals to take a flexible approach to recruitment.  

Having more choice of candidates than ever before is a great thing, but also a challenge. For starters, in order to cast the net as wide as possible, recruitment processes are likely to become even more digitally enabled. This will speed things up, and with the rise in temporary workers removing some of the lag that can occur with long-term contracts. At the same time, it means recruiters will need to make smart, fast hires in order to fill short-term roles at the pace of demand. There may also be more instances where they need to assess whether a long-term or short-terms hire is the best call. 

These are the core principles of flexible recruitment. A recent poll by North American HR firm Robert Half found that 97% of the international business leaders surveyed agreed that adopting a more flexible approach to recruitment would bring overwhelming benefits. 

36% believed it would give businesses more control over staffing costs, while 34% thought it would provide a solution for long-term absences (such as parental leave or sick leave). Other benefits of flexible recruitment identified in the poll were that it would lead to better management of workload changes and provide access to niche or technical skill sets. 

New challenges will arise with a flexible recruitment strategy. With a greater reliance on online portals to source potentially for to fill temporary roles with the very best talent, some companies may have concerns about the ability of these sites to assess the eligibility of candidates. And the Robert Half poll event found that 28% of business leaders were worried that contract workers were only freelancing because of their inability to find a permanent job. 

 The reality is that the global job market is undergoing a seismic shift. For recruiters, the altered career landscape of the global population calls for a new direction when it comes to talent acquisition – and a faster pace. Recruitment professionals will benefit from being close by to candidates, and having the option to easily access an array of suitable places to interview them at short notice. 

Candidates abilities will be assessed in new ways, for a whole new array of job roles, with varying contract length. A flexible recruitment strategy will be pivotal to staying competitive and finding the right match for clients. 


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