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Nasstar Prophecies : 2017 Recruitment Edition

In video, insight / By Guy Deterding / 18 January 2017

Welcome to the 2017 recruitment edition of the Nasstar Prophecies, where head of Nasstar For Recruitment, Guy Deterding, makes a valiant attempt to predict the future of the recruitment industry in 2017. In December, he asked some of the smartest people in recruitment what they thought was coming in the year ahead and then we talked about them in alive webinar that we recorded for those of you that missed it.

This article forms two parts, we have a 30 minute video of a webinar in which we discuss the key points of this article and then we summarise our discussion in the article below.

Change Will Bring Opportunity

The most obvious prediction Guy came across is perhaps one of uncertainty and change. In the wake of Brexit and a Trump win in the US, both events continue to be the source of a great deal of uncertainty.

The kinds of questions we pondered were 'What sort of President will Donald Trump be? Will the candidate be the President, or will we see a completely different man in office to the one we saw on the campaign trail?'

Some that we spoke to think that his presidency will kick start the M&A market and that intuitively, he will want to get businesses moving, but others are wondering at what cost and to whom?

Brexit has sent seismic shockwaves around Europe and to global markets.

Quite naturally, recruitment leaders are asking 'Will other countries choose to follow the same route? Will this threat, financial instability, or migration issues, drive the EU to further change? Will the UK be able to trigger article 50 legally, or affect a smooth exit?'

Uncertainty brings risk, but also creates opportunities, some businesses are using this as a chance to push ahead with their global ambitions and recruiters need to be well positioned to assist them with achieving these goals. The legal and financial markets are particularly active, and these are followed closely by recruitment activity in IT, projects and other key support functions.

High Levels Of Recruitment Activity

2017 is potentially going to be one of relatively high levels of recruitment activity, while overall employment levels stay fairly static. In response to high levels of change, companies are going to need to re-shape for the challenges ahead and that means adapting their internal skill-sets and capabilities. This will lead to an increase in temporary positions, as business leaders may not be quite willing to commit to a new direction whilst there is so much uncertainty and, no doubt, there will be further surprises in store as 2017 unfolds.

We received a number of predictions around technology in recruitment, and there were three main topics – security, automation (with integration), and mobility.

None of these will be a surprise as they have been leading themes for a while now but each, for different reasons, is reaching a critical point - “recruiters in 2017 will continue to face the ever-growing challenges around data security, automation and system integrations.”.


Security is in the news almost daily. Businesses in every industry are having their data or systems compromised. My nephew, who works in Financial Services, described the training they get to ensure they do not respond to social engineering.

Of course, it is in a different league to anything I have seen in recruitment, however they receive “fake” calls every day trying to elicit key information so they need to be prepared. The key here perhaps is that recruitment businesses must not assume they won’t be targeted – keeping your fingers crossed and hoping for the best is not best practice!

High profile examples include the recent hacking of Michael Page, when 700,000 jobseekers personal details were stolen in one of the biggest data breaches of a UK company ever. To make matters worse, Michael Page then took 11 days to notify those affected by the incident, causing outrage amongst the affected and untold damage to the corporate brand.

Two thirds of large businesses have been attacked in the last 12 months and whilst this may be a lower percentage for smaller firms, it is still a significant proportion, and when your good name is at stake how high does a risk need to be before it is taken seriously ?


This may seem slightly old hat, in that we have been talking about this for some years, but there is a world of difference between talking about this stuff and it becoming practical to implement commercially. However we have now arrived at this point and there is no real excuse not to include access from “anywhere” in your IT strategy.

The most exciting developments and technological advancements for recruiters will be in remote working and communication.

Traditionally, recruiters have held back from giving consultants access to all data from any location or device, but now the ability to lock things down and limit what can be done with data and documents can be built into systems, giving more control and finally bringing an end to the good old days of printing reams of CVs out overnight in the office!

One recruitment agency commented - “Consultants can spend a large amount of their time on planes, trains and cars, so they constantly need to have access to data and communication tools. Traditionally we’ve relied on a mixture of personal and company equipment, using on-device email apps, which are generally connected to unreliable phone networks. This isn’t working for us! Our consultants need constant access to company, client and candidate data without the hassle of connectivity issues.

Now, in 2017, we have the Microsoft (amongst others!) product stack which include identity management, encryption and productivity tools. These can provide fluid and seamless access to all this data, whether in the office or on the move. What’s more this can all be nailed down so that data is encrypted, access limited and what you can do with the data can be prescribed.

Identity management is now typically multi-factor (e.g. password and mobile, with facial recognition coming soon) and single sign on – so easy to switch on or off. You can also specify which devices are used for access or set a minimum requirement on devices e.g. for patching or anti-virus levels.

The next step around mobility is best described by this quote from a recruiter - “we can take this further and work out how our systems learn what data we need and when, and provide us with that data automatically.” Systems can also spot patterns of use and raise a question if it looks odd e.g. a manager accessing data in London when their diary says they are in Paris.

New Tools Become Essential

The choice of tools is much wider now – especially for communication and networking – and therefore, much harder to standardise. “I think it’s clear that the traditional method of hammering the phones has had its day! People want to use social media, apps and messaging services to communicate; it’s easy, efficient and fits in with the ‘constantly -connected’ lifestyle that has evolved in the last few years. As a recruitment agency we need to work out how we develop these tools to deliver a better customer experience.”

Automation, and adopting the principle that data is entered once only, is becoming critical, given the proliferation of compliance requirements. Even simple things like ensuring you have written approval from candidates to hold their data and represent them (to be enforced along with other data protection changes in 2018) are hard if you don’t automate processes, and get candidates to do the work.

With an online candidate facing portal, this can be achieved easily with no extra effort from your staff, but without one this kind of activity becomes a serious manual overhead and this is not at all lost on recruiters:

…. IT…. will help us to operate efficiently and, in turn, be able to price client work at market leading rates…… across support functions I envision IT replacing all admin roles with effective IT systems. This will allow us to grow and support our sales function, whilst maintaining a lean, IT-led support function.

Our CRM should be regarded as our core system, so all other systems should integrate and add value to the CRM and delivery. Systems that don’t integrate with the core system should be able to show increased levels of value elsewhere to compensate.

Better Service With No Extra Effort

The new mantra should be providing better service, to all stakeholders, with no extra effort.

Our clients increasingly need access to better systems from us, in order to aid the development of their recruitment processes and the associated management information, but also to help them understand their operations and find and implement efficiencies in doing so.

With accelerating change, it becomes harder to keep up, and more painful for those who stand still and this is doubly true in the recruitment industry – in the words of the late, great Charles Darwin - “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

PUBLIC CLOUD EXPETATION LEVEL VERSUS REALITY : Plenty of cloud snake oil paddlers, but can they execute ? This is what we are seeing in terms of expectations, here are the challenges and what we offer.

** Things we can do to make the gap -

In putting together this article, we are deeply indebted to significant contributions from a number of our clients – and in particular from James Johnson (Nicoll Curtin), Darren James (Definitive), and DJ Marker / Daniel Boteler (both from Grovelands).

We hope you enjoyed our article and video, if you have any questions, comments or prophecies of your own, please let us know using the comments below !

Guy Deterding

Guy Deterding

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