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Just One Recruitment Prediction for 2014

By December 12, 20135 Comments

So here we are then.  The final Whiteboard post of 2013.  In the past I’ve joined in the seasonal bandwagon of crystal ball gazing to predict recruitment trends but this year I’m not sure I can really be bothered.  I hope you don’t mind.  It’s partly because I’m heading over to watch my kids’ Christmas concert shortly, but probably has more to do with a post on (my new favourite blog) Snark Attack where Matt Charney makes a fair point that such posts are:

“…pushing lazy, self-congratulatory content (“our favorite posts of the year!”) and, even more noxious, the prediction post.”

And I don’t want to upset Matt.  He is, after all, a blogger blogging about bloggers blogging inane content, and nobody wants to mess with a man on such a mission.  If you really want to read prediction posts there’s plenty out there already including serious ones and not so serious ones (guess which one I prefer…go on, guess).

So I’ll keep it brief and make just one, single prediction for the NZ recruitment industry for 2014:

Zero Growth.

There you are.  That’s fired you up eh?!  Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a doom and gloom post.  Far from it.  I’m excited about 2014 and can’t wait to crack into it (yeah I’m a sadist recruitment tragic, I can’t help it).  The New Zealand economy is forecasted to grow strongly in 2014, the strongest since 2007 in fact, but I don’t see the recruitment industry as it exists right now keeping pace at the same levels.

There’s just too many half-baked agency offerings out there desperately hoping that things can be just like they were back in 2005 again.  In fact their strategy hasn’t really altered one jot since then and it’s only because a recruitment agency can still survive by stripping operations all the way down to a laptop and mobile sitting atop a kitchen bench that they haven’t disappeared already.  For an agency to grow in 2014 they simply must start developing a differentiation that sets them apart from the rest of our fragmented industry.  I think that things like technology, or contingent solutions, or broader consulting services, or deeper specialisation will all feature in the firms that do manage to attain tangible growth.  But it will be absolutely at the expense of those firms that just refuse and leave their heads buried in the sand.

And, to be frank, good riddance to those agencies that do fail.  There’s some good new brands opening up, some overseas players looking to move into the NZ market, and I’m confident that even some of the new wave of “recruitment alternatives” will actually work!  Not all mind you…but some will.

So I’m looking forward with great excitement to 2014.  To working with progressive and forward-thinking recruitment teams, willing to adapt and innovate and change.  But I won’t smugly rub my hands with glee at the other side of the coin: the firms that fall away and give up the ghost.  It will sadden me, but its inevitability intrigues me.  Make sure you’re not one of them.  Rest up, have a lovely break, and recharge your batteries for an exhilarating ride in 2014.

To the innovators, the spoils.

Merry Christmas!

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Matt Charney says:

    Nice post – even nicer citation. Appreciate the shout out and really enjoy your blog, too – relevant, topical and thoughtful writing is rare for recruiting specific content. Of course, the absence of a numbered list or infographic made it a little hard to follow…

    You rock. Here’s to more good stuff in 2014.



  • Nikki Wilkie says:

    Well said Jon … brilliantly delivered last night as well. Here is to 2014. With all the new & exciting innovative changes the recruitment industry as a whole needs. Thanks to you & Sean for your input & influence within the #nzrec marketplace. Look forward to seeing it more in 2014.

  • David Whitaker says:

    Agree with all you say Jon. In 17 years in Auckland it’s never ceased to amaze me how much external recruitment activity there is concentrated into a market as small as Auckland.

    This is largely because of the opportunistic smaller players and the “recruitment by numbers” larger mob who depress the market for the better and more innovative operators you talk about.