How Will Recruiting Look in 2023?...

By Martin Ellis

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LinkedIn celebrated its tenth birthday in May, and to celebrate the occasion it asked some industry experts how recruitment might look in 2023. Two things struck me immediately:

  • Frankly, some 'industry experts' talk a language of management-speak I don't understand. Buzz words abound. You know the sort.
  • Secondly, most of them seemed to talk of companies and work in ten years time being as it is now, not as it will become. They're positioning themselves to protect their current position - it's a tough world out there right now, so you can hardly blame them.

None of us know with real certainly what the future holds. Technology, and some smart-arse out of university, will combine to add a new twist the rest of us wished we'd thought of (Facebook). However, there are things we do know (the past), things we think we know (the immediate future) and things we can make an educated guess at (say 5 to 6 years forward). 10 years can only be an extension of that.


  • LinkedIn (and social networking) has arrived. Any idiot with half a brain can find people. Candidate research and the headhunters little black book have been consigned to history.
  • Social networking will only increase and morph into other forms...
  • Organisations are much flatter. The managers at the top are closer to those at the coal-face. The need for a wider set of management and leadership skills at the top is greater than it has been before.
  • The demands on leader-managers will only increase. As ever, real talent will demand greater salaries, while those with no niche skills will drift towards minimum wage levels. This is already happening. As in our society, the middle classes are being squeezed out.
  • There are more people with the title 'manager', but fewer real managers.
  • Interim and short-term employment contracts are increasingly normal. The word 'career' is largely as redundant at the word 'typewriter'
  • Larger companies are growing their internal recruiting teams because finding people is so much easier. Perversely, this doesn't seem to be resulting in faster times-to-hire, and people are staying in position for shorter periods.
  • Recruitment has become about key words, skills and experience. It has become faster. It has become cheaper - but has it really got any BETTER?
  • oDesk and Elance have arrived and are growing. They're making fixed employment costs variable and moving millions of hours of labour to developing economies at anything up to 10% of developed economy wage costs.
  • The old want to work longer. The young just want a job!


  • LinkedIn will grow. It will dominate - until it becomes so big it misses a trick. Somebody else will come along with a new idea. That's how the world works.
  • Social networking will morph into new forms, probably towards social manufacture and crowd funding among many things. This will change how business works and the world turns. It will also increasingly feed the search engines looking for candidates - see Bullhorn Reach.
  • 3D printing is coming. It's likely many of us will have a 3D printer at home within the foreseeable future. This will also change the nature of manufacture and how the world turns.
  • oDesk and Elance will grow. More work will move offshore.
  • Government will interfere and fiddle. Especially if Labour win the next election. They will interfere and fiddle in a UK silo while the world whirls around them. The rest of the world doesn't care what Ed Miliband thinks.
  • Company bosses will become frustrated that their internal recruitment teams may be cheaper, but possibly less effective, than what went before. A new model will emerge...
  • Candidates will be approached more often (it's already happening). They will become more guarded (that's already happening too) as the approaches become more regular, but also more badly handled (a reputation that internal recruiters are already working hard to accelerate)


  • The new 'LinkedIn' will have a USP. LinkedIn already has the high ground on skills and experience, so competitors will arrive with something different, possibly around people and their likely behavioural preferences and motivations (psychometrics or NLP?).
  • New 'LinkedIn' won't have your photo, but possibly your DISC graph (or something like it). It's probably more meaningful than recognising if you have a moustache or one ear lower than the other.
  • Skills and experience will be a given. New search tools are getting better and algorithms more intuitive. People will be so easy to find. A new perspective will be needed - back to my point immediately above.
  • Some 'experts' say that recruitment will develop into a wider world of Talent Management. I don't believe it. Firstly, HR have too much embedded interest to let this happen and will become obstructive. Secondly, those that thrive in such circumstances usually do so by recognising narrow niches, rather than taking broader views.


OK. My turn to nail my colours to the mast. I hope I'm around in 2023 to see if I'm right.

  • Firstly, much more labour will be on short-term contracts. They'll market themselves on specialist platforms and interact directly with employers who will want to employ and discard resources on little more than a whim. This will reduce the size of the recruitment market as it's currently defined, but will, in itself, become a new form of recruitment.
  • What remains will be split into 2 markets. Standard skills and Niche skills.
  • Standard skills recruitment will be driven simply by skills and experience. This will largely be done by search engines and automated systems.
  • Niche skills recruitment will become a mix of skills and experience (search engines and automated) and high-level human engagement. Niche skills will diverge, firstly to the science and analysis of psychometric tools to understand more objectively individuals behavioural preferences and motivations. However, that won't be universal as there's already sufficient cynicism that I suspect will not be overcome because of ignorance or ego ("I know better than any bloody machine")
  • There will be greater focus on the component parts such as interviewing skills, the offer process (this is something that falls short far too often in my experience), early employee integration and, especially talent retention and development. Each of these will be provided by specialist vendors. You can see a form of this happening if you see this Aussie outfit. I have no link to this company, they're just the first I've found to take an approach I think will become more common. For top management, organisations will become more fussy, further down the food chain, less so...

There will be a recruitment industry, but not as we know it. Those that think they're already seen the greatest changes already, are in for a horrible surprise.

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