What can recruitment in Central Eastern Europe learn from recruitment trends in Western Europe

Included the presentation recap (and the whole presentation on video) from the recruitment conference in Central Eastern Europe held on May 24, 2024 (recuitTECHcee). This presentation explores the development and best practices in recruitment and staffing, focusing on trends observed in Western Europe and their potential application in Eastern Europe. In the video below you can discover how these developments can influence and benefit Eastern Europe.


Geert-Jan Waasdorp on June 10, 2024 Average reading time: 4 min
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What can recruitment in Central Eastern Europe learn from recruitment trends in Western Europe

Market inefficiencies as profit engines

One of the striking observations in the Western European recruitment market is the pervasive inefficiency, which paradoxically acts as a profit generator. This inefficiency stems from the sheer number of job boards, agencies, and niche sites entering the market to address talent shortages. With over 30,000 job boards and more than 500 platforms for freelance assignments in Europe, the market becomes increasingly more intransparency.

For instance, in the Netherlands, there is one agency for every 500 workers, translating to 20,000 staffing agencies in total. The UK also sees a high density of agencies, with 36,000 agencies serving 33 million people. This proliferation of intermediaries underscores the complexity and inefficiency in the labor market, where recruiters spend a significant portion of their time on unproductive activities. Recruiters often spend up to 80% of their workweek on tasks that do not lead to successful placements, such as engaging with non-responsive candidates or handling administrative burdens. But it seems they don’t mind. It even looks that recruiters love inefficiency.

Rising threat of fraud and the need for new CV standards

The issue of fraudulent CVs and cybercriminal activities in the recruitment sector is another growing concern, which is been much written about on Totalent.eu. Skill shortages are exacerbated by the presence of fake CVs, which have become prevalent due to cost-per-applicant models that prioritize quantity over quality. This problem was highlighted with data showing that a significant number of applicants lack the necessary qualifications, contributing to skill shortages across Europe.

Recruitment fraud often involves fake recruiters who use CV databases to scam candidates into providing additional personal information, such as copies of passports. This fraudulent activity has led to a push for more secure and verifiable CV standards. Initiatives like CV Wallet in the UK and SkillsCV in the Netherlands are emerging to ensure the authenticity of candidate information, potentially leading to a standardized CV across Europe within a few years, like the Europass.

Dominance of agencies and the growing importance of sourcing

The trend of sourcing and the role of agencies in the recruitment process is becoming increasingly prominent. In tight labor markets, where talent is scarce, sourcing pressure increases, meaning recruiters frequently approach potential candidates. This approach is more prevalent in countries with scarce labor markets like Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Interestingly, there is a strong correlation between a candidate’s job-seeking activity and their likelihood of being sourced. Candidates actively seeking jobs often make their profiles more accessible, thus increasing their chances of being approached by recruiters. This trend highlights the importance of agencies and sourcing platforms, which now often dominate the initial stages of the recruitment process.

Agencies are also increasingly acquiring job boards to gain direct access to candidate pools. For example, Indeed is owned by Recruit Holdings, the third-largest staffing agency globally, while Monster is owned by Randstad. This consolidation gives agencies a strategic advantage by controlling both the job postings and the candidate databases, making them pivotal players in the recruitment market.

Candidate-driven market changes

The behavior and preferences of candidates are driving significant changes in the recruitment landscape. Candidates are increasingly using AI tools to streamline their job search processes. AI applications like AIapply and Sonora help candidates create and optimize their CVs, apply to multiple job postings simultaneously, and even prepare for interviews.

Mobile-first strategies are becoming crucial as candidates rely more on their smartphones for job searches. The rise of platforms like TikTok as a job search tool, especially among younger demographics, indicates a shift towards more interactive and visually engaging recruitment methods. This trend is not limited to Western Europe; it is also gaining traction in Eastern Europe, emphasizing the need for mobile-friendly recruitment platforms.

The homepage of Sonara

The future of recruitment technology

The integration of AI and advanced recruitment technologies is set to revolutionize the industry further. AI-powered tools that aggregate and analyze candidate data from various sources, including social media and job boards, are becoming more prevalent, like Seekout, Gem, Avature. These tools not only enhance the efficiency of the recruitment process but also help in creating targeted marketing campaigns to attract top talent.

Equal opportunities and compliance

Equal opportunities in the workplace are gaining more attention, driven by new European regulations such as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). This directive mandates companies to report on equal pay and opportunities, ensuring that all employees, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or disability, have fair access to career advancements and benefits. The emphasis on equal opportunities is not just a regulatory requirement but also a strategic imperative for companies looking to build a diverse and inclusive workforce. By focusing on equal pay and eliminating biases in the recruitment process, organizations can enhance their employer brand and attract a wider range of talent.

Conclusion: Learning from Western Europe

Central and Eastern Europe can learn much from the trends and best practices observed in Western Europe. As the market in Eastern Europe continues to evolve, it is likely to experience similar inefficiencies and challenges. However, by adopting advanced recruitment technologies, focusing on talent intelligence and candidates, and ensuring compliance with equal opportunity regulations, recruiters in Eastern Europe can stay ahead of the curve.

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Geert-Jan Waasdorp

Geert-Jan Waasdorp

Entrepreneur and Investor at Intelligence Group, Academie voor Arbeidsmarktcommunicatie, Werf&, Arbeidsmarktkansen, Recruitment Accelerator en Recruiteverywhere.com
Geert-Jan Waasdorp has been active in the world of job market communication and recruitment since 1999. He started his journey as an analyst, and grow into an entrepreneur, business owner, investor and innovator. Waasdorp is a guest speaker, blogger and author of several books on recruitment and employer branding.
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