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The 5 labour market and recruitment trends for the Benelux in 2022

Will we see a comeback for retro recruitment? Or will platform technology take over the labour market? A new year calls for new trends. These are the five most important trends for the Benelux, as accumulated by European thought leader and Intelligence Group CEO Geert-Jan Waasdorp. 

Geert-Jan Waasdorp on January 05, 2022 Average reading time: 3 min
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The 5 labour market and recruitment trends for the Benelux in 2022

As an experienced figure within the Benelux recruitment scene, perhaps no two weeks were as stereotypical for the state for recruitment as two weeks towards the closing end of 2021. Where I stood proudly alongside over 100 recruiters and recruitment managers to make a statement with the launch of the first-ever recruiter code in the Netherlands, I also saw a different reality.

That’s a reality wherein I saw two prominent Dutch organisations announce their search for yet another recruitment manager in as little as two years. Organisations that have no real vision on recruitment — that’s what they’re seeking someone for, after all — and simply aren’t investing sufficiently in the recruitment of new personnel, all the while complaining about the talent shortages.

‘Recruitment is weaker than before the pandemic’

The headline gives it away, but it’s a truth that saddens me. Right now, I have to say that recruitment in the Benelux looks inferior and flat-out weaker than before the pandemic. Most recruitment teams rely solely on their LinkedIn and Indeed subscriptions — and have no real idea how to use all the online opportunities out there. Meanwhile, they struggle to grasp what’s happening within their respective target groups — let alone their own organisations.

Recruitment has never been so business critical and important as it is now.

And while I’m aware of the fact that I can come across as overly critical— this is a time to see the opportunities that are there for the taking. Recruitment has never been so business critical and important as it is now. If there were ever a moment to ask for a budget 10 times the size of 2021, now is the time.

You just have to ask for it (or demand it), because everyone willing to look up from their Zoom or Teams meetings can see that the tsunami of talent just isn’t there. The labour markets across Europe are undeniably tight — and will continue to be. But as talent is hard to recruit — as are those doing the recruiting. Especially the good ones. Without further comments, I think following these five trends will make a big difference.

Trend #1: Platform technology

AMS’ Hourly

Many organisations aren’t just competing with each other for students and gig workers — they’re competing with platform technology brought by flex-based workforce solutions. Ironically enough, they then rely on hiring vast numbers of employees via those flex workforce solutions. The technology itself gives students and gig workers the opportunity to decide where, when and under which sort of conditions they’d like to work. It’s all about flexibility and offers better pay.

The technology itself gives students and gig workers the opportunity to decide where, when and under which sort of conditions they’d like to work.

Meanwhile, retail, catering and entertainment industries across Europe all struggle to find enough workers. I’d say it would be a perfect opportunity for those who usually compete for talent, to adopt a similar technology that better fits the demands of a target group. Look at the recent success of NowJobs (Covebo), Temper, YoungOnes (Young Capital) or AMS’ Hourly.

Trend #2: The comeback of retro recruitment

Recruiters have become lazy. We don’t just base our sourcing on agencies and the likes of LinkedIn, Google, Indeed and the Meta family… it’s all we’ve grown accustomed to using. Particular the younger generation of recruiters who have come into the scene in the past four or so years. They don’t really know any alternative sourcing methods.

Meet our long-lost cousins: referrals, interns, handing out flyers, ads in local newspapers and yes, even classic job boards. And what do you think? It works.

As the channels we all know simply don’t cut it, there’s lately been more of an emphasis on some so-called retro solutions. Meet our long-lost cousins: referrals, interns, handing out flyers, ads in local newspapers and yes, even classic job boards. And what do you think? It works. There have been calls in the past for recruiters to get out from behind their laptops and meet real-life candidates.

Trend #3: Diversify your sourcing

For every target group in the Benelux and indeed much of Europe, proactively reaching out to candidates just works. That applies to gardeners, nurses — and even software engineers. This means that every recruitment department should have a source or sourcing capacity. To reiterate: sourcing is not something a recruiter does on the side. Although suboptimal, it’s still better than a scenario where no sourcing is done at all.

It’s about knowing which media channels your respective target group uses — and knowing what floats their boat.

To successfully source you need to multi source. Through the usage of several cv sources that go beyond the usual suspects LinkedIn and Indeed. (werk.nl, nationalevacaturebank.nl, seekout, hiretual and uitzendbureau.nl are all good options). But more so than ever, it’s about knowing which media channels your respective target group uses — and knowing what floats their boat. 

Trend #4: Work and hire internally

One of the most powerful methods of recruitment in Belgium is internal mobility. Where the focus of Dutch recruitment lies predominately outside the company’s headquarters — with the exception of referrals — Belgian companies have emphasised internal mobility as their most important source to accomplish recruitment goals. For recruitment, it’s crucial to tap into the internal talent pool to fill vacancies, through a consultation with HR and L&D within your organisation.

Joining forces (with finance and purchase departments) can mean the first real step in the direction of Total Talent Management.

Then, going one step further, it opens the door to work together with finance and purchase departments; those organising the flexible shell of an organisation. Joining forces can mean the first real step in the direction of Total Talent Management. A company that can be viewed as the benchmark for this is VRT, the national public-service broadcaster in Belgium. They allow candidates to choose for their own type of contract on the company’s own recruitment website.

Trend #5: Pursue a form of agile recruitment

Agile recruitment is perhaps more a way of working than a trend. As a recruitment team, it’s all about seeing what is successful — and what isn’t. Pardon the comparison, but often it may feel like you’re just a hamster. Running in your own exercise wheel as hard as you can. The metaphorical key is that you’re running alone — rather than relying on colleagues, data and really working together with your hiring manager.

2022 could be a great year for recruitment and recruiters. You just need to get out of the exercise wheel and deliver a vision for your organisation.

An agile way of working is something I wish for every recruitment department and agency. It leads to new opportunities in the form of investments in training, tools and sourcing channels. It allows you to learn more, celebrate your accomplishments, rather than running from hire to hire. 2022 could be a great year for recruitment and recruiters. You just need to get out of the exercise wheel and deliver a vision for your organisation.

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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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