12 tactics to write recruitment messages that candidates can’t resist

1. Employer Brand Impact

Let’s face it, the brand behind the sender matters, a lot. Candidates are more likely to respond if the message comes from a prestigious company like Amazon or Google.

It’s like being invited to the cool kids’ table at lunch…everyone wants in. So, building a strong employer brand isn’t just about name recognition. It’s about cultivating a reputation that resonates with potential candidates. You can highlight unique aspects of your company culture, values, and opportunities for growth. This can significantly increase your appeal to top talent.

2. Sender Identity

Who’s sending the message matters too. A CEO is bound to grab more attention than a recruiter. Even professional peers and functional leaders have more pull than your average recruiter. Think about decentralizing outreach to take your response game up a notch.

While the sender’s title carries weight, it’s also essential to consider their experience with potential candidates. A well-respected leader who actively engages with their team and industry peers is more likely to elicit a positive response than someone with a fancy title but little ability to make personal connections.

3. Timing is Key

Ever wonder if the timing of your message makes a difference? Well, it does. While some think specific times of the day work best, like Sunday mornings as per Hung Lee, you can always experiment and find what works best for your target audience. Beyond just the time of day, consider broader timing factors such as industry events, company milestones, or even personal achievements of the candidate if you have knowledge of those based on your research. Tailoring your outreach to align with these timings can increase the likelihood of a favorable response.

4. Choosing the Right Channel

The channel you use can make or break your outreach efforts. Email is great for full-time workers, while LinkedIn works for some but not all. Avoid reaching out to candidates on Facebook or Instagram DMs. It can feel like an invasion of privacy. Understanding your candidate’s preferred communication channels is crucial if indicated on a resume or any prior application. Some may prefer the professionalism of email, while others respond better to the familiarity of LinkedIn. By meeting candidates where they are, you can increase the chances of capturing their attention.

5. Factors for Channel Selection

Understand your audience and choose the right channel accordingly. While texting might work wonders with some candidates, especially those who are already in your company database, LinkedIn is a better fit for others. Tailor your approach to match your audience’s preferences. Beyond channel preferences, consider the stage of the candidate’s journey and the nature of your message. For initial outreach, a professional platform like LinkedIn may be more appropriate, while follow-up communication could benefit from the immediacy of text or messaging apps.

6. Crafting the Perfect Subject Line

Keep it short and sweet. With limited characters, aim for 30-40 characters max. Using the recipient’s first name in the subject line can work wonders, but it’s not always feasible with mail merges. In addition to personalization, consider incorporating elements that evoke curiosity or urgency in your subject lines. A well-crafted subject line should entice the recipient to open the message while also providing a clear indication of its relevance.

7. Message Length Matters

Less is more. Aim for fewer than 400 characters for optimal response rates, especially for InMail messages. Cut the fluff and get straight to the point. Avoid bombarding candidates with lengthy job descriptions. Quite frankly, nobody has time for that. Craft a well-worded, thoughtful message for maximum impact. Also, focus on clarity and relevance in your messaging. Every word should serve a purpose, guiding the candidate toward a specific action or outcome. By respecting their time and attention, you increase the likelihood of a positive response. A short message not only respects the recipient’s time but also increases the likelihood of a response.

8. Mastering Message Structure

Follow the classic hook, explainer, and call-to-action (CTA) formula. Start with a hook tailored to the recipient, provide context in the explainer, and end with a clear CTA.

While the structure provides a framework, don’t be afraid to inject personality and authenticity into your messages. Striking the right balance between professionalism and genuine interest can significantly impact response rates.

9. Embrace BLUF

We are not talking about “Bluff” here. Yeah, never bluff in front of candidates. But here, we are talking about the BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) technique. When it’s not possible to send a short message, use BLUF. Put the most important information in bold at the top of the message to ensure clarity and focus. BLUF isn’t just about delivering information. It’s about respecting the recipient’s time and attention. By prioritizing the most critical details upfront, you demonstrate transparency and streamline communication.

10. Make a Reasonable Ask

Avoid putting candidates on the spot with tough questions right off the bat. Instead, offer more information in a follow-up email or during a phone call. Consider framing your ask as an opportunity for further exploration or collaboration rather than a definitive decision. If you invite candidates to engage in a dialogue, you can create a more inclusive and empowering communication dynamic.

11. Personalization vs. Mass Outreach

While personalization is key for executive roles, high-volume hiring might not benefit as much. Save time by focusing personalization efforts where they’ll have the most impact.

Personalization isn’t just about customization. It’s about demonstrating genuine interest and understanding of the candidate’s unique needs and aspirations. Even in high-volume scenarios, finding opportunities to tailor your message can bring about significant returns.

12. Follow Up (Patiently)

Persistence pays off, but don’t overdo it. Research shows it usually takes around three messages to get a response. After that, more messages won’t necessarily help.

Beyond just frequency, focus on the quality of your follow-up messages. Each interaction should provide additional value or context. It should also politely reinforce your commitment to building a meaningful relationship with the candidate.

Bottomline

In a world flooded with recruitment messages, standing out from the crowd is not easy. By leveraging these 12 tactics, you, as a recruiter, can increase your chances of capturing the attention of candidates and ultimately securing responses. So go ahead, put these strategies to the test, and watch your candidate engagement reach new heights.

 

Why a structured recruitment process truly ensures fairness for all

The timing of the research can indeed be called remarkably apt. On Tuesday morning, February 27, the Dutch Senate is set to debate the Equal Opportunities in Recruitment and Selection Act, a bill intended to combat discrimination in the labor market. Just before this moment, a comprehensive research report was released, which not only highlights the persistent prevalence of discrimination but also offers organizations practical ways to prevent it in the future. This aligns perfectly with the objectives of the proposed legislation. Clearly, a very current topic.

The more structured the selection methods, the greater the equality of opportunity for each candidate

Let’s start with the main conclusion of the large-scale research, which, in short, is: the more structured the selection methods, the greater the equality of opportunity for each candidate. This doesn’t just mean structure in interviews, where each candidate is asked the same questions in the same order. It also includes structure in the initial selection process. For example, creating an application form with the same (relevant) questions for all applicants, instead of randomly asking them to submit a resume.

Reducing personal bias

“When you structure the process, personal preferences of the hiring manager or recruiter play a lesser role,” summarizes lead researcher Janice Odijk. In oth

er words, this reduces bias in the process. But also “noise,” adds Odijk. “Noise arises from coincidences that cause an evaluator to score higher or lower than expected, such as when someone has slept poorly. A more objective and structured process also reduces systematic differences between evaluators in their assessments. Less noise and bias lead to better selection decisions.”

Structured interviews improve job performance predictions

It has long been known that more structured interviews improve job performance predictions. In the study conducted by Odijk along with Rotterdam-based labor and organizational psychologists Annemarie Hiemstra and Marise Born, the focus was primarily on equal opportunities. Here too, structured interviews proved beneficial. Structured interviews result in more consistent scores from different evaluators compared to unstructured ones.

Reducing similarity bias

A notable aspect of the new research is its examination of the initial selection phase. In the study, 127 job seekers were invited to apply for a fictional retail management traineeship. They applied both with a traditional resume and via a structured form with a few standard, job-relevant questions. “Authentic data, not fictitious resumes,” emphasizes Odijk. Over 100 HR professionals then evaluated these applications, estimating job suitability based on both methods.

Candidates also found the structured method generally fairer and more pleasant.

The results show that the structured method leads to “more equal and consistent assessments of applicants” compared to resumes, explains Odijk. In other words, both bias (systematic rating differences) and noise (random differences) significantly decreased. The similarity bias, where selectors favor people who are like them in some way, was also reduced. Interestingly, candidates found the structured method generally fairer and more pleasant, regardless of their migration background.

Follow-up on nudges research

Odijk conducted this research with her EUR colleagues Born and Hiemstra, commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. It follows earlier “nudges” research by TNO, part of the SZW program for Further Integration into the Labor Market. More than 200 HR professionals from various sectors and regions participated in the new study.

With structuring, noise and bias almost disappear.

These HR professionals not only reviewed resumes and structured application forms but also watched videos of fictional interviews with equally qualified candidates differing in their ethnic-cultural profiles. Again, structured interviews predominantly showed good results: the influence of random rating differences (noise) and differences in individual HR professionals’ biases almost disappeared.

Bridging research and practice

The report sends a clear message, believes Odijk. “There is a significant gap between research and practice,” she says. “The ministry aims to bridge this gap. That’s why we tried to stay as close to practice as possible. I think we succeeded.” She also believes that her research can help address labor market shortages. “We conducted this research with diversity and inclusivity in mind. But ultimately, it’s about the right matching. And fair opportunities greatly assist in that.”

“It ultimately comes down to: the right matching. And fair opportunities naturally help a lot with that.”

Hopefully, this message will reach the employer organizations recently complaining about the proposed Equal Opportunities Act, which would require them to document their recruitment and selection practices. One argument against it was the lack of scientific standards for a good process. Well, employers, here’s your science. You can implement it directly into your daily practice. With this, you shouldn’t have much to worry about regarding the possible new law. The only challenge now is to actually put it into practice.

Record-setting migration numbers in Europe; how will it impact labour markets?

In 2021, the first significant warning about workforce shortages was sounded. Amidst COVID turmoil, the entire European continent realised that worker shortages were looming and imminent. Per a study by the European Center for Global Development, the EU (and Europe) will be short approximately 44 million workers by 2025, without new, increased immigration plans. 

Big (unemployment) in Japan

Now, the situation in Europe isn’t quite as severe as it is projected to be in Japan. There, the population of the working-age group in 2050 is expected to be only 68% of its 2020 level. But the underlying issues are the same. This is due to two main factors: Europeans are generally living longer and having fewer children. This strains welfare systems and the social safety net, slowing economic growth and affecting prosperity

“If people in Europe want some sense of what the next thirty years could look like, they might want to study Japan’s recent past.”

“If people in Europe want some sense of what the next thirty years could look like, they might want to study Japan’s recent past”, researchers Charles Kenny and George Yang say. “Older readers may remember when, based on decades of phenomenal growth, the country was viewed in the US as the next cold war adversary after the Soviet Union. Poised to become the world’s largest economy, buying up iconic American brands and starring as the sinister unstoppable force in a Michael Crichton thriller. But things didn’t go according to plan: as the country aged, miracle growth rates waned.”

Record-setting number of immigrants 

So much for the bad news. With the newly-released 2022 migration statistics, there may be a little optimism infused into European labour markets. The continent has set a new record with 5.1 million people immigrating to the EU from non-EU countries in 2022. It marks a significant increase of approximately 117% (2.7 million) from 2021. Compared to its population size, Malta had the highest immigration rate in 2022 with 66 immigrants for every 1,000 people, coming from both EU and non-EU countries. 

Source: Eurostat

With the newly-released 2022 migration statistics, there may be a little optimism infused into European labour markets.

Luxembourg was next with 48, and Estonia followed with 37 immigrants per 1,000 residents. On the other hand, Slovakia had the lowest immigration rate, with only 1 immigrant per 1,000 people. Bulgaria and France each had 6 immigrants per 1,000 residents, coming after Slovakia. In absolute terms, the largest numbers of foreign-born residents from other EU countries and non-EU countries were registered in Germany (16.5 million people), France (8.9 million) and Spain (8.2 million).

Germany’s heading in the right direction

Considering the job vacancy rates across the continent, these levels of immigration are much needed. The percentage of unfilled positions in the workforce in countries like Belgium, The Netherlands, Austria and Germany all lie at around 4%. Germany has a total of 1.7 million open job vacancies. The Netherlands has around 413 thousand open jobs — and Austria and Belgium, both have roughly 200 thousand open vacancies.

Germany went from approximately 875 thousand in 2021 to a total surpassing 2 million in 2022, an increase of 132%

When we look closely at those countries’ total immigration rates, each of them drastically improved its totals compared to a year earlier. Germany went from approximately 875 thousand in 2021 to a total surpassing 2 million in 2022, an increase of 132%. Austria scored a growth percentage rate of 70%, while The Netherlands saw the migration increase by 52%. Belgium scored 49%. Of the entire continent, Czechia saw its migration totals quadruple (400%). The simple explanation is that it’s down to Ukrainian refugees. They fled the war after Russia invaded Ukraine in an escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War in the beginning of 2022.

The EU Talent Pool

Kenny and Yang point to increased immigration, particularly from Africa, as a solution to Europe’s worker shortage. While some country’s political parties still want to reduce the number of foreign workers taking up jobs — the EU Commission proposed a EU Talent Pool to facilitate the recruitment of jobseekers from non-EU countries in EU-wide shortage occupations. 

The platform, combined with the surge in migration, comes at a pivotal moment for the EU.

It is the first EU platform of its type to help employers access a wider pool of skills and talent. If anything, it aims to make international recruitment easier and faster. The platform, combined with the surge in migration, comes at a pivotal moment for the EU, against the backdrop of an ageing population and the evolving needs of the European labour market. 

Source picture: isado on flickr 

Continue reading

Europe’s unemployment rate hits record low, but skills shortage still looms

The unemployment rate is an indicator of the health of a country’s economy, reflecting the percentage of the labour force that is jobless — and actively seeking employment. It is often used to gauge the level of economic distress within the workforce and can influence government policy decisions. 

New low-point for unemployment

With that definition out of the way, let’s get to the interesting stuff: the European Union has just hit another low-point in terms of unemployment rates. Across 27 EU member states, the rate has been through a 2008 financial crisis and pandemic-fuelled whirlwind. At the beginning of the century, it was stuck around 9.5%. It started to decline, reaching a low point before the 2008 crisis, and after some fluctuations, it dipped to 6.7% in 2020.

“It is a remarkable feat given the previous decade’s double-digit rates”, say Magnit Global.

It rose again in 2021 (7.5%), in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, before dropping back down almost immediately in the following year to a (then) all-time low: 6.3% in 2022. In 2023 it dropped further to 6.1% — before again dropping one further percentage point in the first quarter of 2024 to a new all-time low: 6%. “It is a remarkable feat given the previous decade’s double-digit rates”, say Magnit Global, who recently published a new labour market report.

Malta and Poland lead the way

Eurostat has conclusive unemployment data on a total of 36 countries. While some countries’ results are omitted from the 2024 ranking, Malta (2.6%), Poland (2.9%) and Czechia (3%) are the leaders with the lowest unemployment rates. Following closely are Germany (3.1%), Slovenia (3.3%), and the Netherlands (3.6%) with the next lowest unemployment rates.

Greece’s economic rebuild 

On the other end of the spectrum: Greece’s unemployment has dipped quite dramatically in the past ten years. As recent as 2013, over 400,000 people left the country, and the unemployment rate reached a high of 27.5%. That figure soared to 58% among those aged 25 and under. During the crisis’s peak, real concerns emerged that the collapse of Greece might lead to the disintegration of the eurozone — the consortium of 19 nations using the euro.

 The only reason unemployment is dropping? “Because they accept miserable wages”, say correspondents.

In 2024, Greece’s unemployment rate is back down to 10.4%, roughly what it was in the latter stages of 2009, before things went awry. Under the hood, however, still lies a serious issue — according to a recent report by French newspaper Le Monde. Its gross domestic product (GDP) may have grown by 2.3%, but the only reason unemployment is dropping? “Because they accept miserable wages”, say correspondents in Greece and Portugal, among other countries. 

Trouble in Spain

Spain’s numbers are similar to Greece — and now has the biggest unemployment rate of the continent. Portugal, its neighboring country, has made a noteworthy turnaround, with the unemployment rate dropping from 18.3% in 2013 to a mere 6.7% in 2024. Meanwhile, Spain’s numbers have dropped too, but still lie at 11.6% in the first month of 2024. 

“At times, when the economy is doing well, more jobs are generated, but when things go wrong, they’re destroyed with great intensity.”

Despite an increase in jobs, Spain has high unemployment due to low productivity and an overreliance on small firms to carry the economy. In an article on El Pais, Miguel Basterra, a professor at the University of Alicante, said that Spain’s economic model relies heavily on sectors prone to job loss, like construction and hospitality. “At times, when the economy is doing well, more jobs are generated, but when things go wrong, they’re destroyed with great intensity.”

Germany’s 1.7 million open vacancies

Moving over to the vacancy side of things, it’s hard to see the unemployment rates — for most countries, at least — dropping much further. The open number of vacancies is still high across many nations. Germany still leads the pack, with a total of 1.7 million open job vacancies. The Netherlands is second, with approximately 413 thousand open jobs — and Austria and Belgium, both vying for the bronze medal, have around 200 thousand open vacancies.

The open number of vacancies is still high across many nations. Germany still leads the pack, with a total of 1.7 million open job vacancies.

Looking at the job vacancy rate — the percentage of unfilled positions in the workforce — Belgium takes first place on the continent with a rate of 4.4%. The Netherlands again comes into second place (4.2%) — while Austria (4.1%) and Germany (3.9%) follow closely.

Software developers are still hard to find

While the ageing problem isn’t going to go away anytime soon, a skills-based approach to hiring seems more relevant than ever before. According to Magnit data, the most in-demand skills are digital advertising, market research and analysis, quality control and assurance, machine learning, and research development. In other words: mostly digital skills. 

Magnit found that software developers, sales assistants and warehouse associates were the jobs most in-demand.

Magnit also accumulated a list of jobs that were most in-demand in 2023. If you’re a software supplier, aiming to develop a revolutionary AI-system that is integrated in hardware, which has to be stored in warehouses — you’ve had a pretty rough hiring year. Magnit found that software developers, sales assistants and warehouse associates were the jobs most in-demand. 

The need for AI skills 

Artificial intelligence by size class of enterprise

Speaking of AI: over the past year, Europe saw remarkable advancements in integrating AI last year — rising to 8%, up 3% since 2021. Leading the way, according to Eurostat data: Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. AI is becoming a pivotal skill area for companies to focus on, with a notable uptick in job categories requiring AI competencies. Could it finally transform hiring practices into a more skills-based approach? 

“This shift aims at uncovering AI talent, whether through external recruitment or by enhancing internal capabilities via upskilling and redeployment.”

Workers skilled in AI form a distinct segment, necessitating precise data for competitive compensation and effective sourcing strategies throughout Europe. As AI-related abilities rarely appear in conventional resumes, job titles, or degrees — the researchers urge organisations to adopt a skills-focused hiring method. “This shift aims at uncovering AI talent, whether through external recruitment or by enhancing internal capabilities via upskilling and redeployment.”

Continue reading:

Importance of Boomerang Recruitment: Why Companies Should Embrace Returning Employees

Boomerang recruitment is growing

According to Reveliolabs’ findings, the share of boomerang employees has increased by approximately 30% between 2018 and 2023, growing from 2.6% to 3.4%. This upward trajectory is particularly present in industries characterized by high seasonality, such as Accommodation & Food Services and Retail. Of course, you can also see here an effect of COVID-19, where in these sectors people were let go but also came back.

Industries with more short-term or seasonal workers tend to boast higher boomerang rates. Healthcare, despite its lower seasonality, also demonstrates a relatively elevated average boomerang rate.

The green grass syndrome: half of the boomerangs come back in 2 years

Insights from the research indicate that around 50% of boomerang employees make their return within two years of their initial departure, with approximately 80% rejoining within five years. This underscores the significance of the post-employment experience in shaping individuals’ decisions to revisit former employers.

The study also reveals intriguing nuances regarding employee sentiment. Companies with higher boomerang rates tend to garner lower ratings from current employees. Conversely, former employees rate these same companies more favorably. This dichotomy suggests that while satisfied employees are less likely to depart, those who do leave and return may have gained a deeper appreciation for their former employer’s attributes. We call that the green grass syndrome. You expect that the grass is greener with another employer, but it isn’t.

Strategic Benefits of Boomerang Recruitment for Talent Acquisition and Retention

The resurgence of boomerang recruitment underscores its significance as a strategic avenue for talent acquisition and retention. As highlighted in a Totalent article identifying boomerang recruitment as one of the top talent acquisition trends for 2024, many companies are recognizing the value of rehiring former employees. Leveraging the potential of boomerang employees offers several compelling advantages for organizations:

  • Cultural Continuity: Boomerang employees are already familiar with the organizational culture, values, and dynamics. Their reintegration into the workforce streamlines onboarding processes and minimizes the risk of cultural misalignment.
  • Enhanced Engagement: Returning employees often exhibit heightened levels of engagement and commitment. Their decision to rejoin signifies a renewed interest in the company and its mission, fostering a sense of loyalty and dedication.
  • Expanded Talent Pool: Boomerang recruitment broadens the talent pool by attracting individuals with valuable institutional knowledge and prior experience. This not only expands the pool of qualified candidates but also allows for more informed hiring decisions. As highlighted in an HRForecast article, boomerang employees can hit the ground running and make significant contributions from the outset due to their existing understanding of the company’s processes.
  • Cost Efficiency: Rehiring former employees can prove highly cost-effective compared to recruiting and training new staff. Boomerang employees typically require shorter ramp-up periods and entail lower recruitment expenses. Rehiring former employees can be up to 67% less expensive than hiring fresh talent.
  • A Personio article emphasizes the cost-effectiveness of rehiring former employees, noting that boomerangs often require less training and onboarding than new hires.
Conclusion

As organizations navigate the evolving landscape of talent management, the concept of boomerang recruitment emerges as a compelling strategy for sustainable growth and competitive advantage. Reveliolabs’ research underscores the significance of embracing returning employees as valuable assets, highlighting the pivotal role they play in shaping organizational success. By recognizing and harnessing the potential of boomerang recruitment, companies can foster a culture of continuous learning, adaptation, and excellence in pursuing their strategic objectives.

 

 

If you liked this article and want more insights on attracting and retaining the best talent in Europe, subscribe to ToTalent’s weekly newsletter. You’ll get exclusive content, events, and expert insights.

The big grey area of Europe’s labour market: false self-employment

While the number of self-employed workers in Europe is slowly decreasing — there’s another slight issue that may drive that number down even further: false self-employment. False (or pseudo) self-employed professionals are people who are registered as entrepreneurs, but who actually exercise a professional activity under the authority of an employer. 

Sometimes it’s simply born out of innocence. A self-employed worker starts on a small assignment, but it quickly grows into a more serious relationship. But sometimes it’s simply a strategic move by companies, as they are the ones who don’t need to pay social security premiums or keep any real records. In other words: in that scenario employer has no obligations towards those they hire as freelancers. They could fire him or her on any given day, resulting in little security for the self-employed worker.

The concerns are there

“There is a concern that many dependent employees are misclassified as self-employed in order to circumvent certain elements of liabilities”, a 2020 report by the European Platform tackling undeclared work states. “Such as collective agreements, labour laws (e.g., minimum wages, working time legislation, protection in case of redundancy), employment tax and other employer liabilities attached to the standard contract of employment.”

‘4.3% of jobs are bogus self-employment’

So, just how many bogus self-employment occurs in Europe? That’s tough to say, according to the same report. Depending on whether narrow or wider criteria are used, the prevalence of bogus self-employment varies from 0.5% – 4.3% of total employment in the EU. For instance, the EU Labour Force Survey defines ‘bogus self-employment’ as individuals who work for themselves but only have one client or a primary client who controls their working hours. According to the survey data from 2017, this type of employment makes up 0.5% of all jobs in the EU. But it’s worth noting that data is scarce on this subject.

Overall, 4.3% of jobs in the EU are categorised as bogus self-employment.

The 2015 European Working Conditions Survey indicates that, based on broader criteria, a grand total 1.4% of all jobs are considered ‘pure’ bogus self-employment, meeting less than two of the criteria: having more than one client, the power to hire, or decision-making authority. Additionally, 2.9% fall into a ‘grey’ area, meeting exactly two criteria. Overall, 4.3% of jobs in the EU are categorised as bogus self-employment. If you were to solely focus on whether individuals are paid a set fee regularly, instead of their strategic decision-making power, the rate of bogus self-employment adjusts to 2.4%.

The North-South divide

But as is the case for every European analysis: differences between country are vast. The working paper identifies the highest amount of bogus employment in Portugal (9.3% of total employment), Romania (8.2%), Italy (7.8%) and Greece (7.5%). Meanwhile, Scandinavian neighbours Sweden (0.8%) and Denmark (0.6%) score the lowest. “This clearly indicates a North-South divide in the EU in the prevalence of bogus self-employment”, the researchers add.

Bogus self-employment is significantly higher in countries with lower levels of state expenditure on social protection.

But there’s more to it. “Comparing these cross-national variations in its prevalence with structural conditions in European countries, bogus self-employment is significantly higher in countries with lower levels of state expenditure on social protection, lower governance quality, greater inequality and higher poverty levels.”

Is the platform economy driving bogus employment?

The driver behind it? Whether it’s your Uber Eats driver delivering tonight’s cold chicken. Or the local handyman doing some work on your house tomorrow, the (digital) platform economy is likely responsible for the influx of pseudo self-employed workers. The platform economy has made its way to every European economy — and it has resulted in a new discussion around what employment truly entrails. 

 

The (digital) platform economy is likely responsible for the influx of pseudo self-employed workers.

Platforms can typically be categorised into three types. 1: platforms that connect consumers with service providers. 2: platforms that match supply with demand. 3: service-providing platforms, such as Uber or Bolt. The latter has been subject to legal scrutiny in various countries, with courts ruling that they act as employers and must adhere to employment laws. 

Combating false self-employment

So, what are European countries doing to combat false or bogus self-employment? Well — the approach varies quite a bit. In Luxembourg, for example, the focus has been on refining the criteria for classifying workers as self-employed. Especially concerning platform workers, which will also extend to unemployment benefits to self-employed individuals facing involuntary cessation of activity.

Contrastingly, in the Netherlands, the government’s has a proposition in place for a new mandatory disability insurance for self-employed individuals. That underscores a different dimension of addressing the vulnerabilities associated with self-employment.

Scheinselbstständigkeit as the norm?

Germany is one country that is renowned for already doubling-down on bogus self-employment. German tax authorities take Scheinselbstständigkeit very seriously as a form of social security fraud — and it can lead to enormous fines and even a prison sentence when found guilty. Businesses and individuals involved in Scheinselbstständigkeit risk immense scrutiny, with audits that can dig deep into work arrangements, contracts, and financial records to determine the true nature of employment relationships. For those classified as falsely self-employed, the ramifications extend beyond immediate legal consequences. 

According to Eurofound, one in five self-employed workers chose self-employment because they could not find a job as an employee.

It has to come with a side-note, however. Most self-employed people enjoy good working conditions and job quality, as the report states. However, it is important to note that self-employment is not always chosen. Sometimes it is simply entered into due to a lack of alternatives. According to Eurofound, one in five self-employed workers chose self-employment because they could not find a job as an employee. 

Legislation still in limbo

Meanwhile, it’s a topic very much on the agenda of the European Commission and European Union. However, its proposed Platform Work Directive, aimed at improving working conditions for platform workers in the EU, faces uncertainty. After member states rejected a compromise agreement, the future of the directive is unclear. This leaves millions of platform workers in legal limbo, with their employment status and rights undetermined.

The grey self-employment clouds will continue to loom over Europe. If and when they do clear up, it’s likely going to drive self-employment numbers down even further.

Amidst the various facets of self-employment in Europe, the main conclusion that can be drawn is a fairly complex one. The declining trend of self-employment, as well as the complexity of dealing with forms of false self-employment, are resulting in a shift in the nature of work and employment across the continent. As legislation isn’t quite there — the grey self-employment clouds will continue to loom over Europe. If and when they do clear up, it’s likely going to drive self-employment numbers down even further. 

Europe’s labour market dilemma: the steady decrease of self-employed workers

Whether you live in a rural village in Liechtenstein or a metropolis like Berlin, you’d be inclined to think self-employed workers are everywhere. Ranging from the local plumber, to the freelance graphic designers and illustrators filling your favourite coffee-shop. A 2024 Eurofound report on self-employment in the EU drops a bit of a bombshell in its introduction, however. ‘The proportion of self-employed workers in the EU Member States has not increased since the beginning of the 21st century.’

‘The proportion of self-employed workers in the EU Member States has not increased since the beginning of the 21st century.’

Men are worse off than women

When delving into the numbers, Eurostat is able to calculate the proportion of self-employed workers among the total employed labour force. To do so, they use the age category from 15 to 74. The total self-employed number has dipped to 13.7% in 2022, from 15.4% in 2010. Men have been worse off than women, according to the data: the total number of male self-employed was 17% in 2022, compared to 19.5%. Women have only seen a mere decline to 9.8% in 2022, compared to 10.5% in 2010. 

Major differences in Europe

Although often viewed from afar as ‘one country’, Europe has always been defined by subtle intricacies and differences. Whether through legislation or tradition, the continent has always seen vast differences between neighbouring countries. Self-employment is – among the EU Member States – most common in Greece (27%), Italy (20%) and Poland (19%) and least common in Denmark, Germany (both 8%) and Luxembourg (9%). 

Only 9 (of 27) EU countries are able to report an increase in the proportion of self-employed workers in the employed labour force.

When comparing statistics in that same twelve-year period, only 9 (of 27) EU countries are able to report an increase in the proportion of self-employed workers in the employed labour force. The remaining 18 all report decreases — and some are quite drastic. Romania saw its total number of self-employed workers drop by 10.8%, Croatia by 6.7%, Portugal by 6.5% and Cyprus by 6.1%. 

Sliver of hope in Baltic region

The Baltic countries of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia are notable risers among the 27 EU countries: forming the top three of countries that report an increase of self-employed workers. The entirety of the Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg) is also listed in the countries that saw an increase of self-employment. France, Malta and Hungary complete that side of the picture.   

Self-employment most common in agriculture

When we look at different job areas, most people who work for themselves are in agriculture (52%), which has always been pretty common for the EU. Next comes construction work (24%) and ‘other types of jobs’ (21%). Between 2010 and 2022, the biggest drops in self-employment happened in commerce and hospitality (-3.7%), agriculture (-2.6%), and transportation and storage (-1.8%). On the other end of the spectrum, working in financial services saw the biggest jump (+2.1%).

Most people who work for themselves are in agriculture (52%), which has always been pretty common for the EU.

Europe’s imbalanced labour market

Plenty of statistics flying around — but the notion that Europe now holds the least amount of self-employed workers in its recent history is mainly down to what researchers describe as an ‘imbalance’ between labour market exits (due to old age) and the creation of new self-employed jobs. “A comparison of the proportions of self-employed workers across age groups between 2010 and 2022 highlights the drastic drop in self-employment in the older age groups”, the report adds.

Fewer older workers chose to work for themselves. Specifically, the number of self-employed people who are 65 or older went down by 15.5%

In other words: there are far fewer people aged 60 and over who want to keep working. Over the time the report looked at, fewer older workers chose to work for themselves. Specifically, the number of self-employed people who are 65 or older went down by 15.5%: from 54.9% to 39.4%. For those aged 60 to 64, it dropped by 10.1%: going from 29.3% to 19.2%.

Job strain among the self-employed

While ageing is just another metric that Europe will have to deal with for generations to come, the report did strike up a ‘significant shift’ in the job quality of self-employed workers. The survey, utilising a job quality index, assessed the balance between job demands and resources among self-employed workers. That methodology highlighted the critical concept of ‘job strain’, where an imbalance leaning towards higher demands over resources puts workers at risk concerning their health and well-being.

The link between the quality of someone’s job and their job security, health, and happiness points out the big challenges self-employed people face in Europe.

The survey showed that self-employed workers in Europe have very different experiences with their jobs. In particular, the group of self-employed people who work on their own but depend on one client or company are having the toughest time. They face many challenges, including poor working conditions and not having much control over their tasks. They also have fewer chances to grow in their careers and lower overall job satisfaction compared to others. The link between the quality of someone’s job and their job security, health, and happiness points out the big challenges self-employed people face in Europe.

A critical juncture

In lieu of the declining number of self-employed workers and the job strain some experience — you could even make the argument that the future of self-employment in Europe is at a critical juncture, the duality of which is perhaps best described in the report’s conclusion about self-employment.

“When self-employment is not a genuine choice, self-employed workers miss out both on the advantages usually offered by self-employment.”

“It can provide individuals with the opportunity to realise their own ambitions in a way that provides significant autonomy and control over their work. And it can boost innovation and job creation”, as the report states. “However, when self-employment is not a genuine choice, that paints a different picture. Self-employed workers miss out both on the advantages usually offered by self-employment and on many of the protections offered by labour law and social insurance.” 

Oxford research: Investing in employee well-being (tools) have no effect!

Oxford researcher William Fleming conducted the study, delving into the experiences of over 46,000 employees across 233 organizations. He explored the efficacy of a myriad of programs, from mindfulness training to stress management webinars and more. The findings were surprising. Most well-intentioned initiatives did not significantly improve employee satisfaction compared with those who chose not to participate.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty, let’s take a look at the Forbes article that sparked our interest in this revelation. So, what gives? Should we abandon the ship on wellness programs altogether? Well, not quite. Let’s dissect the findings and see what matters when it comes to employee well-being.

The Harsh Reality Check – Do Wellness Programs Make a Difference?

Fleming’s research underscores a stark reality. The potential positive impact of seemingly well-intentioned programs such as mindfulness, online coaching, and even sleep apps is at best marginal, an elusive glimmer. Only when employees actively engage in workplace-sponsored volunteer activities does genuine positivity emerge. But hold on, there’s more to the story. Certain programs, notably those focusing on resilience and stress management, appear to yield a counterintuitive effect. Participants reported diminished mental health compared to their non-participating counterparts. The debate still rages: do these programs cause harm or does stress simply push individuals to enroll? The jury is still out, but one thing’s clear. It’s not the wellness silver bullet we were hoping for.

Breaking Down the Essentials – What Matters?

If these programs aren’t the magic cure-all, what aspects should employers prioritize for sustainable employee well-being? Here are the standout factors backed by research:

  • Autonomy and Meaningful Work: Employees thrive upon the autonomy and meaningfulness of their work. They excel when entrusted with control over their tasks, finding purpose in what they do. It’s not just about the paycheck, it’s about the value they contribute.
  • Flexibility and Reduced Commute: The allure of remote work, far from being a mere trend, is rooted in its capacity to enhance job satisfaction. It offers reduced commute time and flexible work arrangements.
  • Positive Work Environment: Nice colleagues and a good boss go a long way. Building a positive work culture fosters collaboration and boosts morale.
  • Balanced Schedule and Manageable Workload: A favorable, balanced schedule coupled with a workload that avoids burnout: these elements form the cornerstone of employee well-being.
  • Fair Compensation: While not the sole driver, a sufficiently high salary significantly enhances financial well-being. Let’s acknowledge that financial stability does indeed matter.
The Road Ahead for HR and Recruiters

In conclusion, we may not find the wellness landscape to be the miraculous solution that we had imagined. However, there is still hope. We should shift our focus towards empowering employees through strategies and nurturing a work environment where autonomy, meaningful tasks, and positive relationships predominate. Ultimately, being an exemplary employer transcends mere reliance on applications or courses. It requires crafting a workplace that fosters employee flourishing.

For a deeper dive into the research, check out the full Forbes article here.

 

 

If you liked this article and want more insights on attracting and retaining the best talent in Europe, subscribe to ToTalent’s weekly newsletter. You’ll get exclusive content, events, and expert insights.

France Opens Doors to 30,000 Indian Students: Breaking Down Barriers for Higher Education

Background: France and International Students

France boasts a highly respected education system, attracting over 350,000 international students annually according to the OECD’s “Education at a Glance 2022” report. However, Indian students represent a relatively small fraction of this population. The “Study in France” website indicates that in 2020-21, while France hosted over 340,000 international students, only around 7,600 came from India (https://www.campusfrance.org/en). This initiative aims to significantly close this gap.

Breaking the Language Barrier: “Classes Internationales”

The new “Classes Internationales” program removes this barrier by offering English-taught specialized courses. Renowned universities across France are developing dedicated programs in various disciplines, encompassing fields like engineering, management, and the arts.  The program seeks to recruit a wide group of foreign students, with a concentration on those from India. While the program offers greater accessibility for Indian students, the curriculum will be carefully curated to align with a diverse student body’s interests and career aspirations. This approach provides a pathway to pursue academic goals in France without the initial language requirement.

More Than Language: Streamlined Visas and Alumni Benefits

The initiative extends beyond language. France is simplifying the visa application process for Indian students enrolled in the program. Additionally, Indian alumni who complete a master’s degree in France will be eligible for a five-year short-stay Schengen visa, fostering long-term connections and knowledge exchange. (The Economist Times)

Motivations and Impact: Strategic Partnership and Economic Benefits

This initiative reflects France’s desire to strengthen its strategic partnership with India, the world’s fastest-growing major economy. By attracting talented Indian students, France aims to:

  • Boost academic and cultural exchange: Foster collaboration between institutions and enhance cultural understanding.
  • Attract skilled professionals: Equip Indian graduates with French qualifications, potentially leading to employment opportunities in France and beyond.
  • Diversify its student body: Inject fresh perspectives and enrich the campus environment.
Conclusion:

France’s initiative paves the way for a new chapter in international education, marking a shift towards inclusivity and accessibility. This initiative also is a strong move for attracting future talent and improving the attractiveness of France on the global talent market. By eliminating the language barrier and offering attractive benefits, “Classes Internationales” fosters a unique collaboration between France and India, nurturing talent, cultural exchange, and knowledge transfer. This innovative program holds immense potential to shape the future of international education and give vision to international (campus) recruitment.

 

 

If you liked this article and want more insights on attracting and retaining the best talent in Europe, subscribe to ToTalent’s weekly newsletter. You’ll get exclusive content, events, and expert insights.

Tech and Talent – A Rollercoaster Ride in the Recruiting World

First on the agenda was Google for Jobs. rumors surged about an imminent launch of a pay-per-click solution by Google. It was a no-go since last year’s pilot program took a dramatic nosedive rather than soaring to success. This outcome left many wondering: what comes next? The tech giant appears to be pausing its job-related ventures, presenting a wide-open field for competitors such as Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and LinkedIn. They can now be relieved.  

HireVue, the experts in video interviews, underwent a surprising transition. Jeremy Friedman, formerly of Schoology and renowned for his proficiency in technological growth, is now assuming the role of CEO. However, here’s an interesting twist. He is a newcomer to the HR arena. This one immediately raised an eyebrow for Joel and Chad. Will this fresh perspective revolutionize the situation, or are we about to experience a rocky ride? 

Now, let’s talk about X (no we don’t mean the mysterious one), but Twitter’s job feature, X-jobs. It’s like a throwback to the ’90s with prominently featured job advertisements. As Twitter makes its move for relevance in the current job market, the hosts remain skeptical and honestly, unswayed. In reality, recruiters may not enthusiastically embrace the management of their job postings through featured icons and verified badges. This approach could potentially prove ineffective. This is a blast from the past that is likely to be a flop.  

What’s the real eyebrow-raiser though? Indeed. It’s getting back to basics with “Indeed Plus.” They have opted for a traditional approach. This includes distributing jobs across multiple boards and thereby invoking nostalgia for an era when this practice was revolutionary. The twist? This is AI-powered and pay-per-click. While a few may perceive this as a nostalgic approach, others speculate whether Indeed is falling behind in terms of innovation. 

The union front is also making waves, with UPS cutting jobs and CEO Carol Tome saying goodbye to the hybrid work schedule. Will this move be a knockout punch for the workers or just a temporary setback? As UAW gains ground, it intensifies its fight for auto industry workers’ rights. 

So, to wrap it all up, the tech and talent rollercoaster is in full swing. It seems to be ushering unexpected twists and turns for the year 2024. Recruiters, brace yourselves for a thrilling journey ahead. Trust us, it will be nothing like the same old rollercoaster ride at your local amusement park.  

 

 

If you liked this article and want more insights on attracting and retaining the best talent in Europe, subscribe to ToTalent’s weekly newsletter. You’ll get exclusive content, events, and expert insights.

Six predictions about the temporary employment sector in 2024 

This article is made possible by Zipconomy and Flexnieuws

#1. What do you stand for? The mantra for 2024 

  


Han Mesters, ABN AMRO 

Han Mesters expects 2024 to be significantly influenced by the ongoing effects of the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza. This influence is already visible in certain EU countries. For instance, the Netherlands’ GDP data for the third quarter of 2023, shows a decrease in both imports and exports. This indicates we’re entering a period where global connections are shifting, impacting industries like transportation and manufacturing. Despite these global changes, the job market still faces a shortage of workers.  

This situation is bringing about two major changes: First, the focus is shifting from the type of job contract to the importance of having the right skills and abilities.  

Second, there’s a growing trend of “conscious quitting,” where people leave jobs that don’t align with their personal values, particularly around ethical and environmental issues. 

The importance of sustainability is becoming a crucial factor, especially for the younger generation entering the workforce. This emphasis on eco-friendly practices and ethical values highlights the increasing need for companies to focus on environmental responsibility to attract and keep talented workers. 

Han Mesters, ABN AMRO
 

#2. Increasing WML leads to less availability on the labor market 


Maudie Derks, Acture 

Maudie Derks highlights the upcoming significant increase in the minimum wage starting January 2024. Despite moving to an hourly wage calculation, for a standard 40-hour work week, the minimum monthly wage will exceed EUR 2,300. This adjustment aims to motivate people to seek employment or increase their working hours, underlining the principle that work should be financially rewarding. 

However, Derks points out two unintended consequences of this increase: 

  • Employers are seeing a surge in requests from employees who adjust their working hours to balance their earnings with government benefits, aiming to keep their monthly income constant while reducing work hours. This trend is particularly noticeable in sectors with a high prevalence of part-time jobs, such as cleaning, catering, and home care.
  • The minimum wage hike also affects benefits tied to it, like those under the Sickness Benefits Act and the WGA, causing all related benefits to rise proportionally. These increases often surpass the wage scale adjustments seen in many collective labor agreements, narrowing the financial gap between working and receiving benefits. This could potentially discourage work participation.

Derks predicts that despite the positive intentions behind the minimum wage increase, it may not lead to the hoped-for outcome of more individuals working additional hours, especially during a time when the labor market is already tight. This reflects a complex challenge in balancing wage policies with labor market participation.

Maudie Derks, Acture 

#3. Courageous political choices are needed 


Jurriën Koops, ABU 

Jurriën Koops emphasizes that 2024 will continue to see challenges in the labor market due to its tightness. He points out that there’s a general reluctance among people to work longer or more hours, and there’s also resistance to labor migration and the adoption of robotization. According to Koops, this situation is becoming increasingly critical, necessitating bold decisions from political leaders. 

He argues that these decisions should be guided by two fundamental questions: Which jobs do we want to retain and do we have enough workforce to fulfill these roles? Koops suggests that it’s time to move beyond short-term fixes and confront the issues directly, implying that the era of easy solutions is over.  

Jurriën Koops, ABU
 

#4. Flextech wins over recruitment tech in 2024  

Geert-Jan recruitment trends totalent.eu

Geert-Jan Waasdorp, Director Intelligence Group 

Geert-Jan Waasdorp, noted that the number of jobs in the flexible work market has gone up by almost 40% in the last five years. With the demand expected to level off in 2024, supply and demand will become more even. However, not everyone entering the market will find success. 

He also notes that online platforms for flexible work are becoming more popular than traditional job agencies, job boards, and social media. These platforms and brokers are becoming key in helping employers find workers. With the growth of Total Talent Management, technology for flexible work (‘flextech’) is becoming more important than traditional hiring technology. 

Geert-Jan Waasdorp, Director Intelligence Group
 

#5. 2024: a transition year in the labor market? 


Chris Neddermeijer, Nétive VMS   

Chris Neddermeijer from Nétive VMS shares insights from 2023, noting a 2.6% decrease in temporary jobs, a more than 30% increase in self-employed contracts, and an 11% increase in secondment roles, according to their data. The number of candidates for temporary jobs also dropped significantly. Despite a 1.5% predicted economic growth in 2024, the shortage of talent is expected to continue. 

He highlights a mismatch between what employers offer and what younger workers want, leading many organizations to use AI tools to bridge this gap, with varying success. Recruitment efforts that focus on a company’s culture and values still prove effective. 

Neddermeijer acknowledges the growing role of AI in recruitment, suggesting that 2024 will be a pivotal year to determine which AI strategies are most effective, marking it as a year of transition in recruitment practices. 

Chris Neddermeijer, Nétive VMS 

#6. A bright spot in economic growth, but the flexible sector sees dark clouds 

Sjuk Akkerman, Senior Sector Banker Services & Leisure ING Business Banking 

Sjuk Akkerman from ING Business Banking reports that ING predicts a modest economic growth of 0.7% in 2024, which is a small improvement over 2023. However, the forecast for the temporary employment sector is not as positive, with an expected decline of 4% in 2024. This downturn is anticipated due to upcoming regulations, such as mandatory certification and labor market reforms, which will increase the costs and reduce the flexibility of temporary jobs. As a result, there’s an expected move towards other forms of flexible work, like self-employment, particularly among young people. 

Sjuk Akkerman, Senior Sector Banker Services & Leisure ING Business Banking 

This article is made possible by Zipconomy and Flexnieuws

If you liked this article and want more insights on attracting and retaining the best talent in Europe, subscribe to ToTalent’s weekly newsletter. You’ll get exclusive content, events, and expert insights.

Read more:

4 winning strategies in 2024 for attracting and retaining talent in today’s competitive job market by LinkedIn 

#1. Make culture visuable 

Allowing employees to share their positive experiences and achievements can significantly enhance a company’s appeal, as evidenced by a 50% increase in qualified applicants observed by organizations that actively promote their culture. Additionally, clearly communicating the company’s vision and values, especially through digital channels, can dramatically improve visibility and attract the attention of prospective hires. 

#2. Show and invest in career development and internal mobility 

The opportunity for career progression within a company is a major consideration for job seekers, with 60% indicating that growth prospects are a key factor in their decision-making process. By highlighting paths for professional development and internal mobility, companies can attract new talent while also retaining existing employees, effectively reducing recruitment costs by up to 30%. 

#3. Health is a pull factor 

Health and well-being benefits have emerged as paramount, with 80% of workers considering them a decisive factor in their employment choices. By tailoring benefits packages to meet the varied needs of employees, including flexible PTO policies and mental health support, companies can significantly bolster employee satisfaction and loyalty. 

#4. Flexibility is key

Workplace flexibility has also become a defining expectation, with 70% of professionals anticipating remote work opportunities at least part-time. Offering varied work arrangements caters to a wider audience, appealing especially to those who value the ability to balance professional responsibilities with personal life. 

Implementing strategies that promote a positive organizational culture, facilitate growth opportunities, enhance benefits, and support flexible working models is crucial for businesses aiming to attract and retain a diverse and talented workforce. These measures not only appeal to a broad range of job seekers but also foster a committed and satisfied team, essential for the long-term prosperity of any company. 

Read more:

If you liked this article and want more insights on attracting and retaining the best talent in Europe, subscribe to ToTalent’s weekly newsletter. You’ll get exclusive content, events, and expert insights.