Article updated 7/13/2020 to include podcast featuring William Tincup and David Wilson

New Research Reveals the Polarized Realities of Recruitment in 2020

The new 2020 Fosway 9-Grid™ for Talent Acquisition is now live, created by Fosway Group, Europe’s #1 HR industry analyst. Here, their analyst team shares some of the key findings on Recruitment in 2020 with us.

With almost everything in the world now seemingly divided into pre-COVID-19 and not-yet-post-but-still-during the crisis. It’s interesting to reflect back on the origins behind Fosway’s first full 9-Grid™ for Talent Acquisition. We published an interim version in 2019 after four years of research in talent acquisition, and over eight years of evolving the 9-Grid™ methodology across our other market areas. Including Cloud HCM, talent management, and next-gen learning.



The way the world was looking for recruitment in 2019…

We decided to focus on talent acquisition for multiple reasons. Including corporate priority for change, market growth and disruption, and the lack of good analyst insight on the main vendor options and their performance. The key factor though was the increasing importance to companies of reinventing talent acquisition.

Both strategic conversations and our quantitative research kept saying the same thing. The key priority for nearly all companies: fix the broken talent acquisition process.

David Wilson, CEO, explains, ‘The ‘war for talent’ remained a cliché for a reason. As all good clichés do. And that’s because it was tough for organizations to attract and retain the best people. Existing recruiting solutions were, frankly, outdated, and just not fit for purpose. Given the massive innovation in the TA market though, over half (53%) of organizations are increasing their investment. Recruiting and onboarding solutions are the top two areas for replacement systems in the next two years.’

So, with a clear research priority, much needed by corporate buyers. The research cycle was set with the intention of publishing our first full 9-Grid™ for Talent Acquisition in April 2020, to be maintained on an annual basis thereafter…


COVID-19 creates two polarised camps in 2020 (and beyond?)

Fast forward to February 2020, where much of the insight was already gathered. Including functional scoring and formal quantitative input from the vendors. Providing thousands of lines of data that distilled into five main areas of focus. The performance, potential, presence, trajectory, and total cost of ownership of each solution that makes into onto the final 9-Grid™.

Often the most telling parts of any of our research are the customer conversations and meetings we have with buyers, heads of, and C-level execs across Fosway’s Corporate Research Network. These are always the most valuable. They give us the inside story of what really works and what doesn’t. As well as what the customers truly think about vendors and their performance. It is this insight that feeds into the rest of the research and primarily influences how we calibrate a solution and its final 9-Grid™ position.

All of this happened before COVID-19 impacted the world. Which has changed the economic climate and subsequently, corporate priorities.

But as Sven Elbert, senior analyst says, ‘recruiting is always a bellwether for economic disruption. And so it proved here too. Even before Europe locked down as a result of Coronavirus, in-house recruitment teams were telling us about hiring freezes and retractions. It made us acutely aware of what was about to happen.’


The next level

Then came the next level of insight. Grocery retailers, logistics and delivery firms, manufacturers of packaging, and obviously healthcare all suddenly facing huge spikes in demand. Needing to hire at a scale and pace that their processes simply weren’t ready for.

David Perring, director of research comments, ‘Organisations dealing with increased demand desperately need the right technology to help process and filter candidates at a scale that probably breaks their existing platforms. At the opposite end of the spectrum, other companies are managing furloughs and lay-offs and for them hiring is on hold.

For them, while investing in recruiting technology is not likely to be a top priority, maintaining visibility and positive relationships with applicants are arguably more important now than ever.’

At a stroke, the recruitment in 2020 landscape has polarised into two separate camps thanks to COVID-19. Fosway is sensitive to the challenges so many people are faced with at this time but believes the story needs telling and still share the analysis.


The market for talent acquisition solutions is wide open. There is everything to play

The goal of the Fosway 9-Grids™ is to support HR teams in seeing what solutions are available on the market and which might suit their unique context. One immediate conclusion from the 2020 9-Grid™ is obvious. There is no Strategic Leader!

Bear in mind that Fosway aims research at European headquartered corporate buyers. Solutions are rated on their performance in the European market. So some vendors might perform better or have a greater presence in the US, or elsewhere. Worldwide, the legacy enterprise leaders were disrupted by innovation from new players, and also destabilized by acquisitions.

They declined under growing pressure from new, best-of-breed specialist providers. As well as by pressure from full-suite Cloud HCM solutions. Candidate relationship management and recruitment market solutions have disrupted traditional applicant tracking systems.

User experience has become critical as corporate buyers seek to create a differentiated candidate experience. Every vendor is adopting artificial intelligence and machine learning technology. Having better intelligence that delivers better hiring decisions, prompts better behaviors, and takes the friction out of the process is clearly beneficial. But from a European perspective, AI still faces real questions regarding implicit bias and even ethics.


A good cliché should withstand crises

For now, the economic pressures brought on by COVID-19 and the resulting impact on unemployment means that some of this will just have to wait. In those organizations still hiring, the focus is going to be on filtering and managing increasing volumes of applications. Solutions that are weak here will find themselves becoming targets for replacement.

As some European countries start to carefully reopen their economies, the overarching question will be if the ‘war for talent’ will resume for those highly sought-after profiles. Or whether labor markets are about to shift into a ‘war for jobs’ instead.

A good cliché should withstand crises and as early indications from Austria (the first European country to reopen) suggest. The number of job openings is likely to jump up quickly once this happens. Let’s hope this trend sees many economies imitating it.

Download a copy of the 2020 Fosway 9-Grid for Talent Acquisition, including the report on solution and market trends here.  Follow @fosway for more updates and insight on recruitment in 2020.

David Wilson

David Wilson is the founder and CEO of Fosway Group, Europe’s #1 HR industry analyst. A major commentator on the HR, talent, and learning industries for over 20 years, David is a strategic advisor to many major corporate and supplier organizations in the UK and Europe. David personally leads Fosway’s research and corporate advisory agenda. He is the author of over 150 research papers and articles, as well as being a leading speaker at major conferences and events around the world. Recognized in 2020 with the Colin Corder award for his outstanding services to the industry, David’s extensive market knowledge and detailed insight of corporate projects and experiences mean he continues to influence the thinking of many of the leading companies and vendors operating in the market today.