I have heard it said often that recruiters never choose to be in the recruitment industry, but rather that it was the industry that found them. Ignorance of the recruitment industry is the norm outside the HR and talent sourcing sector, and I am sure many recruiters have been asked, 'What is the recruitment industry?' Here are some basic facts about the recruitment industry in Australia, courtesy of IBISWorld: the industry has revenue in excess of $3.1 billion and has experienced growth of 6.1% over the last five years, ending December 2013. There are also approximately 7300 agencies in Australia, which employ about 22,500 staff, and the spread of agencies generally reflects the population spread in Australia.
This means that NSW and Victoria dominate in terms of the number of agencies. The prevalence of business' head offices in Sydney and Melbourne also concentrates agencies in these cities. Rather than answer the question of what is the recruitment industry, I always answer the question by explaining what the recruitment industry is becoming. Many industries have to adapt, and recruitment is no different – it's been undergoing constant change since its inception. So, here is my answer:
The recruitment industry is becoming even more competitive than in previous years. Although barriers to entry are increasing through the use of technology and the cashflow requirements of maintaining contract and temp staff, it is still relatively easy to start your own recruitment agency. For recruitment agencies, however, the fierce competition from other agencies is being replaced by the competition from recruitment teams working within organisations. Just like other industries, recruitment is being disrupted by technology. Social media and software tools have taken some of the mystery out of the ability of recruiters to identify and introduce talent to prospective employers. But just as the fax disrupted the delivery of CVs in person, email killed the fax, and now social media is changing the way we engage with job boards, the recruitment industry adapts and survives, simply because it is more than just sending a CV and is much more about people doing business with people. In summary, the recruitment industry is more complicated than most expect and is changing all the time.