The changing face of the recruitment industry

28 Nov 2021 / Artisan People

2021 has been an extraordinary year in the world of recruitment, which has potentially changed recruitment industry and how it operates forever.

Here, we interview one of our Founder Directors, Jo Ashworth to find out her thoughts, opinions and predictions for the future.

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I’m Jo Ashworth, and I am one of the founder-directors at Artisan.

You co-founded Artisan People back in 1984. What would you say have been the most important milestones of the last 40 years within the recruitment industry?

Well, I think we’d be here a long time if I fully answer that question, but let’s just pick one. So the main one I’d pick is specialisation. When I started… I’ll give you an example. When I started, I came in as a secretarial consultant. So we were doing… we were selling secretaries, we were finding secretaries for offices.

And I went into the training room, first day at Fleet Street. And we used to put an A-board outside. And the A-board outside, that was advertising for staff. And the A-board outside was asking for chauffeurs. And I said, “Melvin,” who was my trainer at the time, I said, “Melvin, I thought we were a secretarial agency”. And he said, “Well, between you and I, we are a secretarial agency, but we take anything that comes through the door.”

And that’s what it was like then. But since then, specialisation’s the key. And that’s exactly what’s happened to the industry and has happened within Artisan and the work that I do.

During the Pandemic, virtual interviews have become commonplace. Do you see this trend continuing?

Hopefully, not, no. I mean, it might work for certain sectors, certain sectors that actually don’t even interview at all. They work solely on CV, which is enough because of the technical needs and requirements. For us, you need to look into the whites of people’s eyes. And also, because of the Artisan service module, the person that interviews you there takes you on and places you in your place of work.

And as temps, it’s an ongoing function. You lose that… With a Zoom interview, you lose that relationship bonding. People don’t feel as safe in your hands; the whole connection is gone. So from our point of view, no, it won’t. And I hope it doesn’t in other sectors, too.

What role does technology play in the recruitment industry and how do you see this evolving?

Look, technology’s been evolving since word processors back in the nineties. Isn’t it always? Well, I think it’ll always be blended with people-to-people service, personal service. So yes, it will be there. It’s coming. You know what people say? They want technology in our industry, they do. They want apps to check people in, they want people to report their sales, they want to know where their temps are at any given point. At the end of the day, it’s people that really run the service and the offering from Artisan. That’s what makes us good, it’s the people servicing on the ground.

How do you think AI (Artificial Intelligence) will affect recruitment in the future and which careers do you think will be exempt?

For many areas of recruitment, they’ll use it. They’ll use it for preselection and onboarding. Although I believe there was a disastrous project undertaken by a huge online retailer that found out that computers do discriminate. That’s another thing.

As far as Artisan’s concerned, it will have a place in the early stages of selection. But it can’t take place of the human touch. And we’re putting out a lot of temporary staff in a lot of areas. The human touch is absolutely essential.

The areas exempt? Well if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re not going to have any need for AI. Probably lawyers and things like that.

Artisan People is a leading London recruitment agency, what do you think is the secret to your longevity?

The secret to our longevity? I would say it’s relationships. First of all, we’re greedy with our client relationships. Our client relationships last. So once we get a client, we rarely lose it.

And then we’ve got the relationships with our own in-house staff, which is important as well. And the temporaries that we put out in the field. So it’s building those relationships, those connections. And it is, as we say in our logo, hand-crafted recruitment.

What is the difference between recruitment and talent acquisition?

Recruitment is a passive thing. So you go and lobster pot, you go and find staff that way. I’ll give you an example of talent acquisition. The local supermarket to me had this wonderful lady behind the counter. I’d been going there so many times over a number of years, and her customer service skills were absolutely amazing. And one day, I went up to her and said to her, “Would you like to work somewhere else?” And within a few months, she got her pass, and she was working on the floor at Heathrow Airport selling £400 bottles of fragrance.

So through talent acquisition, you can actually develop, spot people, make them achieve things they never thought they could achieve. And in fact, we actually make sure that all Artisan consultants actively talent scout. So everyone walks out and is actually told they have to look for good people, whether it be in a restaurant, the service there, someone in another big supermarket, anyone that shows any sort of promise in terms of customer service experience. We look and we bring them in. And we can change things for them if they want that.

What impresses you more. Attitude or aptitude?

Always attitude. Always. And you knew I’d say that! I like the guy or the girl that’s gone on a paper round, taken a Saturday job. It’s always attitude. You can train people to do anything. It’s the attitude all the way.

Are there any brands that you would love Artisan People to work with, which you have not yet worked with?

Totally. Two in particular. One is Harrods. It’s the one department store in the whole country we don’t work with. That’s always been high on our priority list. Well, it’s the only one left. But yes, Harrods, most certainly. And then on the visitor services side, the Royal Collection. I’ve staffed Buckingham Palace, but to actually staff the Royal Collection is another great aspiration of ours.

If you could give some career advice to your 20 year old self, what would it be?

The best advice I’d give to myself are that deals… There are many deals, but you only have one reputation.

You are renowned for your vision and predicting future trends, what do you think will be the core industry changes over the next 12 months?

In this world where everything can be faked, authenticity will stand out. In this world where there’s nothing that can’t be faked, it is authenticity. And we will go back to the future in terms of customer service and client relationships. And it’s a good thing. It’s a good thing.

What is your future vision for the Artisan brand?

I think it’s to be the most irresistible choice… THE irresistible choice for every client/customer within the sectors we specialise in.


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