Is 2020 the year where digital disruption changes the very shape of recruitment, or IR35 causes a seismic shift for the market? We take a look ahead at some of the trends that we expect to see in the digital recruitment industry this year.


IR35 regulation change – let us help you plan

You can’t really get away from IR35 at the moment, it’s everywhere. But we’re increasingly  finding much of what’s being written online regarding how contractors may react tends to be generalised and, given we’re all human, doesn’t take into account that everyone’s motivations are different. We’re currently running a survey to get real insight on this – expect to see the results shortly.

The contract market will change and both clients and contractors need a constructive plan to work with new parameters. But, let’s also not forget that it’s the rules around liability that are changing rather than IR35 in itself.

Contractor roles that are determined to sit outside of IR35 will naturally become more competitive. That said, we’ve also spoken to contractors who have made their peace with the changes and either reset their approach to the market or have taken / are exploring permanent roles. Given the talent shortage on the permanent side and the buoyancy of the digital market at the moment, there are some fantastic packages available so it’s important to remember there are options. Equally, there are contractors who have accepted contracts which sit within IR35 because the work is interesting and they are motivated more by flexibility and variety of projects.

There are comments online stating that some clients are panicking and making sweeping decisions. We haven’t experienced panic when discussing this, with our clients at least. Confusion perhaps, yes, when clients are first looking in to it… but these decisions have been made at the end of thorough risk assessment processes and do actually make sense given the context most of those contracts have been created in. The fact is that they are often doing very similar work to permanent teams elsewhere in the business.

Where there is a legitimate opportunity for contract vacancies to be determined as outside IR35, we are helping clients ensure that their working practices and paperwork support this definition. We also have insurance products to protect client in this instance. So, there’s plenty of constructive conversations happening, as well as realistic decisions being made where contracts do just land inside.

Our advice would be to come and talk to us and find out what works best for you as a contractor / client and better understand how to explore all of the options.


Increasing choice of commercial models for clients

The talent shortage that we’re seeing across the digital industry has encouraged recruitment businesses to shift their approach and adopt different commercial models to address the challenge. In turn, this is giving clients greater choice and allowing them to align their recruitment processes far more tightly against their commercial needs than ever before.

Whether that’s diversifying into offering an on-site retained digital solution such as Futureheads ON, or adopting a more boutique, bespoke approach, the traditional recruitment model is changing and businesses need to adapt to maintain their competitive edge.


Technology working hand-in-hand with recruiters

Digital innovation always promises huge potential, but it does feel like some recruitment products on the market are becoming more impactful where they solve a very specific problem.

For us, the most useful digital products are those which save us time internally on the operations side in order to give us more time back to provide that invaluable human experience for candidates and clients alike.

The role for innovation will work best when enhancing the recruiter, not replacing them, and platforms which do this well will become an integral part of the recruitment process this year. A great example is the software offered by Metaview which helps develop effective interviewers using AI and personalised insights. A product like this could provide exactly the support that’s needed for clients to make better hiring decisions consistently, which will also increase retention further down the line.

We’re also going to see an increase in the use of digital platforms available which help young people make career decisions. It can be difficult for school leavers and graduates to work out their career options so tools such as digital career passports, which are often funded by local government, provide invaluable guidance and increase their employability. They’re a great investment in future talent. Check out


Greater understanding of the difference between recruitment and HR

For many tech start-ups, the line between recruitment and HR is often blurred. Both roles often come together under the generic ‘Talent’ umbrella thanks to budget restrictions or a simple unawareness of the distinction between the two. HR in particular can feel like a distraction for a small early-stage company more focused on launching a product or attracting investment.

But it’s hard to underestimate the value of the right hires in the business in the early stages, particularly bringing in those with an operational background to offer different strengths and viewpoints – it can only benefit the company. We’re definitely starting to see greater recognition that HR and recruitment are separate entities with an equally important role to play. The greater the resources, publicity and support available for those just starting to get to grips with recruitment, the more we expect this to continue this year.

Heading into a new year is always full of surprises, let alone a new decade. 2020 promises to bring  a number of developments across the industry with some challenges, some unknowns and a healthy dose of things to look forward to. Despite a few uncertainties, one thing we do know for sure is that whatever 2020 brings, we will continue to grow, progress and adapt to the ever-changing landscape of our industry. Here’s to an exciting year!


Let us know what you think, how your experience differs, and feel free to give me a call if IR35 is causing any headaches!



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