The UK Recruitment Industry

At its simplest recruitment can be defined as the process of attracting, screening, and selecting a qualified person for a job opening. The global recruitment and staffing industry includes recruitment, or employment, agencies providing services for various business enterprises in different sectors. The market can also be grouped into temporary and permanent staffing markets.

Over the past years I have worked on many sides of the recruitment business, as part of business leadership teams, responsible for managing PSL’s, hiring and in consulting to both recruiters and clients on how to improve the process. It is without doubt one of the most complex, challenging, at times intensely stressful and rewarding jobs out there, and the very obvious attractions for anyone looking to a career as a recruiter include:

  • Few things in life have a bigger impact on an individual than landing or missing out on a great job.
  • Research has shown that recruiting ranks as having the most impact on bottom-line revenue and profit of
  • As you fill more jobs, the number of employees grateful to you for helping them land their current job will increase. Hiring managers will also be thankful that you helped them to find and on-board top candidates.
  • Every day you have the buzz of competing against other recruiters
  • Recruiting allows you to get to know lots of people each month.
  • No heavy entrance requirements
  • Great social life
  • Good pay and job opportunities

Globally recruitment varies from one country with the US, Japan and the UK show considerable fragmentation, North America has the single largest market followed close behind by Japan, the UK, France and Germany.

Changing technology and social practices are driving considerable consolidation and transformation across both the established businesses which includes Adecco Group the largest company operating in this industry, Randstad and Manpower. We’re also seeing a lot of relatively new entrants catalysing new approaches to recruitment including,, LinkedIn Corp, and, Craigslist Inc.,,,, and

Globally annual recruitment sales revenue reached a staggering €450.4 billion in 2015, an increase of 8.6% year-on-year. Agency work grew 12% year-on-year and now represents 70% of the total sector revenues. Permanent recruitment is now the second largest accounting for 11% of revenues at €48bn and with Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) accounting for 6% of sales at €27bn.

The North American market at the end of 2015 was made up of 23,233 registered businesses which is really interesting when you compare it to the UK market which has a staggering 8,000 recruitment businesses employing more than 90,000 people. Here are a few more equally staggering UK statistics:

  • 4,083 new recruitment agencies registered with Companies House and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in 2014. This is a 7% increase on the number registering the previous year and double the number of such firms registering in 2010, at the height of the global economic downturn. In 1990 the number of agencies in the country was just 88!
  • 19,823 recruitment agencies currently registered in the UK and the growth in the number is being put down to increased economic activity and the rise in recruiting via social media
  • More than 103,000 people work in the recruitment industry
  • 93% of UK companies now use social media to assist with their recruitment.
  • 634,000 people were placed into permanent roles via a recruiter in 2014/15
  • Since the recession in 2008/09 recruitment agencies have helped 4 million people find new jobs
  • 600,000+ people found new, permanent jobs through recruitment agencies in 2015.
  • 21 people a year on average are placed in jobs by each permanent recruitment consultant
  • 1.1 million agency workers are employed in temporary roles at any one time.
  • £24.1 billion  of temporary/contract recruitment activity in 2015.
  • £2.4 billion value of permanent recruitment activity in 2015.
  • £26.5 billion is the total value of the UK recruitment industry in 2015.
  • Despite Brexit 93% of recruitment firms expect to see their revenue increase this year after 85% of them meeting or exceeding their predications for last year hence 89% of agencies increased staffing during 2015 and 36% moved into new offices.
  • 84% of agencies generating 50% of revenue from repeat client business.

Anthony King

We’re an independent and experienced consulting, programme management and executive resourcing business. We're focused on the needs of both public and private sector clients. We work with all sizes of organisations from local start-ups through to global concerns. Without the cost overheads associated with a much larger consultancy business we have the flexibility to take on small targeted assignments, or much larger work programmes. Every client relationship is valued greatly and treated with dignity and respect. Each engagement benefits from the breadth and depth of our expertise.