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InHunt World is a Global Headhunting Network that is currently active in over 40 countries. During this autumn, we are going to go through these countries one by one, usually interviewing the Country Manager or the CEO of the country in question.

We are visiting Estonia today, a brilliant small country with over 2000 islands. The lower population density helped during the last 18 months of the pandemic, as a matter of fact, the population density in Estonia is 30 people per km². That is almost four times less than the EU’s average, 116 people per km² , making Estonia the third sparsely populated country in the European Union.

You might not know that in addition to the traditional four seasons, some areas of Estonia also have a fifth, the natural flood season, beginning at the end of March or early April. Water levels can rise as much as five meters, creating possibilities for canoeing and kayaking.

According to OECD’s PISA results, Estonian basic education is the best in Europe and in the top 8 globally. The level of their students is outranked only by Singapore and Japan, impressive!

Officially the most entrepreneurial country in Europe (source), you can start your own company online here in under 3 hours thanks to their innovative e-business register (source) and if this was not enough, the Estonian Tax Code holds first place in the OECD Tax Competitiveness (source). So no wonder if luckily, the Estonian economy was not overly affected by the COVID-19 economic damages.

Headhunting and Recruitment Market in Estonia

The headhunting and recruitment market has been very active in Estonia, pretty much starting from Summer 2020 already. Basically, this means that there were just a few months with reduced activity in Spring 2020.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, Estonia’s GDP contracted by 1.2 percent year-on-year, which compared to all the other European Union countries, is the smallest decline. Analysts are expecting Estonia’s GDP to grow already by the end of 2021. (source)

Foreign trade fared well despite the restrictions on international transport. The low level of travel services still limited the export and import of services, but trade in goods reached a historically high level. Both, the import and export of goods were boosted by trade in electronic equipment and chemical products, by 14.4% and 8.7%, respectively. The export of wood products also helped to increase exports, while imports were driven by the import of various machinery and equipment.

Kaspar Oja, an economist at the Bank of Estonia stated that the economy’s recovery began during the third quarter of 2020 and continued in October and November. According to Oja, the economic impact of COVID-19 related restrictions is lower than their social impact as sectors with smaller added value are mostly affected.

In 2020 in total, the Estonian economy shrank by 2.9%. Manufacturing, trade, and accommodation, and food services were the main contributors to the economic decline. (source)

In Estonia in 2020, the headhunting market size was about 22 million €, and there are about 100 companies that officially have headhunting services in their service portfolio. Many of these companies are just run by one or two people. The biggest headhunting companies in Estonia have a turnover of between 4 and 9 M € annually. (source)

Next, we are going to interview the Board Member and Director of CVO Estonia, Mrs. Triin Raamat. Triin will give us her insights on how she sees the headhunting and recruitment market in Estonia.

How are you today Triin? Thank you for being with us today. First of all, how are you and how was the summer?

This year, the Estonian summer was extremely warm and beautiful, it was a great gift to us as a Nordic country. I hope that despite the emotionally difficult times, it gave Estonians the opportunity to recover and recharge.

How would you comment on the first half of 2021?

Estonia’s recovery from the coronavirus crisis has been amazingly fast. We already saw the first signs of recovery at the end of the summer of 2020, and since then this recovery has continued. There are probably a number of reasons, but the two main ones are:

1. our organizations have quickly adapted to the environment and reorganized their work processes (especially this means that as much work as possible is done remotely and using virtual channels) and

2. the vaccine gave optimism for a positive future. Of course, there are sectors (such as tourism, catering, entertainment, etc.) that have not yet fully recovered, but there are sectors (including, of course, IT) where the results of the first half of the year have been outstanding.

How do you see the second part of 2021? And what about 2022?

Despite the fact that the coronavirus crisis is still going on, we are very optimistic about the future.

Of course, the crisis places additional demands on the organization of work and the safety of people, but our organizations have been flexible and adaptive, and the government has tried to find reasonable measures to ensure safety, but the restrictions are not excessive.

Our work in a recruitment agency reflects the market very well – if we have a lot of work, then obviously the market is active and booming, and if the opposite is the case, it is also an indication of our economy. In March 2020, around 40% of our work was put on hold, but today we have so many recruitment projects that we had to expand our recruitment team – it’s a very positive sign.

What are the industries that are hiring the most?

Of course, one of the most active industries is the IT industry, and there are two main reasons for that: (1) Estonia is a well-known IT country and we have a large number of IT companies (we already have seven unicorns) and (2) IT companies have been little affected by the crisis, and there are even those who have benefited from it.

At the same time, we see increasing recruitment activity in other industries as well – finance, construction and real estate, production, etc. In general, organizations seem to be preparing for the next growth cycle, and part of that preparation is to build up a strong team.

What are the roles that companies are needing the most?

I think that for many years, IT Developer has been the most needed role. Today it seems that one role is even more needed and that is the one of the recruiter. Organizations are preparing for the next growth cycle, they are developing and expanding their teams and trying to find the best candidates in the market.

The competition is very intense and in order to reach the desired candidates, you need to have good recruiting skills. Therefore, many organizations are looking for an internal recruiter or a recruitment agency to work with. There is still a great need for various IT roles, of course. The biggest need is for IT Developers, but this is not limited to local candidates, companies try to relocate candidates to Estonia or provide 100% remote work whenever possible.

What about the candidate market?

As the recruitment market is very active, competition on behalf of candidates is also very intense. As already mentioned above, this places additional demands on recruitment skills – how to find potential candidates, how to contact and attract them, how to structure the assessment process so that candidates do not give up during it, and so on.

We can see that the quality of recruitment has significantly developed in Estonia, following the example of IT companies (as the war for talents is their daily life). We also see that those organizations that are proactive and innovative in their recruitment activities are also more successful in recruitment. Those organizations that are passive, slow, and old-fashioned are also less attractive to candidates.

The current crisis has also taught us that there are many jobs that can be done remotely. Therefore, we can recruit people for English-speaking roles from any country with a good internet connection. We and many companies are using this opportunity.

What would you say are the top reasons companies choose to work with CVO over some other players in the market?

In Estonia, CVO Recruitment is one of the largest and most outstanding players in its field. Our clients and candidates trust us because we do our work with great dedication and professionalism, using the most modern recruitment methods and expressing a solution and results in orientation at every step. We really deliver and that’s what counts!

Thank you for your time Triin!

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