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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.

Today we are in France, a country that went for a relatively long and strict lockdown, that affected as a consequence the economy, which is partly reliant on tourism. Luckily France went on to develop a sustained vaccination program that led to tangible results and the re-opening of the country to tourism in the summer of 2021.

The figures for the creation of private salaried employment in the second quarter (+1.2% quarter-on-quarter, i.e. 239,500 net new jobs) had already illustrated the very dynamic recovery of the labour market. The unemployment figures published this morning by INSEE confirm this. With a drop of 0.1 percentage point in 2Q 2021, the unemployment rate stands at 8% of the active population in France, i.e. a decrease of 16,000 people over the quarter. The unemployment rate is thus a little closer to its pre-crisis level at the end of 2019 and is being driven down by the return of young people to the labour force (source).

Headhunting and Recruitment Market in France

The global career management sector saw a 1% decline in 2019 with an estimated value of €1.9 billion. The two largest markets are the USA and France, which are estimated to represent almost one-half of the sector’s global turnover (48%). Together with the Netherlands, Japan and the UK, they make up the top 5 largest markets which contribute around three-quarters of total revenues. Most of the largest career management markets either remained stable or saw a decline in 2019, with the American, Dutch and British markets being down 2%, 2% and 3% respectively.

The German and Australian markets expanded on the other hand, up 2% and 5%. The year before the Covid-19 pandemic upended the global economy, labour markets were becoming increasingly tight, with more open jobs than job seekers in many countries.

This partly explains the contraction of demand for career transition and outplacement services – the major share of career management activities. With the global pandemic, many workers were displaced and companies needed to restructure. Career transition support is therefore likely to grow in demand in 2021. A company survey conducted in December 2020 amongst the sector’s main professional associations, WEC and ACF International, indicates that the sector is expected to grow by up to 10% across the North America, Europe and APAC regions (source).

There are also the specific positive effects of the youth employment plan, and more globally, of the France Relance recovery plan (+240,000 jobs by 2022 and +120,000 in the long term, according to government estimates presented in the Economic, Social and Financial Report as part of the 2021 budget). There is also the impact of the reforms already underway. Yet caution is still needed given the high uncertainty over the vigour of the recovery, the impact of support measures and the job-rich content of the recovery. However, Pôle emploi’s 2021 survey on companies’ labour need, released early May 2021, sends an encouraging signal, with 2.72 million hiring plans, or 30,000 more than in 2019 (source).

Next, we are going to interview the Associate Director of GRANIT RH, Mr. Xavier Simon. Xavier has been at the head of GRANIT RH since 2011. He will give us his insights on how he sees the headhunting and recruitment market in France.

How are you today Xavier? Thank you for taking your time for this interview. First of all, how are you and how was the summer?

Thanks for asking ! We are still alive, nothing was certain 5 months ago, and we are in pretty good shape after all. The summer was definitely a period of transition. Covid seems to be a bad souvenir and investments start again. Summer was finally busier than the first part of the winter. All frozen projects are coming back into being. Trust in the future is finally back !

How would you comment on the first half of 2021?

The first half of 21′ was crazy, we faced the worse and enjoyed the best. Early 21′, the sanitary situation was darkening all forecast and possible projects. Nothing was really moving, searching was unfruitful, corporates and experts would not leave their job for another, most VP HR, HR directors were themselves not fully convinced and full of hesitation.

Then, the idea that we could, somehow, exit the pandemic, came out.

All frozen assignments came out as per may. Demand from clients came up within only a few weeks, candidates were still on stand-by mode. We started a good number of new searches and we had quite a hard time to fulfill clients’ expectations within a decent deadline. Thanks to hard work and good knowledge of our clients and of the market, we succeeded. Spring was finally back after a 16 month-long winter!

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

Let’s be optimistic, each case we did not do during covid, has to be done in addition to pretty good fundamentals of a growing economy. The second part of 2021 is going to be quite good for the hiring business. There are a lot of positions to fulfill at a strategic level. Most of the boards of directors used the covid time to brainstorm, to re-invent their strategy and to prepare for the post-pandemic world. It is now time to do it.

The market is sustained by a generational rotation, baby boomers and early yuppies are now reaching retiring age and strategic positions are often held by experienced people that will soon need to retire.

What are the industries that are hiring the most?

The crisis was not equal with all industries and companies, due to various reasons. Finally, It accelerated ongoing processes. The packaging, clothing and Car industries did not recover yet. Household equipment and construction are booming. It is a Darwinist evolution, the ones who adapt themselves will survive and grow, the others may face a very hard time.

The world afterward is now!

About that, do you remember last time you bought a suite?  Nobody does! Nobody wears a suit anymore.

What are the roles that companies are needing the most?

I would say that as usual, after a crisis, marketing and sales positions are coming back first.

HR, Finance, Legal and Manufacturing positions have not fully restarted yet. Let’s keep something to do for 2022!

What about the candidate market?

Candidates? Which candidates, there are no more candidates!

We really have a hard time driving people to change and to go further. But it is getting better.

It is a contradiction, Headhunting has never been so easy and so unfruitful at the same time. Reaching people is now extremely easy, they are at home, available for a talk, for an interview. They are curious and open-minded. But they don’t have faith in the future, they are frozen on their sofa, wondering what will happen after lockdown and curfew. Candidates are not ready to leave the company where they work for, are afraid and uncertain, deal with unknown people, trial periods. They play safe.

The work of the headhunter is getting more and more strategic: analyzing candidates’ fears and expectations and driving them to think over in the long run. Talking about the job, the company, the position, the project, the market requires more and more experience and know-how.

It is all about transforming a scared person, hidden behind a laptop, into a motivated and convincing candidate!

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

In a booming economy, companies can’t waste any time or any good people from their organization. They go straight to their target and full force. Competition in the talent market can be severe.

The search consultant is a powerful resource able to detect the right people, get in touch with them and market well the project, the company and its future.

This makes the real difference. The search consultant speaks only to targeted people, asking for their expectations transforming good talents into real motivated candidates. Watching candidates on LinkedIn all over the world and having targeted and motivated people in front of you, in your office, is the real added value that offers a good headhunter!

Thank you for your time Xavier!

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