Recruitment is changing, finally. What was once a repetitive, manual and painful process is becoming increasingly more creative, automated and interesting. Globally, recruitment is being disrupted by digital forces such as the dominance of smartphones, the rise of software and the extensive permeation of social media into professional life.

However, South Africa has added political, legal and regulatory factors that mean that, against this global context, there are specific trends in this country that recruiters and HR professionals should be aware of as they plan their strategies for 2019.

Although the recruitment process and the consequent considerations vary significantly between high skilled and low/medium skilled roles, we consider the general trends that impact both.


1. Recruitment agencies are dying but not yet dead

For a long time, recruitment agencies have been the mainstay of recruitment, especially for high skilled or scarce roles, because they had unique access to candidates. However, the advent of job portals initially and the subsequent arrival of professional networking sites with advanced filtering tools such as LinkedIn, have reduced the ‘information advantage’ that recruitment agencies have. Internal HR and recruitment teams can now use tools such as LinkedIn to identify and engage with the right talent directly. By the end of 2018 there were 5.5 million South Africa-based professionals on LinkedIn, which is half of all people employed in the formal economy and virtually all of the high skilled professionals in the country.

Recruitment agencies are therefore coming under increasing pressure as employers are opting to hire in-house recruitment teams to source talent. This is evidenced by an increased number of closures as well as consolidation in the space. The recruitment agencies that will withstand this pressure will typically be high-end executive head-hunters, whose personal network and high-touch, discrete tap-on the back methods are necessary in this space, and specialist recruiters with deep sector focus, such as IT, engineering and finance.


2. Job boards will give way to social recruiting

Job boards have been fighting to stay relevant as LinkedIn has gradually encroached into their space. They have been doing this by adding new features such as automated filtering and basic applicant tracking systems. However, the noise to signal ratio of job boards remains very high, with the vast majority of candidates applying to job posts being irrelevant. As such, many employers are shunning job boards and instead turning to social networking platforms for recruitment- and not just LinkedIn. Facebook business pages are increasingly being used to boost employer branding and attract candidates. And in 2018, Facebook launched a job posting feature making it even easier for businesses to attract candidates to specific vacancies. Facebook’s broad user base means it could be used effectively for lower- medium skilled hiring.

Even Twitter has started gaining currency to attract talent. Uber founder Travis Kalanick famously used a tweet to hire his first product manager Ryan Graves back in 2009. What was an exception back then is becoming far more common now, given the widespread use of twitter and its natural use as a referral platform.

A further advantage of social recruitment is that employers can view prospective hires’ social activity, interests, status updates and broader network, enabling social screening, CV verification and checks. Although many might regard this as giving rise to potential bias, many employers are starting to use social checks as an additional data point to establish culture fit.


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In this article we examine the likely key changes in recruitment in South Africa in 2019. Specifically, we look at:

  • The fate of recruitment agencies and job boards- will they sink or swim?
  • Social recruiting and recruitment automation- fiction or reality?
  • The latest labour broking and POPI rules- how will they impact you?

About Giraffe

Giraffe is a fully-automated digital recruitment solution that enables businesses to recruit medium-skilled staff faster and more affordably than any other recruitment method. Because Giraffe has automated the administratively intense part of the recruitment process– candidate sourcing, screening and contacting– employers can focus on more important tasks interviewing relevant candidates and managing retention. For more information, visit