How did we end up here?

I currently find myself asking this question over and over in my head at the end of most weeks.

Heading into winter 2020 the strain of working from home during the winter months, the challenges of differentiating between work and home, and the changes to teaching and the impact this had on all working families, took its toll on many. However, in the background businesses across the digital sector started to hire again, started to grow, and started to recruit. This change did not get a huge amount of coverage in the national media, which being honest was not a huge surprise. We did have some other fish to fry. This lack of coverage however led to the generation of a myth that recruitment and recruiting was dead in 2020, period. This was certainly not the case. Personally, I was leading a UK digital recruitment business during winter 2020 and we were seeing a rate of growth across the need for Developers on both a Contract and Permanent basis. Yes, the creative side of digital was very quiet, but areas such as Product management where also starting to grow again. Some businesses were getting ahead and putting their stake in the ground. They were hiring when others were not.

Lots of businesses however were not. Lots of businesses were ‘waiting to see how things go over Christmas and into the new year.’

Jump forward to October 2021 and that is where you find me asking the same question at the end of each week, how did we end up here?

Putting it bluntly, how have we ended up in the position where everyone, I know it’s annoying when people say literally, but literally, EVERYONE is looking to hire at the same time? Yes, there was always going to be a bounce back, but how have we ended up so unprepared for it?

Lets get positive.

Fundamentally businesses want to grow, and people want to move roles, this is a good place to be. What’s that, you thought there ‘are no candidates?’ Bullshit. There absolutely are people looking to move roles right now, 207,000 people started new jobs in September alone.

So how do you get access to this magical pool of people?

Easy. Engage, engage some more, and then, engage even more.

Stop looking for ‘the perfect candidate.’ Stop trying to stand out through traditional means in a world that sees everyone doing the same. Stop looking for candidates who want a fresh challenge. Stop looking for candidate’s full stop. Start speaking to people with shared interests, shared skills, desired skills, and experience and engage them.

How do you engage them? Try these simple steps and you will be on the engagement express in no time:

  1. Reach out, be honest, tell them why you like the look of their history.
  2. Send a video. It’s easier than you think and will humanise you.
  3. Send them content you think they might like based on what you know about them.
  4. Share information about what your business does that is different.
  5. Accept engagement takes time, this is not wham bam, thank you, this is about building long term relationships.
  6. Direct people to external content which proves you live, breathe and believe in what you are trying to achieve.
  7. Send a video. It’s easier than you think and will humanise you.
  8. Don’t be put off if someone doesn’t instantly reply to your first message. Sometimes you have knock on the door a couple of times for someone to hear you.
  9. Share information from your existing team, why do they work for the business and what do they like?
  10. Send a video. It’s easier than you think and will humanise you.


It’s time to switch your mindset. It’s not about how to find people anymore, that’s a basic requirement whenever recruiting. It’s about how you can engage people in you, your business and why your growth should matter to them.

Lots of people are talking about hiring right now. Cut through, no SMASH through, and talk about why you are looking to add great people to your great business, why your business represents a great opportunity for the right person and why you like the look of someone’s journey. You will stand out.

It’s a great time to be looking to grow, but if you have not already it’s time for out with the old and in with the new when it comes to recruitment. Engagement is where that new world starts.

This article was written by Simon Brown, Founder of Digital 51 and passionate believer in creating stories that make organisations shine in a world filled with too much vanilla. Reach out to if you’d like to hear more.