It goes without saying that virtual staff recruitment is booming. For those who are continuing to hire through the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, video platforms are pretty much the only game in town.

Last week, Glasgow-based Odro announced that it is on course to double revenues this year to £3 million. The company, which provides video technology specifically designed for recruitment agencies, saw usage soar in the opening months of the first lockdown in the spring, from 200,000 minutes in February to 7.8 million minutes in April.

Chief executive Ryan McCabe said that level of usage has been maintained throughout the rest of 2020 as virtual recruitment has become widely accepted outside of the Gen Z age group where it was previously targeted.

“The problem before was that it wasn’t seen as being for every demographic, but now it is,” he said. “Everyone’s gran did a Zoom quiz during lockdown, and it’s businesses that follow consumer trends, not the other way around.”

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The question’s not so much whether video recruitment has arrived, but the extent to which it will stay after the successful introduction of a vaccine or the pandemic otherwise runs its course. Like many, Change Recruitment managing director Mark McFall believes the next norm will be a hybrid of online and face-to-face techniques.

“Our route has been to find a technology partner on this,” said Mr McFall, adding that a deal is currently in the closing stages of being agreed.

“If you look at our client base, a lot of them are using Teams or Zoom, and that does work to an extent, but what you really want is something that is easy to use in terms of things like going back to review what a candidate said about a particular point.”

Change, which is part of the Scotland’s Taranata Group, has traditionally been focused on the financial services sector but also recruits in fields such as digital IT, marketing and customer contact centres. All of these are areas where both employers and recruits are likely to be more familiar with online processes.

Even so, Mr McFall said that prior to 2020, there remained a reticence to go for wholesale adoption. He believes the onset of Covid has accelerated the advance of video platforms by five years.

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Another sector where online technology already had a decent foothold was the field of executive recruitment where Denholm Associates operates. John Denholm, chairman of the Glasgow-based agency, said there is “no doubt” that video will play an increasingly important role even after the pandemic has passed.

He highlights a shift being brought about in the market as a result of the rise in virtual recruitment, which together with widespread home working has broken down traditional thinking on the need for candidates to live in close proximity to their potential employers.

“Literally this morning we had a case of a client that wants us to find them an e-commerce director, and they had briefed us about this before Covid, saying they wanted someone within an easy commute of the head office, so they had to be local,” Mr Denholm said.

Finding a highly qualified candidate with that skill set in a limited market proved not to be possible in the first instance: “But they have come back to us and said look, we struggled to find the right person last year, and we would now like to loosen the brief and look further afield.”

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Mr McFall of Change Recruitment makes a similar observation about the breakdown of physical boundaries, though it remains unclear how Brexit will impact talent mobility: “I think one thing this may very well do is open up wider work opportunities for people, and for companies to hire talent regardless of where it’s coming from.”

That said, Mr McCabe at Odro predicts candidates and potential employers will, when circumstances allow, still want to meet in real life before signing off on an employment contract. The difference will be that this will come later in the hiring procedure than was the case in the past.

“To be honest, we never want to totally replace face-to-face,” he said. “Humans are social animals, but what we can do is be much more efficient earlier on in the process.”