Research Outline

Recruitment Industry


To determine the market size of the recruitment industry in North America, Europe and Asia, identify leading established and emerging players, their market share, trends, themes, predictions, and a value chain analysis (gaps between what recruitment firms offer and the needs of corporations).

Early Findings

Recruitment Industry Market Size

  • The recruitment industry includes agency work, direct recruitment, career transition, recruitment process outsourcing, and managed services providers. According to 2019 World Employment Confederation report, the industry was estimated at $457 billion in 2017, with agency services representing the largest share of this revenue ($275 billion) and managed service providers (who generally take on ownership of a company's workforce program) comprising an additional $95 billion.
  • The global recruitment market was estimated at $200 billion by Forbes in 2017 (likely primarily representing agency services), projected to grow to $334 billion by 2025. This growth rate represents a 5.63% CAGR.
  • North America is the fastest-growing regional market, driven by the presence of major players in the industry, the use of technology in recruitment, and investment in the recruitment industry. WEC estimated the North American agency market at $143.0 billion in 2017 (with the US representing the largest share of this revenue, at $129.8 billion), followed by Canada, at $5.6 billion).
  • The US recruitment and staffing market was projected to decline 21% in 2019 due to COVID-19.
  • Europe and APAC also hold significant shares in the global recruitment market, due to merger and acquisition activity in the industry. Asia-Pacific was estimated at a market size of $68.25 billion (according to WEC), while Europe is projected at $147.3MM in 2017.
  • These dollar figures are derived by converting 2017 agency revenue from Euros to dollars at a 1.11 exchange rate, with North America including US (€116.9), Canada(€5.9), and Brazil (€6.1), Asia-Pacific including China (€3.7), Japan (€53.6), and India (€10.6), and Europe including UK (€34.9), Germany (€34.5), France (€20.9), Netherlands (€10.6), Italy (€7.5), Belgium (€5.9), and Spain (€5.2).

Key Players (Established and Emerging) and Market Share

  • The global recruitment industry is highly fragmented.
  • Leading players include ClearCompany, Adecco, Workable, Randstad, Jobvite, Manpower Group, LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, Indeed, and Monster.
  • Based on 2018 revenue, the largest recruitment companies in the United States include Allegis Group (6.9% market share), Adecco (3.1% market share), Randstad Holding (3.2%), Robert Half (2.5%) and Kelly Holding (2.4%), which assumes a total US market size of ~$150 billion (6.9%/10.2 billion Allegis revenue).
  • Some top Asia recruitment firms include JobAccess Ltd, Korn Ferry International, Charter Global, Resource Solutions, and International Staffing Consultants. Some of these firms are global, with operations in Asia-Pacific.
  • Top European recruitment firms by revenue include Venturi Group (Information Technology), Adecco, Impellam, Hayes, and Reed. Emerging companies include Zenjob, Integrify, and Signspot.
  • Techworld highlights some top recruitment startups, including Applied, Beamery, and Pathfinder.

Future of Recruitment (Trends and Predictions)

  • Positive recruitment industry trends (growth drivers) include an upward trend in mergers and acquisitions, declining unemployment (prior to COVID-19), growth in industrial production, and growth in online recruitment platforms and processes.
  • Other trends include a growing new business environment, and accelerating job openings.
  • Technology is also a dominant theme impacting the industry at present, including the use of artificial intelligence (AI), mobile technology, big data, and social media. AI in particular leverages algorithms that helps identify appropriate candidates for specific roles.
  • Negative trends impacting the recruitment industry include declining workforce participation, an aging workforce, and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic.

Value Chain Analysis: Gaps Between Recruitment Firms and Business Needs

  • Gaps between employers and recruitment firms reflect a disconnect between candidate qualifications and interests and employer needs, including wage gaps, employers being too selective, employees being too selective, and lack of flexibility on both sides.
  • Staffing firms also must deal on occasion with less-than-honest candidates, keeping their own company staffed with qualified recruiters, and managing the volume of candidates to ensure companies are matched with the best candidate.

Summary of Early Findings

  • We were able to find some information around market size for the recruitment industry, which appears to range between $275MM to $457MM globally, depending on which recruitment services are included in the industry definition. Regional information was generally found behind paywalls. Given the various definitions of "recruitment industry" and somewhat varying estimated market sizes from alternative sources, we provided a range of estimates, which we attempted to define and explain above.
  • We were able to find the most detailed company-specific information in the US, the largest North America recruitment region. We were able to identify some large and recommended recruitment firms in each region, as well as provide an initial glimpse of startups and disruptors in the recruitment industry.
  • We also found information surrounding current and future trends in recruitment.
  • Given time constraints, we did not find a substantial amount of information about the value chain and gaps between employers and recruitment companies.
  • Our recommendations are based on providing additional depth beyond what was provided in early research.