It has been interesting to see GDPR gradually creep more and more into conversation over the past 12- months. From a recruitment perspective, we saw clients tentatively start to ask about the effects and how to prepare, watched candidates make names for themselves as "GDPR experts" and saw full projects launched to prepare customers for the implications coming in May 2018.

Recruitment is one industry which will have to change to comply and succeed after the new standards come into place. But, Timo Elliott makes a great point here that recruitment companies and other businesses should follow, to use data privacy "as a competitive differentiator, rather than grumble".

What GDPR does offer is a chance for businesses to get rid of old/bad habits, and make some new/good ones. Here's my list of top fears that could be flipped to positives:

  • People "opting-out" or asking to be removed from your database - please, please, please do not be worried about customers who do not want to be messaged by you. If a customer is not receptive to what you are offering, you are either not marketing well or not hitting the right audience. Use these "unsubscribers" as a chance to analyse why people don't want to receive your messages, and use the feedback to critique how you could win them back in the future.
  • Having to ask for explicit consent for automated processes - this cries out for bad methods of marketing. In recruitment for example, if you are still firing out a CV to hundreds of contacts - who may or may not be relevant - you're doing it wrong. The days of "spray and pray" recruitment are over. Like Lawrence Harvey, recruitment agencies should be working in a niche market; finding great candidates and targeting the customers you think you can add value to. In any business, if you want to “mass-market” to groups of customers, then make sure your data is squeaky clean. Speculative marketing can be useful, providing it’s accurate and relevant information.
  • Transparency and accountability about storing data - worried that you need to tell people that you'll be storing their data? Don't be. As with the other points, if you have a good service offering which is attractive to customers then they should have no issue with you retaining their information. Also, why do you really want a gazillion contacts on your database who don't relate to your content?

These are just a few examples of how industry leaders should be spinning this problem into an opportunity.

Within our industry of recruitment, 2018 isn't about the size of your database, but having a quality network and offering value to the people who need it. That’s why I think GDPR is an enabler rather than a blocker.

What do you think?