Recruitment consultants must adapt in order to appeal to HR directors who have to cope with increasingly small budgets.

That is according to members of the Association of Executive Recruiters (AER), who were discussing issues surrounding recruitment during a seminar on the subject.

The AER stated that there are specific times when a search consultancy is the obvious place to go, such as if a company is recruiting for a very senior position, if there are not many candidates, or if it is urgent and HR do not have the resources to commit to it.

Former HR director of online travel agent Opodo and founder of Aequus Consulting was quoted as telling AER members: "It is an extremely expensive decision to go to search and so it has to be right and justified."

He added: "HR directors will be looking for more cost effective methods and for flexibility in the way fees are charged as most of them would have had their budgets slashed."

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation has given its backing to the new Equality Bill suggesting that it will give employers the impetus to make their workforce diverse.