These are the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Resourcing Think Tank (RTT) held on Thursday 13th March 2014 hosted by Polycom’s Nick Turner (EMEA Talent Manager) titled ‘Innovation and Efficiency in Recruitment Technology’.
The following summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior HR and Resourcing professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.
When it comes to recruitment, do you look upon technology as an enabler or do you find yourself bewildered by the many ‘silver bullet’ solutions that continually seem to pop up? Whatever your stance, there’s certainly no denying the multitude of opportunities available to recruiters for candidate identification, candidate screening, improving the candidate experience, talent pooling or managing the referral process.
Using technology to refresh your direct sourcing
In today’s competitive market recruiters need to work harder to tap into the places where their future top talent hang out. It’s a question of thinking outside the box and using technology to open up more channels to access these candidates. For example when sourcing IT professionals, are you making contact with the individuals who write reviews on pieces of ‘kit’ or software on Amazon? Innovation is a mind-set as opposed to a flashy new gadget that ‘will’ solve all your recruiting dilemmas.
Application tracking systems (ATS)
One of the key pieces of technology that should be central to any recruitment function is an ATS. However, in many cases it’s clear that functionality is seriously lacking. For many businesses even being able to run a candidate search on their recruitment database is completely out of the question! And with direct sourcing being a clear priority for most internal resourcing functions, it makes you wonder how this objective can realistically be achieved. A good ATS should be intuitive, be searchable, make the life of a recruiter easier, be mapped back to the workflows of the business and importantly enable engagement between a business and their candidates. Recruiters are now starting to recognise that they need to think more like marketers when sourcing candidates to create that engagement and offer a positive experience. When it comes to selecting an ATS, what you’re really after is a recruitment solution blended with a CRM, to enable that all important injection of targeted communication and engagement.
With many candidates being in the enviable position where they have multiple job offers / opportunities on the table, creating a positive experience during the recruitment process is key and technology can absolutely be an enabler for making this happen. When looking at screening and selection, using skills based testing and situational judgment tools like ‘gamification’ can be incredibly effective. These assessment methods can help save time, test cultural fit, provide an indication of competency, remove bias and obviously add more of a scientific element to the process.
Whilst we all know that you can’t beat a face-to-face interview, we’re fortunate enough that technology has evolved to a point where we have options (should a physical meeting be impractical). Through telephone conferencing, live video interviewing and pre-recorded video questioning, we’re able to use technology to make the recruitment process more efficient. Many of us will still rely on phone screening in the absence of a face-to-face meeting (perhaps we’re still a little afraid of Skype and similar tools!) but it’s totally beneficial to utilise the tools available to us. Video interviewing is absolutely the next best thing to meeting someone in person. You’re able to build greater rapport, emphasise your point more clearly, use your body language to gesture appropriately and it also eliminates any ambiguity that might occur if you were just speaking over the phone.
Ultimately your recruitment processes needs to reflect key elements of your organisation. Is most of your business done remotely? If so, building engagement over the phone or via Skype is going to be a skill that needs testing; can you conduct all your interviews for such positions remotely? Furthermore, if you’re a business that claims to be at the forefront of technology, your recruitment process needs to back up these claims.
The power of social media (of course it had to be mentioned somewhere!)
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to employer branding, candidate engagement and candidate identification – it opens up a path for you to make contact with candidates who might typically have been out of reach. However it very much comes down to how you use it – if abused you will actually end up doing more harm than good. For example spamming members on LinkedIn with in-mails is going to create an incredibly negative impression. In fact, many professionals are so sick of being approached by recruiters that they are stripping back the information they provide on their profiles to deter people from making contact. Google+ seems to be a much softer route for approaching prospective candidates as they’re not straight on the recruiter defence! What’s more you don’t actually have to be connected to a user to send them a direct email and when you do, your message will land straight in their gmail inbox rather than being hidden away on their Google+ account.
As highlighted above, social media provides a great opportunity for recruiters to enhance their employer brand and build engagement with the types of individuals they want to recruit in the future. However when using this tool you need to think specifically about the audience you are addressing and realistically whether they’ll be interested in the content you are sharing. The benefit of using both LinkedIn and Google+ is that you can segment your audience so you’re only sharing specific things with certain groups of people.
One of the downsides of implementing multiple recruitment technologies and systems concerns integration. What is talking to what?! It can become incredibly complicated (and ultimately unproductive) if there is a disconnect between one piece of technology and another. For example, imagine the headache if you were trying to run a totally separate ATS, CRM, HR system and LMS all at the same time! The good news is that with the evolution of the ‘cloud’ and web-based systems, most technology providers will offer an open API (application programming interface) which makes integrating certain pieces of software relatively straight forward. When looking into purchasing new technologies always consider the feasibility of integration when making your final decision. What you don’t want is a process so complicated that it’s impossible to extract any meaningful MI out of the system!
Technology doesn’t come cheap and when you’ve spent time and money developing a fit for purpose process to make your recruiters’ and hiring managers’ lives easier, the most frustrating thing is when they fail to comply. All the relevant training can be implemented but it’s still not enough. We are talking about changing behaviours after all! There ultimately needs to be a negative implication or a disadvantage to them if they fail to follow a process in the correct way. Perhaps a proportion of their bonus could be weighted against systems compliance? Or maybe the next step in the process wouldn’t be available to them if they haven’t completed the previous steps in full? For example, can they progress a candidate to offer stage if a copy of their passport hasn’t been added to the ATS?
When it comes to investing in recruitment technology, as expected, the overriding theme is keeping it simple, starting with your aspirations and working backwards. Whether you’re looking to enhance the candidate experience or improve the selection process – you need to decide on your key objectives and select the most appropriate technologies that will enable you to achieve them. Ultimately, technology needs to enhance your current process and be simple enough to avoid recruiters and hiring managers from failing to comply. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when implementing new technologies is changing your workflows to fit with a system (unless of course you’re improving them!) – a system should be mapped to the way you want to run your business and not the other way around. Technologies will never replace the recruitment process and business’s that use technology to aid their processes tend to be happy and run efficiently; those who expect it to replace recruitment will forever be chasing a solution that doesn’t exist.
- Technology should be used to bring you closer to your candidates rather than further away
- ‘Real people’ need to be able to use the system – how easy is it to use and what level of training will be required to make the best of it?
- Technology should be implemented to enable you to do ‘great old fashioned recruitment’
- Map the existing workflows of your business back to your technology solution (not the other way around!)
- Understand where your talent ‘hangs out’ and think outside of the box when it comes to approaching and engaging with them
- Step away from what you know and look at options which may enhance your business processes
- Don’t forget to sustain and embed core recruitment skills when implementing technologies
- Recruitment functions need to have innovative mind-sets, rather than relying on the technology to bring the innovative element
- Implementation, training and compliance will ultimately decide how successful a new piece of recruitment technology is
- Recruiters are making the shift to becoming sales / marketing experts by utilising consumer marketing tools to attract and engage candidates.