In my ten years as CEO of Hays, I have never seen the world of recruitment and staffing evolve as rapidly as it is today.
I’m sure many of you can remember the days when sourcing staff involved advertising a role in a newspaper and waiting for applications to arrive in the post. Then came the rise of internet – which revolutionised the industry by giving these ads mass exposure and gave candidates the tools to proactively market themselves to employers. As a result, businesses and recruiters received (and still do receive) countless numbers of applications from only individuals actively interested in a new role at the time, many of whom unsuitable. We refer to this approach as ‘Advertise & Apply’.
We know that success with this method of recruitment is not as impressive as it was once thought. At the same time, pressured by unprecedented skills shortages, businesses continue to struggle to find and attract the best talent. Why? Firstly, this model results in huge volumes of applications, significantly decreasing the likelihood of finding the best candidate. And secondly, it risks weakening the established personal relationships between candidate and recruiter.
By relying on this old model, the potential to accept a ‘good rather than great’ candidate – or even make a poor hiring decision – is far more likely. This is not a productive or enjoyable experience for the recruiter, the hiring organisation, or the candidate. Yet, the ‘Advertise & Apply’ approach remains prevalent across the industry today.
Putting the relationship back at the heart of recruitment
But, it doesn’t have to be that way. The advent of data science and artificial intelligence means that the sands are again shifting beneath our feet. As a result, we’ve been developing and are deploying our new ‘Find & Engage’ approach, which we believe will usurp ‘Advertise & Apply’, and become the only effective way to operate in recruitment.
This new model takes the best recruitment practices and candidate relationships that Hays consultants have developed over many years, and combines those with today’s emerging technologies and data science techniques to ensure that recruiters are able to find the very best candidates for any role, whether they are overtly looking for a new opportunity or not.
Employers and recruiters now have the ability to connect with a limitless number of potential jobseekers. However, finding the best people amid this crowd can be a real challenge. Plus, the sheer volume of information out there also makes it more and more difficult for jobseekers to find the roles they find most interesting. So, unless an organisation has sophisticated data analytics tools and can publish targeted, relevant career advice and job opportunities at scale, the dynamically changing digital world will only serve to bring about more problems and less opportunities for those seeking to attract top talent.
In this digital age, one-to-one, personalised communication is increasingly expected by customers. As such, we know that there is no substitute for the long-term one-to-one relationships our consultants build with candidates across sectors, and indeed throughout their entire careers, even when they’re not actively looking for new roles. When combined with digital engagement tools, these relationships become even more important and valuable for both sides.
A calendar of regular, relevant and useful online content can set the foundations here, and can serve as the platform for ‘dialogue’ between candidate and recruiter. By providing specialist insight and advice on a regular basis to a candidate, familiarity and trust grows, thus strengthening the relationship over time. A host of data science and artificial intelligence tools can then track how candidates interact with this content, automatically combining these signals with information from human interactions, thus providing far richer candidate insights.
At Hays, we’re using this information to develop our own ‘Approachability Index’, combining data points ranging from a candidate’s prior application history and engagement with our website content, to collated insights from consultant conversations. The score embodies not just how the timing fits with a candidate’s career journey, but also how the role is likely to fit with their aspirations, and how relevant an approach from the consultant will be based on our relationship with that candidate.
So, when one of our consultants is asked to source a new shortlist of candidates, this added layer of information is invaluable to them. It broadens the talent pool far beyond those who have simply applied for the job, and enables us to precisely pinpoint the best candidates. As a result, we know our candidates better and can provide them with increasingly suitable and appealing opportunities. Meanwhile, the trust we’ve established means that candidates are more likely to respond positively to our consultants when approached, even if they weren’t actively searching for a new role at the time.
This new world of recruitment requires a considerable investment in data analytic capabilities and data science technology. And, I believe that as the ‘Find & Engage’ model becomes the new norm for recruitment, the dynamics of in-house vs. external agency support will change fundamentally. It will shift the balance of advantage in the hiring process towards involving a specialist recruitment company, one capable of delivering a personalised headhunting-like experience, but at a scale and pace not previously possible.
So, no matter your sector or location, whether you recruit in-house or use external agencies, this new approach, focused on cultivating long-term, meaningful relationships and using the tools of our digital world to achieve that, is fast becoming the only way to find the best talent out there. Of course, technology will play its role in this, but only by augmenting rather than replacing human relationships – we must never forget the value of the ‘human touch’ in the recruitment process. In fact, by integrating digital dynamics and data science capabilities with the skills, expertise and relationships of the recruiter, this model will enable personal engagement to be scaled across worldwide talent pools at a rate never seen before.