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The Role of the Recruiter

Three trends impacting how HR teams approach talent acquisition.

By Michael Switow

Set against a backdrop of a global war for talent -and leveraging 21st century tools such as smart data, targeted communication, machine learning, and gamification -talent acquisition teams increasingly customise the candidate experience in order to create more successful outcomes.

PeopleScout‘s Australia/New Zealand Managing Director Nicole Cook believes that digitisation affects the entire process of talent acquisition, from branding through requisition, sourcing, screening, selection, and hiring.

“When you think about talent acquisition and human resources, for years we’ve been saying, ‘This is what I want,’ and then predicting the people who are going to succeed based on profiles already in the business,” Cook explains. “Now technology has caught up [and can] say, ‘I’m going to tell you: this is who you want.’ The trick with machine learning and artificial intelligence is that it’s [continually] learning and refining. It says, ‘Okay, you hired somebody like that last time and you placed them. This is somebody that meets all those criteria. Go look at them.'”

In this new environment, the role of the recruiter is changing, and there is a greater emphasis being placed on skills such as data interpretation. Marketing -and the ability to close a deal -are increasingly important as well.

Cook says as an example: “In our market, there are 100- plus government-sponsored infrastructure projects, so everyone is going after engineers. How am I going to convince one engineer that my project is better than [a competitor’s] project?” If a competitor is offering more money, the challenge becomes even greater and places pressure on recruiters to demonstrate a value proposition.

Whilst recruiters’ jobs are not in danger, the evolution of the skills required could lead companies to change who they hire for their own HR departments. For example, 70 per cent of employers believe social media marketing will be the most in-demand HR skill by 2020, for example, according to CareerArc which offers tech-based recruitment solutions.

“What are you going to do from a supply standpoint to meet the demand that your organisation has for skills, and then how does the technology underpin that? This becomes a real business case,” Cook explains.

When taking a closer look at digitisation in the recruitment industry, understanding how a company manages big data during a time when privacy is of concern makes a big difference.

“There’s a lot of value for companies in using data and optimising decisions based on that, but how does that connect with privacy concerns?” asks H&M‘s Giorgio Benassi. “Privacy regulations are getting tighter and tighter in parts of the world, notably in Europe.”

“In Japan and Korea, any information you have needs consent. If it’s recognisable to them, it’s their data. Privacy laws are being redone in Singapore as well,” adds Tim Errington, associate director of talent acquisition for pharmaceutical company Gilead.

Fines for privacy violations can be astronomical, and if individuals revoke consent, finding all their data is very difficult for a company to do.

Whilst this is a complicated, sometimes-ambiguous area, PeopleScout’s Cook notes that sourcing technologies generally rely on publicly-available information such as LinkedIn profiles. Social media users are more likely to tighten privacy settings for personal information on platforms like Facebook, whilst ensuring professional data on LinkedIn remains viewable to all.

Companies in the APAC region often use gamification to assess candidates during the application process. As an example, PeopleStrong‘s Nikhil Khattar shares details about a client in the financial sector that is structuring its entire interview process around gamification.

“A candidate plays the game. If he clears it, he’s hired. The person’s past credentials don’t matter. It can be played from anywhere, in one go or in installments,” Khattar says. The game begins with the company’s Code of Conduct – information which might be boring to candidates, but is essential for them to master.

“What scares me is accuracy,” says H&M’s Giorgio Benassi, who has been testing game-based assessments. “If you take the human element out of the system, the game better be fair, transparent, and work like a charm.”

Gamification is the top technology that HR professionals would like their companies to adopt, according to a survey by CareerArc. However, the candidate market has already jumped to virtual reality, with gamification coming in third behind it and predictive recruiting technologies.

As the de facto retirement age creeps higher, there are now five generations in the workforce. Companies such as Siemens divide this diverse range into two groups: digital natives and digital migrants. “The former will come along,” says Cook, whilst “the latter will need help and retraining.”

Similarly, the way that candidates prefer to communicate with recruiters varies by age. “Millennials wonder why we [bother to] call them,” says First Advantage‘s Leanne Chan, so artificial intelligence systems are structured to contact young candidates via apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, and SnapChat instead.

Talent acquisition systems are also focused on transferable skills and related keywords rather than static jobs.

“Artificial intelligence is going to know how to recruit a role before the recruiter has even seen the requisition,” says Cook.

This piece covers the interactive workshop, The Digitisation of Talent Acquisition presented by Nicole Cook, PeopleScout’s Australia/New Zealand Managing Director, at the HRO Today Forum APAC in Hong Kong.

Tags: APAC, Global-Autumn-2017-Supplement, HR Technology, Magazine Article, Talent Acquisition

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