Where Did All The Humans Go In Recruitment?

Yesterday I had an enjoyable day at Firefish software’s “the Future of Recruitment” event. The day was focused on how the recruitment industry will change in the coming years. There was a great line up of speakers including Greg Savage, Jonny Campbell from social talent,  Bill Boorman Dave Hazlehurst from Ph Creative,  Kai Murray from Shirlaws and Matt Burney from indeed.

In the last ten years recruiters have embraced technology. It’s improved our access to candidates and clients, but perhaps at the expense of human to human relationships.

The impact of this is that most people see little value in recruiters because most just post a job, screen the response and send CVs. The impact of this is best summarised by Bill Boorman “if your recruiters act like robots then their job can be done my machines” .

Most recruiters might think that machines can never replace them or that you cannot “uberize” recruitment. However, examples from Jonny Campbell showed the rise of the machines is coming in the next few years in the form of “AI bots” capable of taking a job request, finding candidates and booking interviews. Equally the growth of sites like People Per Hour and Task Rabbit will significantly take market share from recruiters.

With the right approach – the future of recruitment is bright!

Here are my top five observations from the day:

1. Step Up

Greg started the day highlighting that for recruiters to survive they need to step up. The days of recruiters earning top dollar for finding candidates that the client can find themselves are over. In the future of recruitment you will only succeed if you can provide candidates that clients cannot find themselves.  Added value will come from not just having candidates but being able to get them to the interviews, turn up and perform. Today’s market is moving so fast every recruiter needs to be looking to learn more and improve their skills every day.

2. Candidate Experience

Dave Hazlehurst led the charge on encouraging recruiters to reflect on candidate experience. “How do your candidates feel” about working with you? As ever, he shared some practical tips on how to find the people you want to influence and understand what content you need to provide them to establish credibility and build trust. Greg’s quote “people only refer other people when they have a good experience” sums up what recruiters need to do to get access to candidates no one else has. The challenge I see is that most recruiters are too broad in their specialism or geographical focus to be interested in how candidates feel about their experience. I tend to find that the tighter the niche an agency works in, the better they are at caring whether candidates have a good experience when working with them.

3. In Real Life

Greg hit the nail on the head when he said “yesterday’s heroes” hide behind email. The future of recruitment is about blending an online presence with “in Real Life” relationships. In essence, getting back to basics and picking up the phone to build a solid relationship with a candidate to ensure that you give them what they want, in a way they want it, whilst still achieving what you need. Where my views did depart from the speakers was that Jonny felt that the phone / Skype was preferable to meeting people face to face. My gut feel is that “in real life” relationships are strongest when you work face to face.

4. Marketing In Sales

Recruitment marketing is the hot phrase across the industry at the moment. Every speaker shared practical approaches to building a company and individual marketing strategy. Email automation, creating quality content and focusing on adding value to your community were key messages. The objective being that at the moment of need you are the person that comes to mind. Importantly, from my perspective, these activities need to support traditional business development activities of meeting people face to face and having a value added call cycle to ensure you have a relationship where you have the trust of the client and have earned the right to influence the clients decision making.

5. The Future is Bright

The global talent shortage is not going to go away which means that there will be a healthy need for agencies for years to come. Matt Burney from Indeed.com gave some great stats on the challenges companies are facing in attracting the right staff. Interestingly most candidates now start looking at job boards and adverts 6 weeks after starting a new role! Greg provided insight that said that 50% of PSLs are failing to find specialist skill sets which is great news for those agencies that serve a specific niche. However the flip side to this is that if you recruit for the type of candidates clients can find themselves or are a generalist (industry, location or skill set) life is going to be harder.

In short Wendy Mcdougal and the Firefish team did a great job bringing together a quality collection of speakers, in a great venue and even delivered one of the hottest days year so far in Scotland. It was definitely worth the trip to Glasgow and I will be back! The future of recruitment is bright.