Recruiting Enablement Blog



3 key questions to help with becoming an integrated and evidence-led function

Charles Hipps October 22, 2020

Companies are facing new pressures in talent acquisition that impact both processes and technology. talent acquisition and HR leaders can no longer afford to rely on a reactive or traditional approach to recruitment. They must look to the future and rely on data to meet the needs of the business and the changing expectations of candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers. 

Oleeo partnered with the Recruitment Events Co this week to hear more from industry practitioners in a series of workshops as part of the Resourcing Leaders Virtual Summit. View the slides from the sessions here. These revolved around the challenger statement: “Success in recruiting in 2021 requires TA teams to leverage data and automation to drive efficiencies, effectiveness and be D&I conscious - how can we achieve this?”

In order to dig deeper, we posed 3 questions for leaders to answer in roundtables. Here are some highlights of what the conversations uncovered:

How do we shift from fighting fires to delivering efficiencies of scale?

  • The leaders agreed that efficiencies are key to getting the best talent
  • The pandemic has meant leaders have had to upskill their teams - in particular around application management & direct sourcing
  • Having an outcome-focused recruiting process would be more rewarding -  consistent messaging is critical, particularly where there is pressure to forecast on stakeholder ROIs
  • Candidate experience is important but all too often it is poor
  • Feedback in a meaningful way is paramount, especially in these uncertain times and especially for new entrants to the job market. Auto reply alone is insufficient
  • Employers must remember that the candidate is king - having a form of structure rather than an unstructured process is crucial especially in businesses where jobseekers are also customers
  • Keep job postings up to date - meet expectations of current circumstances and future demands - flexible working and contract lengths are more important now
  • With high volumes, it is important to be selective where you post job ads - don't post everywhere and drown with applications as a result. Fight the temptation to report on a source vs performance basis
  • Picking your most effective sources only tends to be most efficient - usually job boards specific to industry - especially for niche & specialist roles which seem to have reduced & are face a notable talent scarcity challenge
  • It is important to aim for efficiency & effectiveness hand in hand - one can be done without the other but both together are paramount to success
  • Be agile and adapt your focus - there are some great ideologies out there which can be followed to help your business adapt and learn from
  • The key phrase for today is prioritise - do that well and you will survive - especially with more applications and leaner TA teams - workloads are not reduced so prioritisation is essential
  • Get commitments on delivery from leaders and ensure that they are based on what you can feasibly do - this will help earn consensus all round
  • Focus on your EVP & make sure you know how to deliver it. Overcome the traditional budget wars between attraction or engagement and try to do both in meaningful ways
  • Make sure your virtual set-up is as robust as possible: Video interviews in particular have shown the benefits in covid times
  • Redeployment & internal mobility is also pivotal - big efficiency opportunities here and an imperative to refocus and keep existing staff assured. Show understanding of options around opportunities such as  re-training and adapting, mentoring, internal development and chances for staff to learn transferable skills
  • Be aware of trends - many thought that turnover and churn are now less problematic but attrition is still a dilemma
  • Have a playbook to help with pre-screening to manage coping with the high volumes & dealing with rejections, including LinkedIn training for both headhunting and nurturing
  • Use automation to deliver on sustainability and eco-friendly policies - this is becoming more important to applicants and automation can cut manual processes that are unsustainable
  • Make it faster to identify talent and when you spot them, communicate with them fast and offer opportunities such as virtual coffee chats
  • Ensure hiring managers are fully clued up and do kick-off meetings, lots of planning - always aim to be identified as a leading employer and ensure that all stakeholders show an appreciation of the uncertainties in the current landscape
  • Test & adapt at every stage - ask yourself if you are achieving the measures you ought to be
  • Ensure you are human, personable & sympathetic - recognise the time and commitment it takes to apply for roles - don't anger potential customers with a bad process by seeming arrogant. Convey information appropriately.
  • Onboarding is a big win here while offices face mounting limitations, make the virtual experience as pleasant as possible so the fact that they are not coming into an office is less a dilemma. 

How can we make more use of data to drive smarter recruitment in 2021?

  • Data-driven is the way forward - good data helps drive great decisions, it provides evidence to help back budget requests and act as a foresight tool
  • It is wise to consider a multi-year approach, plan upfront and have clarity for your vision
  • Time to hire is a good place to start or identify another key current issue - candidate experience, interview management, assessment centre performance are examples of
  • Predictive analytics can help as long as there is a good balance between machine learning and human - ensure you are not knocking out promising candidates
  • Make sure your process isn't too robotic and ensure that it always assists candidates, not hinder them - sensitivity is key
  • GDPR & Brexit can constrain how much you can do - be aware but not afraid
  • Accuracy of data is also key - get this right before looking at tech offerings - make sure the CV is not just a scannable document - remembering that without the screening you would have scanned it yourself manually
  • Measure, measure, measure! Then drill down to get accuracy - question & challenge until you are happy - identifying & fixing things as you spot them.
  • Reporting is often poor - needs simplifying. Currently it is hard to track application funnels & pipelines especially with huge numbers for all roles posted - proving conversion needs to be easier
  • Being data-driven requires progressive thinking - blind recruiting is a good starting point, taking away protected characteristics to judge on suitability alone so stereotypes do not prevail. It can also inform HR analysis e.g. fairness of pay
  • Harnessing data from CRM & Talent Banks is also powerful in helping to find candidates fast at a time when positions need replacing quickly - also internal pools
  • It was acknowledged that it is harder for firms with a lack of tools collecting data to build a good picture and forge baselines - parsing seems to be a preferred starting point for shortlisting but there are plenty of other data points you could start with too
  • If possible, having an analytical team to help with data capture and analysis is useful
  • The key to success is mapping out the whole workflow and analysing at each stage.
  • Smart data use will help identify trends to connect a people or HR team to make cases with the leadership team 
  • Get business alignment & find the middle ground between cost and hiring - be proactive instead of reactive, enable teams but know it takes time & is a journey - know what you need & what is achievable vs unachievable
  • Have a hiring plan and focus on quality in recruitment – finding a balance between a fully automated process and human interactions
  • Acknowledge the challenge of using AI when the roles aren't all the same - there are elements that AI can't capture, such as personality and behaviour so it must be treated as a part of the talent acquisition process, not the replacement.

How can we ensure D&I is at the heart of our TA strategy for 2021?

  • D&I is more critical now than ever but tangible actions are low in spite of this - it needs to become more evident in company ethos and go further than the basics
  • There needs to be more of a push to make reporting statics a broader talking point - this can be a difficult business conversation - many prefer to rely just on bias training or to commission research
  • Team education is vital to drive productivity and ultimately profit & loss including knowing how to react to data. Stakeholder buy-in is important - many mentioned bringing in coaching or using internal networks dedicated to D&I to drive that internal conversation
  • The challenge is to get hiring managers aligned with their D&I objectives -even if diversity is about choosing applicants from a different gender / background / age etc the imperative is to first choose the applicant with the right mindset and behaviour – this is a more important criterion; i.e a candidate with the right mindset will do their best and push until the end. 
  • Make the process as unbiased as possible -  tools to debias job adverts and a blind CVs - and get board involvement so that everyone is talking about the same thing at the same time and being sensitive to any disparities
  • Branding and social media are very important including demonstrating representation in existing talent pools
  • Language in job descriptions can really be a starting point for this - that needs to be extended into social mobility and the class divide too, educating on socio-economic trends as much as possible
  • Employers looking to diversify reach have also started working with other organisations dedicated to social mobility in order to help encourage specific D&I audiences to feel comfortable applying to join the organisation. 
  • It was acknowledged that data can tell the story and businesses can use it for outreach purposes so that wider pools are involved throughout talent acquisition journeys to align to overall business goals
  • Graduates tend to be a good place to start with D&I as it helps to inspire the next generations. The efforts made here need to be applied for older jobseekers and boardroom representation too to really amplify inclusion.
  • It is important to ensure diverse panels are in place to help eradicate historical bias - having a diverse team can help alleviate leadership pressures to be more diverse and open up applications to wider socio-economic classes so that jobs are offered on skill and not just background or privilege
  • It was felt that to make this easier, analytics tools need to be as self-explanatory as possible or it can be a struggle. Recruiting leaders felt they needed better presented data to support future decisions and reduce the effort it can take to gather it at a granular level
  • There also needs to be a greater sense of accountability where D&I is placed at the core of processes - realistically aligned with local demographics & regulations, and in a place where there are reasonable targets or standards published, that are achievable based on trends with a regular audit process and a dedicated D&I team helping to monitor this - some firms feel that pressure for equal gender diversity across the globe is a tough ask that will take years to fulfil for example
  • Keep it simple - authenticity is key - an employer stance should reflect the culture of the company. Intent is there, but many still need to work on the execution
  • Recruitment should start with Inclusion first and foremost. It's about driving different initiatives, involving others. Then it all needs to become holistic and drive the entire business, not just the people but also customer-facing operations. Make a conscious effort to take what is happening and apply it in every part of your operation to avoid misalignment recognising that disclosure is a bigger challenge the more experienced the hire.

Key takeaways

The session ended with 3 key takeaways - hopefully these will help you build your talent acquisition strategy for 2021 and beyond:

  1. Consider not just the Who (Diversity), but also the How (Inclusion) and fine-tune your D&I business case with leaders - even more critical in a market downturn
  2. Evaluate all your processes - are you being as efficient as you can? Are your recruiters spending too much time on admin & not enough on nurturing?
  3. Are you harnessing the value of data to drive your recruitment strategies and adapting based on what the evidence shows? 
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