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Inside Recruitment Marketing Podcast: Is Automation Recruitment's Major Trend for 2020?

SmartDreamers Team
9 min. read

Automation has become a hot topic this year, but will it stay hot in 2020? In this episode, our guest, Tom Haak, director of the HR Trend Institute, will speak about just that!


Put your headphones on for episode #2 of the Inside Recruitment Marketing podcast!



Listen on SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts or Anchor.


How would you describe the state and the global HR community right now? What are their challenges?

It's an interesting community to wander around. Many things are happening, and there's some excitement that people know there are a lot of new things. But it's excitement connected to a kind of puzzlement. What do we do with all the new technology, the new solutions, the transformations we are in. So, excited, puzzled and intrigued.

And what's happening with you at the HR Trend Institute. How's your year going so far?

Quite good, I must say, but my work is kind of threefold I study, I write and I speak. And I do that in an international forum so I'm travelling around and I'm meeting lots of interesting people and providers. So, so far so good.


Let's talk a little more about technology, specifically automation and how people are using it in the recruitment field, especially for recruitment marketing strategies. Have you seen that as sort of an emerging trend for 2020?

No, I think in a sense it's an old trend. Because recruitment is always at the forefront of new developments in HR, I think recruitment gets a lot of attention and recruitment is an area that many people understand. Recruitment issues are most of the time urgent, we need people now and if you can help us to find people quicker, faster etc. people are interested in that.


So what kinds of recruitment activities are HR professionals already automating so they can focus on other things.

The question is, "What is automation?". I prefer to speak about using technology to do your job better. So it's no saying we automate and then we don't have to do our job. It's how can you do your job better because there's a lot of room for improvement in the whole chain of recruitment. In every aspect of the recruitment process, there is improvement possible by using technology.


For example, profiling. It often starts with profiling. What are we looking for? And there people analytics can help a lot. What are the real distinguishing characteristics of the top-performing people in a certain profession or a certain area? If you look at job profiles, still they are often based on a kind of a good feel, some type of experience, but not data-driven.


Sourcing. Where are the candidates? How can we find the candidate? That's typically an area where a lot of technology and automation is going on. That's an area where technology can help a lot to speed up the process and find candidates that fit whatever profile you may have. So, I won't go into all elements of the recruitment chain, but in every aspect, there's improvement possible by clever use of technology.


We often see that especially with more established companies there's a resistance to adopting new technologies. Do you see this as a risk?

Of course, there are risks related to technology. There is resistance to technology but that's often because people don't understand it, they don't know exactly how it's working, sometimes it's counterintuitive so they have to learn to use the new technology.


At the same time, we have to be very careful when introducing new technologies and using new technologies. There are famous examples of using artificial intelligence in selecting candidates, if you don't do that clever and if you don't do that in a combination of technology and common sense it can go in the wrong direction.


To reduce the risks, recruitment professionals and all HR professionals must be interested in the technology that they want to dig into and try to understand the technology and try to see what is possible and what is not possible so, that combination of men, women and technology can do a better job. The risks are there but there are also huge risks in the traditional processes. Bigger risks.


That's a good point. You want to talk about that for a minute?

The risk that you're hired the wrong people. If you look at many of the traditional recruitment and selection processes they rely heavily on humans and the interview as the major selection instrument of recruitment, while we know that interviews are generally not so good for selecting people. So the risk is that you hire lookalikes. The risk is that you base your judgment on your own unconscious biases and those risk can be very big.


Let's go back to the topic of trends for a minute. What are some of the biggest trends in recruitment you've seen this year?

You could say most of the trends are kind of long term trends. One longer-term trend is that there is a shift from only looking at the list of requirements for a candidate for a certain job. More and more organizations are looking at a combination of people with a certain skill set and people with a certain personality. They are looking at the cultural fit. More personality testing and more cultural fit testing in the recruitment process and looking for people with a good set of future proof type of skills. So that's one trend that's going on and it will go on.


Instead of hiring people for fixed jobs, saying we are looking for someone who fits exactly in a certain box, more and more organizations are hiring candidates for more fluid roles, broader profiles, people who can do different roles in the organization where they are hired because we don't know exactly what the future will look like.


We don't know exactly what type of skills we need in the future, so we need people who can come along with the organization for a long time.


So, more personality and culture fit testing, from fixed jobs to fluid roles and what is mainstream now, but there's still a lot of work to do, is more and more focus on the candidate experience.


Do we offer candidates in the recruitment process a real, full experience? And we know that in most organizations, there is a lot of room for improvement in that sense.


One older trend I've seen appearing and that is here to stay is the blending of employee branding and preselection. More and more you see that when people apply for a job, for example in retail, they are first introduced to the company online, they get some information about the organization, why are we good, what are we doing, what is our employee value proposition and then it's moving into pre-selection tests.


So diversity and inclusion are also pretty important topics right now for HR managers. Do you think that automation can help with that?

Absolutely. It has to do with several things. I already mentioned profiling. What are we looking for? And if organizations are becoming more creative in profiling, instead of saying we are looking for candidates who fit exactly in these boxes and they are moving towards looking for candidates who have skill A or skill B and then later on when they are in the organization we can build teams with people with the skills we need.


If they are doing it, that creates a lot more room for people with a more diverse background. We're not talking about necessarily gender diversity but all kinds of diversity. Also, people who are very strong in certain skills but don't have other skills. So diversity will also help if we introduce more unbiased selection processes. I already mentioned that humans tend to be biased, often unconscious. If you introduce more objective data-driven selection processes, your selection process can become more unbiased and that's a really big advantage for more diverse candidates.


An example, in a multinational where they revamped their traineeship hiring, in the past it was a recruiter just looking at the CV and favouring certain universities because they thought those were the best universities. In the new process they use certain tools, only looking at the skillset of people, the personality of people and comparing that to the profiles they have prepared in a very meticulous way. As a result, the pool of trainees of this multinational has become a lot more diverse than the pool of the usual suspects they had so far.


So, diversity and inclusion will be helped a lot by using technology and clever automation and recruiting.


So let's take a minute and imagine something. Let's think about that perfect kind of recruitment industry. What would that look like? Could you give me like maybe three characteristics?

If by the recruitment industry we mean the recruitment professionals or the people working in recruitment both on the organization side and on the supplier side I could mention a couple of things.


One important element is personalization. That will become more and more important. Are you willing and able to take the individual capabilities, wishes, references of candidates into account? And not many organizations are doing that today.


It's still too much one size fits all. So, in the ideal world the recruitment professionals would be a lot more focused on personalization. They will still be a lot faster than today. The speed has increased but still many recruitment processes take far too much time and by using technology, clever technology you can speed that a lot.


Three, I would say, a lot more focus on positive experiences. What type of experience do we give our candidates? And it's not only about speed but it's also about the interactions, it's about gamification and also making sure that the recruitment process in itself is a positive experience. So a lot more experience focus, a lot more candidates focus. Putting the candidates on number one. That's often not happening, but in the ideal world, this will be the case.


So and for the final part of our interview, do you have any general advice to recruiters or HR managers who are thinking about adopting automation? How should they go about doing this?

Sometimes there's too much focus on the tools. Sometimes people say we should use all the tools and I don't think that's necessary. Don't focus too much on the tools, focus on the aspects that you want to improve and think about how you can do that and how you can use technology to do that.


Secondly, I would say stay in control. It's about people, men, women and technology together who can do a better job. But if you want to stay in control and if you want to continue to add value, then you should be very much interested in technology. You should be interested in data analysis and you should be interested in the business you're working in. If you have the combination of that, then you can be a super recruiter and add value in the organizations where you work.


If you’re interested in accelerating your talent acquisition efforts, but not sure where to get started, join the SmartDreamers Academy.

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