Human Resources

Industry leader talks tech-enabled recruitment

“It would never occur to me to apply for a job via smartphone!” said Liam Butler, VP of Sales for SumTotal, with some feeling at a recent digital skills roundtable.

“Really?!?” responded a surprised young journalist, with equal feeling.

Online recruitment is becoming more and more commonplace. This does have implications for age and career level but as digitisation becomes more ingrained into most businesses this is only set to continue moving into areas like AR, VR and wearable tech.

We catch-up with Steve Carter who has over 20 years’ experience in recruitment – through roles as director at Morgan McKinley, UK MD for Robert Half and director of Asian operations at Adecco – to learn his views.

Can you provide an overview of the range of new technology being used in recruitment at present?

The majority of the recruitment sector thinks of new technology as CRM-style databases, Applicant Tracking Systems and social media platforms liked LinkedIn. There is a vast array of established technology that improved the world for recruiters but did it really change anything? After all, LinkedIn is just an organised database of people that were always there – all they did was make it easier for people to find and be found.

This technology isn’t new and in fact it’s soon to be superceded by a wave of platforms being developed across the globe, primarily in Silicon Valley where recruitment is seen as a sector badly in need on tech intervention.

These cloud-based services will allow clients and candidates a ‘self serve’ direct matching kiosk style platform that can incorporate video, psychometric profiling, and availability planners to name a but a few and have full interface with back office applications creating a true ‘end-to-end’ solution at very low cost per user – something recruitment technology has always striven to achieve.

The initial players in this market, such as ODesk [now Upwork] and Elance, are now large corporations whilst the beginnings of the new wave are already in operation via ‘marketplace solutions’ likes of TaskRabbit and Hired, which operate on an ‘on-demand/off site basis’.

The market place solutions operate on a rating system (à la Tripadvisor) and workers are able to bid for work or in fact accept work at a fixed price/rate. 

Market place solutions are being invested in by large recruitment organisations as well as financial institutions and private investors, which enables them to grow quickly and efficiently on a global scale.

What are the most interesting recent examples you’ve seen of technology for recruitment?

For any technology to be successful it has to ‘solve a problem’ and there are some great examples of that.

-       Onfido - Pre Employment Screening and Background Checking. It has really solved the ever increasing and expensive issue for agencies and employers and enables in-house cost reduction

-       Launchpad - One of a number of video interviewing and selection platforms but has a much greater degree of user friendliness and synergy with the recruitment process

-       Watu - A contracting focused application that has a live booking function, job-posting capability, personal information space for contractors, and enables onboarding

-       TempBuddy - With ‘selfie check in’ it effectively eliminates the need for timesheets and provides full payroll integration, geo tracking so you know where workers are and a matching light capability – all via a biometric controlled function on the users smartphone

-       Intern Avenue - A super intelligent platform that matches graduates and interns with appropriate employers and vice versa. It takes the pain out of the process and really gives SME's a fighting chance in a space dominated by big employers

-       Cube19 - Automates all the things managers hate to do in regard to activity, KPI’s and performance. Might spell the end of a recruitment company’s addition to whiteboards!

-       Fuse Universal - A social learning platform that allows staff and managers to upload and produce their own content, which makes it more relevant and impactful on a peer-to-peer basis

-       Arctic Shores – ‘Gamified’ psychometric appraisal

Are you seeing different tech-enabled recruitment trends in Asia and Europe?

Yes, but simply because the majority of platforms are initially developed in English. They all have global capacity so it’s only a matter of time.

Are there variances by industry?

Each and every sector of recruitment has a number of specialist platforms in development but all basically follow the fundamental premise of recruitment - quality matching.

How do you think all this is likely to change short, medium and long-term?

Initial scepticism will be replaced by the reality that there is genuine change confronting the sector and recruiters need to embrace it - it was the same with LinkedIn - in a few short years it has transformed from enemy into ‘enabler’.

It’s hard to see the long run too clearly as development is going at a rapid rate and everyday there are innovations reaching the market. What is inevitable is there will be major changes to the way the sector works!

What do you think will surprise people about tech-enabled recruitment of the future?

I think that the future of ‘lower end’ perm for agencies has to be questioned as the process is very simple and employers will look for faster, cheaper ways to do it and many of the cloud based solutions will support that.

More senior perm recruitment where the emphasis on skill, fit, leadership etc. is more critical will continue but quality and deep specialisation will be the driver. 

There are some downsides to all this, such as pigeon holing people based on data from their brainwaves or other sensors, what is your view of all this?

It depends on where an employer is at philosophically about the use of technology and other tools to assist in selection.

Large organisations have higher tolerances for a range of skills in their workforce therefore they may be prepared to tolerate some failures in the process to achieve more efficiency and cost saving.

Smaller organisations may struggle to embrace all the technology but if it solves a problem then it’s worth considering.


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