Recruitment International World Leaders in Recruitment Conference 2014
The event was attended by leading industry professionals, keen to share best practice and network with thought-leaders from all over the world. It is a fascinating event that few industries would be so comfortable at: exposing the strengths, weaknesses and challenges of the industry in open debate.
The event opened with Annemarie Muntz from Randstad providing an overview of the position of the recruitment industry today and in the future. Important topics highlighted included youth unemployment and that flexibility in the workplace. These themes threaded throughout the day with thoughts on graduate schemes and the use of technology to support working practices.
Technology is more important than ever for recruiters and was one of the main themes for the day. However, whereas in years past the focus was on tighter security around technology and staff procedures to shackle workers and provide a feeling of control to agency management the message today is firmly on technology as an enabler and the importance of trust. One presentation provided practical advice on evaluating technology, emphasising the importance of standard tools and technology that could be rapidly deployed and easily supported. The analogy of the non-manual reading generation who just pick up a device and work it out illustrated the need for businesses to stop thinking of technology as an unwelcome and unwieldy necessity.
Panel discussion revealed possibly a more relaxed attitude to contact data security. With candidate contact details readily available online, several panellists questioned the effectiveness of stringent policies and covenants, instead opting for sensible policies, backed up by good relationships with staff. This theme of openness, transparency of data benefiting the agency and building great agency – candidate relationships was extended by Richard Wright from Acre. Describing the benefits of Acre’s innovative “Acre Bench” where contractor profiles are openly shown, caused some alarm amongst the audience, more used to a traditional, anonymous approach to candidate details. Acre’s approach addresses the risks of such openness by rewarding loyalty through tangible candidate benefits (such as pay on contractor invoice, not the infamous “pay on pay”) whilst providing Acre with great web content, pushing the site to the top of all rankings.
A constant theme throughout the day was that of growth organic and through acquisition. Challenges for organics growth centred staff attraction and retention, with graduate schemes becoming increasingly more important. Again, technology was cited as a key component to success, with the next generation of recruiters expecting intuitive, joined up systems, apps and mobile.
Giving an overview of the development of Matchtech Group from its humble beginnings 30 years ago into the organisation it is today, CEO Adrian Gunn’s presentation reminded us all how much technology has changed our lives. 30 years ago the consultants’ tools were heavy desk phones, rolodexes and the Yellow Pages. Pouring over job adverts in newspapers leading to many an ink-stained shirt-sleeve.
The day ended with an informal networking session. Technology may be changing the industry’s operational processes but first and foremost, recruitment is and always will be a people business.