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What’s shaping the future of recruitment?

David Haines, global sales director at Xref


Technology. If ever you wanted proof that tech is the biggest game-changer to the way we do business in the HR and recruitment sector, take a look at the sheer scale of this year’s HR Tech World in Amsterdam. HR Tech World has grown from a 400 delegate ‘gathering’ to a 5000-strong ‘summit’ of delegates from six continents in just five years.


In October, it hosted a ‘who’s who’ of CEOs and HR leaders of the world’s largest and fastest growing companies and, of course, numerous tech solution providers showcased their software.


On HR Tech’s website, it talks about a [HR] profession “still heaving with bureaucrats and administrators, politics and legacy systems”. Within the UK, there is still truth in that statement and, for that reason, the advancement of tech in the world of HR and recruitment will bring positive and long overdue disruption.


There are myriad innovations specialising in HR technology and they’re all geared to in some way to ease our biggest pain points and make the end-to-end recruitment process far more efficient and effective. We only have to look at the tech that’s available now to see what the near future holds. 


Gathering meaningful references, quickly, is one such pain point. In its traditional form, reference checking can be clunky, slow, expensive and carries risk of privacy, discrimination and fraud. 


Xref was launched to offer a smart solution to candidate referencing by automating the process.


Key to its success are the data-driven candidate insights it generates to allow recruiters to make smart, confident hiring decisions. As a cloud-based tool, references can be completed anywhere, anytime and on any device. The result is an average increase of 60% more candidate data when compared to traditional phone-based referencing.  


Xref’s technology also incorporates a ‘Sentiment Engine’, an advanced AI-fueled tool that offers an insight into how the future of HR might look. The ‘Sentiment Engine’ uses an algorithm to recognize positive, neutral and negative sentiment, and interprets the referee’s ‘tone of voice’ for the employer before sending them a concise report for their consideration.


Recruiters therefore avoid the need to sift through lengthy reference responses and the AI-fueled tool is already delivering 92% to 98% accuracy, which ensures a greater chance of an accurate reading every time – more than could ever be achieved by humans.


Innovative AI features like the ‘Sentiment Engine’ have helped Xref achieve a more than 90% completion rate on references - a vast improvement on traditional methods.


While Xref sits at the very end of the hiring sequence, there are other tech providers to handle the earlier stages.


Bullhorn, for example, is a cloud-based solution which automatically tracks the recruitment cycle to offer recruiters a complete and unbiased insight into a candidate. It does this by viewing all their interactions with the recruiter, be it emails, text or phone and gleaning key information. 


It also has an artificial intelligence capability called Bullhorn Bots, which automates frequently repeated tasks using clicks, not code. As these bots learn from your input and behavioral patterns, they will suggest specific automations based on machine learning algorithms. The result is what all AI-fueled tools aim to deliver to organisations – more streamlined operations. 


Sonru is already a leader in this respect, facilitating automated video interviewing where the interviewer sets the questions in advance and the candidate reads and records their answers in an automated interview environment that replicates a Skype interview.


In addition to specialist HR technology, the omnipresence of more ‘generic’ technology will continue to infiltrate our day to day working practices. Google Drive, smartphone technology, social media and video interviews, for example, can save both time and money for all parties, reducing the need for travel while enabling the recruiter to accurately identify the top candidates.


Technology aside, what other key sector trends are we seeing that will continue to shape our industry?


Flexibility is one. Tech brings efficiency and nimbleness to the recruitment process, but workforce flexibility continues to build and it’s seemingly suiting both employer and employee.


It’s all part of a shift towards a more decentralised workforce structure. Businesses are increasingly outsourcing projects and recruiting collective networks – it brings an agility to the way they do business and, not least, a (assumingly) welcome reduction to fixed departmental overheads and payroll.  


It should be a win-win, too. Take a service business like an integrated marketing agency. With more of a collective, outsourced workforce, that agency’s clients can be confident that the strategies being pitched to them relate to their growth objectives and not to the salaries and overheads of a specific department within their agency, which obviously need to be covered from one month to the next.


This so-called gig-economy where companies are ‘renting’ rather than hiring is commanding plenty of column inches right now – not necessarily for positive reasons, but that’s because this trend is still finding its feet. It’s here to stay and grow, even at senior level.


There’s also the argument that, with this flexible approach, companies will have the pick of the best talent as it arrives. To some extent, that’s true, but those companies still need to present themselves as an attractive brand to work for and remain with, even in our current uncertain economic climate. To do that, employers need to continually create new engagement strategies to help attract and retain top talent. 


It’s important employers don’t lose focus and create surface-deep benefits packages though.


Take millennials. A lot is said about millennials and their changing needs and expectations when it comes to job benefits and ways of working. Many believe the rise of the ‘work and roam’ culture stems from them. Yes, flexible working has become increasingly practical and desirable, but it’s only a part of the picture.


In reality the benefits that appeal to millennials aren’t a world away from the motivations of previous generations. A study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (ERBI) found that the top benefits favoured by millennials (in order of preference) are: training and development, flexible hours and work/life balance, competitive compensation and comprehensive health care. Like older generations, they want to be challenged, supported and remunerated fairly and that will remain so. 


Ultimately, there are outside influences like Brexit which will shape the future of the recruitment sector. The impact of technology, new working processes and our ability to attract the world’s best talent, will come from within and depend on what extent and how quickly the industry embraces both the opportunity and need for change.   


Picture courtesy of Pixabay

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