In recent years, the HR community has witnessed an astonishing boom in data-driven solutions with businesses aiming to save time and add value when it comes to recruitment.
This widespread pivot toward more efficient, tech and data-led recruitment strategies was further compounded by the rise of remote working amidst COVID-19. Almost overnight, HR tech was no longer an investment to get around to; since the spring of 2020, it has become a lifeline for ensuring organizations have access to the talent they need to survive and thrive.
These challenges and innovations in recruitment represent a massive opportunity to make meaningful strides in recruitment processes, according to Christy Pambianchi, executive vice president and chief human resource officer at Verizon. “Every crisis offers the chance to transform and grow,” Pambianchi says. “And while COVID-19 served as a catalyst, this shift was a long time coming.”
Experts across the US and the UK agree: it’s time to up the ante when it comes to the talent acquisition process, and the future of recruitment relies on a deeply strategic, data-driven approach that prioritises meaningful connection with the most promising candidates.
Here are some key steps for making the shift to data-driven recruitment in a way that not only creates value for HR teams and candidates alike, but when done right, can benefit the success of your business across the board.
Automate HR admin
Since the onset of COVID-19 and the mass transition to remote working, automation technology has emerged as one of the single most important tools in the HR space.
For recruiters, a data-driven strategy means they are longer bogged down sifting through hundreds, if not thousands of resumes. Instead, ATS platforms like Newton and RecruiterBox shortlist and screen leading candidates through a predetermined series of questions.
“Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have driven value through efficiency, immediacy, and informed decision-making,” says Steve Knox, vice-president of global talent acquisition at Ceridian — the human capital management solutions firm that recently acquired top ATS platform Ideal.
Knox cites innovations in automated scheduling as an absolute game-changer for her own team: “Gone are the days of recruiters struggling to find times within 9-to-5; automation has eased the burden on HR teams and applicants to schedule a time that works best for all parties.”
Meanwhile, Niamh Mayoh, director of HR at the British business tech company Logicalis, credits the profiling tool ‘Predictive Index’ for helping the company find the right people and decreasing staff turnover. By measuring data around candidates’ behavioural drivers and cognitive ability, PI allows Mayoh’s team to focus on connecting with the top candidates.
Empowering HR Teams
A good automation strategy helps funnel the right data to the right place, allowing HR professionals to do more of what matters.
Take Reddit for example. Adjustments in response to COVID-19 prompted the platform’s leaders to bolster HR teams with more time and resources. And an increased focus on candidate experience led to higher-quality and more enthusiastic hires.
As the company adopted a remote working model, leadership took a step back and considered how to best evolve their overall workplace approach for the benefit of their business and employees. “This has included thinking more clearly about how we approach what matters most for candidates during the interview process,” explains Reddit’s head of global recruitment Adelia Curtis Duarte.
According to Duarte, Reddit’s HR team now puts a “heavier emphasis on human connection and how to bring that into remote interactions. We’ve noticed that these high-touch and low-pressure experiences have resulted in stronger offer acceptances with candidates who opt-in”.
Data collected in the early phases, and through these high-touch, low-pressure experiences also led Reddit to uncover an important trend that has helped them fill roles with a wider range of high-quality candidates: geographic flexibility.
Last year, in part due to data collected about where candidates wanted to live, Reddit announced employees now have the flexibility to explore where they want to work moving forward — in the office, remotely, or a combination of the two. “As a result of our updated approach to Reddit’s remote workforce, we’ve been able to attract top talent by not requiring people to relocate,” says Duarte.
At the same time that Reddit made this shift, Verizon, too, was leveraging data to rethink their talent pool based on location. When the company conducted a survey of its employees, results revealed that only 25% of remote employees desired to return to the office full-time.
Verizon CHRO Pambianchi says this kind of data will inform the company’s recruitment strategy going forward: “There are significant benefits to operating in a more distributed model where you can access a larger pool of talent.” Pambianchi believes that the findings of the past year have led many employers to realize that “a distributed workforce is not only possible, it offers tremendous promise and value in attracting talent and building a more inclusive experience for employees.”
Elevating the human element
Stories like Duarte’s and Pambianchi’s illustrate that the smartest HR teams are focusing on integrating their tech platforms and data strategies with the emotional intelligence that only a team of human experts can provide. As Neil Purcell, founder of UK-based RPO solutions firm TalentWorks, says: “Automating the entire process causes more harm than good, and it can severely impact your hiring as well as your employer brand. Instead, it’s about collaboration and working with the technology to enhance the candidate experience.”
This has never been more apparent than when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion in recruitment. AI can be both a help and a hindrance: it can screen the widest range of applicants quickly, but it is also prone to bias. Norma Gillespie, the CEO of RPO firm Resource Solutions put it like this: “Bias is a massive challenge with data. Any tech which makes recommendations or provides insights based on historic data has the potential to perpetuate bias.”
To combat bias, Gillespie and others have systems of checks and balances. Ceridian’s Ideal platform includes a DEI intelligence system. Resource Solutions has anti-bias mechanisms and ethical reviews in place.
TalentWorks’ Purcell believes that diversity challenges faced by recruiters can be solved through combining the best of both worlds: harnessing data without sidelining human expertise. “Ultimately,” he says, “you still need people to screen candidates to ensure you’re looking for those who don’t fit the typical mould, are beyond your existing network, and can bring differing viewpoints to your organisation.”
Data-driven recruitment processes for long term value
The most effective data-driven hiring strategies extend far beyond the moment a candidate becomes an employee.
According to Naimh Mayoh of Logicalis, “The data from current and previous employees is just as important, as this data provides a means to make better people-related decisions, build a deeper understanding of how employees are feeling, and enhance performance.” And as businesses put an increasing emphasis on the importance of meeting stakeholder needs for long-term success, it’s imperative for organizations to recognize the throughline from satisfied candidates today to influential employee ambassadors in the future.
In other words, data-driven recruitment is only one cog in a much larger, data-driven employee experience strategy overall, so it is essential that recruitment tech is integrated into the wider HR ecosystem.
In Mayoh’s mind, when businesses invest in data-driven recruitment solutions, they’re ultimately investing in the business’s bottom line. Designing a data-driven strategy that leverages the best HR tech has to offer enables teams to “expand their reporting capabilities, [and allows] management to better correlate employee performance with business metrics and adjust processes to meet strategic goals.” Essentially, Mayoh argues, “through upgrading their HR tech, businesses will strengthen their operations by producing better, more useful data.”
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