Technology and the need for a human touch dominate agenda at The Recruitment Conference 2017
Chatbots and candidate experience apps will become hugely significant mainstream recruitment technologies in 2018 – but the human touch will arguably become more important than ever.
That was the verdict of some of the industry’s most celebrated names, who gathered at The Recruitment Conference 2017 in London this week to ponder the future of the function amid a technological and cultural revolution.
Outlining some of the fast-emerging trends that are reshaping recruitment, Hung Lee, influential blogger and CEO of Workshape.io, described a time of “disruptive change” in which some of the world’s largest technology business had turned their attention to recruitment. The advent of Google Hire – a cloud-based applicant tracking system – and the Google for Jobs search engine has coincided with the integration of LinkedIn with the Outlook email platform and Microsoft’s new Resume Assistant, an attempt to standardise CV data and job descriptions, said Lee.
But, he added, that has opened the door to some decidedly traditional tools: “Career pages will return to relevance – because that’s what Google wants. Google for Jobs is designed for jobseekers first; they’re going to try and prioritise how jobs are described.” Better career pages, said Lee, were a way to cut through bad data, avoid duplication and prevent republishing of job information by aggregators: “Recruiters have to give their career pages a lot more attention. They are one of the most neglected parts of recruiting.”
The use of chatbots, said Lee, would be “ubiquitous” over the year ahead. “We believed a chatbot would replace a human recruiter by having a fully fledged conversation with a candidate. It won’t – human beings don’t respond well to first contact from someone who’s not a human. But it does replace an FAQ.” That might mean answering questions about where a role is based, what the pay structure looks like or what the visa requirements are.
A chatbot recruitment assistant, said Lee, might deal with people through the later stages of the recruitment process, while ‘customer candidate experience apps’ would help guide potential hires through interview and assessment stages and keep them engaged by introducing them to people in the business.
In this new world, according to the conference speakers, traditional recruitment roles would be replaced by brand evangelists, audience builders and community managers. But it would be important, too, to consider some profound questions about talent attraction. Steve Ward of CloudNine Recruitment said ‘unsexy’ brands needed to work harder to stand out, but could learn to use online tools to their advantage.
“Very few people love your brand because of your jobs,” said Ward. “It’s much more about what you represent as an organisation, or the uniqueness of your people or products. Too often, all we do is talk to them about jobs. That’s not enough to persuade people to join you.”
Ward outlined several strategies that could help less glamorous businesses punch above their weight in recruitment, including the use of content written by senior managers to engage very niche audiences. One blog he commissioned from a senior leader at a B2B marketing firm was viewed 170 times, but led to four people joining because it was highly tailored and influential in its industry: “It reached the right people. They would have paid about £70,000 for those hires if they’d gone through the usual route.”
Dave Hazlehurst, director of client services at Ph.Creative, urged the audience to use stories to grab candidates’ attention. Getting hiring managers enthused and engaged in interviews and other interactions could help land the hires you want, he said.
“Brand isn’t logos and pictures – it’s experiences and how you make people feel,” said Hazlehurst. “The more technology we have, the more digital we are, the more human we need to be. The more we hide behind data, the harder that becomes.”