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An evolved approach to a changing world of recruitment

By Nigel Heap, Regional Managing Director, Hays

When I started my career as a recruiter we placed job advertisements in newspapers and waited for applications to arrive in the post. It’s hard to imagine this in today’s fast-paced world! The industry has changed enormously over the course of my career, with new technology and ways of working presenting new opportunities and challenges on a regular basis.

When we speak with our clients they are more often than not grappling with technological transformation in their own industries. Across all the professions we recruit for technology is rapidly changing the skills employers need to attract as a result of the changes happening to business. It is also changing the way in which they need to go about attracting these skills, and has been for some time.

Looking back at the late 1990s we first saw the rise of job boards, and the ability to apply for jobs much more quickly online. The arrival of the internet aggregators in the next decade streamlined the process for jobseekers, making it easier to search and apply for a huge variety of vacancies in one place. Shortly thereafter, the rise of professional social media networks, dominated by LinkedIn, was the next major development and led to speculation by some that candidates would soon cut out recruiters and go direct to the employer.

There’s no denying that each of these technological steps forward has changed the recruitment industry, but not in the way some of the more pessimistic commentators envisioned. As recruiters we were often challenged as to whether we still had a role to play in this 'new world'. In fact, our role is more important than ever.

For employers the downside of these new technologies is the potential to be inundated with job applications, yet time after time our clients tell us they are still struggling to find the skills they need. What’s more the job boards, aggregators and social media sites are still, predominantly, targeting a pool of active jobseekers. If you are searching for a candidate with a niche technical skill set in a very specific location, for example, this can be limiting.

So what does this mean for employers, struggling to find the skills they need? Technology is moving fast, and with it the expectations of candidates. This is something we will be looking at this in much more detail in our upcoming What Workers Want report, which you can register your interest in now.

The role of an expert recruiter in helping employers find the talent they need in this fast-changing environment, by engaging with candidates and, more recently, ensuring compliance, has never been more important.

New technology allows us to do some incredibly interesting things. For example by examining patterns of behaviour on social media profiles such as LinkedIn we can gauge how open to new opportunities a professional might be. Certainly not something we would have envisaged back in the days of postal applications! At Hays we have also developed strategic data partnerships and software tools to enhance our ability to find relevant candidates, where and when they are available.

Job applications remain an important piece of the puzzle, of course, but technology available today means that with access to right data science analytics and digital tools, combined with strong relationships, recruiters can now source from a much wider, more engaged, pool, opening up access to previously unknown candidates.

Ultimately, though, the foundation of recruitment is people. This hasn’t changed. Our recruiters get to know and understand the aspirations of the individuals we work with, creating a picture of their skills and career motivations to be able to offer the best possible advice. The data helps point us in the right direction, but the relationship and trust formed over time with the recruiter is key.

The methods for posting a job advert and waiting for applications are no longer, alone, enough to compete for talent. The world is changing and to stay ahead in the war for talent requires the management of huge volumes of data, complex recruiting tools and sophisticated content publishing platforms, coupled with the skills, expertise and relationships of a recruiter. Through this combination we are better able to identify the best talent for employers from what has become an increasingly large, complex, pool of potential candidates.

You can read more about the evolution of recruitment in our Recruitment Remodelled report.

About this author

Nigel is Regional Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and EMEA, and Chairman of Asia Pacific. He joined Hays UK in 1988 as a trainee consultant. By 1997, he was Managing Director of Hays Australia, and consequently expanded operations to New Zealand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. In 2006, he was appointed Managing Director of Asia Pacific. He became UK & Ireland Managing Director and Chairman of the Asia Pacific business in 2012. In 2018 Nigel was appointed Regional Managing Director for Hays UK & Ireland and EMEA, and retains his position as Chairman of Asia Pacific.

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