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Why Innovation in Hiring Has Become the Need of the Hour The skills required in the workplace are changing, and the classic hiring methods do not go far enough to target the new age workforce

By Robbie Dagger

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Without having made any long-term career choices, I fell into recruitment at the start of my working life. I learnt the market, I enjoyed it, and I was pretty good at it. During this time (2004 to 2013) I went onto leading the Recruitment team for the UK's largest retailer. However, this was also a time when the only major shake-up of the recruitment sector had been LinkedIn, and the introduction of Application Tracking Systems replacing disjointed Excel reports. Four years on, and with a broader career in HR Business Partnering, I stepped back into the recruitment space to build a major Technology campaign. This was my comfort zone and a place I thought I could offer real value. However, things have moved on. The game has changed at a pace I would not have predicted. These are my observations.

Changing Dynamics of Recruitment

The skills required in the workplace are changing, and the classic hiring methods do not go far enough to target the new age workforce. Recruitment is no longer the role of the lone consultant, interspersed with hiring manager involvement. It is a business-wide activity. Social channels have already given people and organisations insight, connections and choices that were previously hard to come by. It's changed how businesses and individuals interact with each other. Now add the inescapable pair of data and analytics into the hiring process, and Recruitment went and got really interesting. Recruitment needs to be treated like any other product being developed, and the hiring manager needs to be right in the epicentre of it.

The Perfect Campaign

There isn't a perfect formula in this world of short supply and high demand. Even the basics can be hard to master. In starting to build a campaign, I appreciated the innovative methods multiple organisations have used to spark interest and attract the employees of rivals. Pavement graffiti, 'interview' escape rooms and million dollar competitions where no longer isolated to Silicon Valley. Behind the buzz of the campaign, the message has to be right. Colleague and customer experience matters more than ever. What is said about working or interacting with an organisation is heard louder than any marketing campaign. This is not in any way a dismissal of recruitment advertising, but you cannot advertise for 'rock star' employees, if the real experience is more likened to the life of a roadie. Colleagues and customers need to be your advocates. They need to talk regularly about what you do, and what they do. It's a long game - it needs to be real, and unlikely to be controlled. The recruitment advertising should not be determined by the recruiter, but considered with the same organisation focus as the master marketing strategy.

Reliance on Technology

Hiring has never been easy of course (even if your colleagues and customers are in love with you). The task of creating the job description that will simultaneously attract the perfect candidate and discount the remaining wannabes has eluded most. However, it's here in the aspects of the process that can be controlled, that technology begins to lend a hand. Today, organisations are able to use machine learning to analyse a job description against a target audience and consider its likely success rate. Moreover, to compare and reach out to potential candidates (based on digital footprint as opposed to only an experience profile), requesting them to apply for the position. The laborious task of cold calling is not desirable for either the recruiter (who has more to offer than sales skills), nor the targeted candidate. Relevant jobs for relevant candidates is beneficial to both sides. If machine learning leads to the end of the cold call, it does not mean the end of human interaction at the application stage. The expectation of the recruiter to be able to explore the motivations of the candidate and explain some of the more technical elements of the role is heightened in a war for talent.

The use of machine learning is more than just jobs and skills matching. This is also a story of opportunity. Never before has there been such awareness of the biases that exist in both the content and the channels used to advertise positions. Tools are now available to employers who are looking for help to spot the unconscious bias in their approach, and reach out to a more diverse crowd than they have traditionally targeted.

Engaging Your Target Audience

Reaching and engaging your target audience, is only part of the hiring process. Making a decision, and then establishing whether you have made the right one is equally challenging. Here again, data tools and workforce models can expand recruiting metrics to longer-term metrics, helping to measure tenure, performance, retention and support workforce management. Through these tools, organisations can engage in the iterative process of Recruitment as a Product - learning and developing the end-to-end candidate to colleague experience. These tools are also the friends of the recruiter: supporting simplification and efficiency of the process; as well as providing the data from which the value of a successful hire can be established.

This is an exciting time to be working in recruitment. It is a time for organisations and individual recruiters to pause and re-imagine their approach. The tools of change are here right now. Disregard them, and businesses risk being slow and narrow in their search for talent.

Robbie Dagger

Director - People, Tesco Bengaluru

Robbie Dagger is responsible for the People function at Tesco Bengaluru that covers Talent, Organisation Design, Leadership & Development, Policy, Reward, Recruitment, Global Mobility and Operations. He leads the People plans supporting the business, building the employer brand at Tesco and enhancing colleague capabilities.

Robbie joined Tesco in 2011 and has served in various capacities including business partnering our Technology and Finance teams. He has also led the Commercial Recruitment operation in the UK. With over 14years of business experience, Robbie loves a challenge and is passionate about leading change initiatives and driving results through skilful engagement.

Prior to Tesco, Robbie has held various key positions in UK organisations such as Retail Human Resources plc and Linden Consulting. Robbie holds a BA degree from Lancaster University in Politics & International Relations and a CIPD Post-Graduate Diploma in Human Resource Management from Middlesex University.


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