MS: We love research, reports and data at Smart Recruit Online, because in the recruitment industry there are so many nuances and variants in the way that we work, the processes that we follow and the objectives we each have, it is sometimes difficult to determine what is the best tried and tested method for doing something. What extensive data analysis does, is to highlight the trends and commonalities that can give us the edge in determining what strategy to deploy in order to achieve the most consistent results.
This may often just be the best starting point, rather than where we end up, but 9 times out of 10, using data and research brings an immediate improvement to the results and a better foundation from which to build our recruitment strategies.
I often find myself reading through research and reports that other organisations have done and then go off and perform some sort of research of our own to establish whether this can positively impact our own objectives.
This latest report from Linkedin is interesting, because it is not so much analysing statistical data, but is using the subjective and objective opinions of recruitment leaders to look into the future and to predict future trends, based on company historical data, corporate objectives and the personal opinions of over 4000 recruitment leaders across the globe.
I usually read the year ahead prediction articles posted at this time of year with a belief that much of what is being forecast is either a regurgitation of the last years predictions or guesswork, but a significant report of this type, from a credible source is worth evaluating.
Like many of these reports, it’s quite long, so I have picked out the most interesting bits to review and left out those that either I didn’t think were relevant to the UK recruitment industry or that didn’t really tell us too much.
I have lifted sections from the report along with the diagrams provided and then added my own comments, observations and opinions in italic in between.(My own comments usually start with MS:)
2017 Global Recruiting Trends report
A survey of more than 4000 Global talent leaders provides insights into:
• How recruiting teams are changing
• The most important benchmarks and metrics
• Where teams spend their budgets
• The impact of employer branding
• What recruiting will look like in 2020
This report is based on the survey responses of nearly 4,000 corporate talent acquisition leaders across 35 countries. All respondents are at the manager level or higher.
MS: This is interesting and kicks off with one of the most important elements in hiring strategy. Selecting from a diverse range of applicants is a challenge and requires the right tools and technology platform in order to do it effectively and efficiently. Many recruiters do not utilise the full range of channels available to them effectively enough to attract a diverse range of applicants. Budget constraints and short-sighted recruitment strategy that restricts the range of applicants to just one or two advertising channels or a handful of agency recruiters operating on a contingency basis severely impacts on the subsequent talent pool diversity.
An intelligent direct hiring strategy that includes internal referrals, a diverse range of online advertising channels and third party submissions offers a solid range of applicant sources, that will enrich the talent pool to choose from.
Assessing against soft skills not only makes the hiring and selection process more holistic but also ensures that there is a better balance that includes behavioural and cultural fit. However, recruiters need to introduce this earlier in the process, so that initial shortlists are drawn up after applying these screening processes and avoid ‘tight shortlisting’, purely on the basis of skills and experience at the start. Again, this is where your recruitment system should offer you the ability to easily deploy these assessments as part of a more comprehensive first phase of screening.
Technology plays a very strong role in this report, as without it most of these objectives will be very difficult to deliver. Innovative interviewing tools such as video profiling and behavioural assessments integrated into your recruiting platform are still growing in popularity. Candidates are becoming more accustomed to them and recruiters are getting better at deploying them, so expect these to become embedded in standard recruitment culture as the successful completion of these requests by candidates also increases.
Budgets go to traditional tactics, but branding tops the investment wish list
Having a glimpse into how other recruiting teams spend their budgets is always exciting and this is the first year we have this report. It turns out that because recruiting budgets are so tight, leaders tend to spend them rather conservatively. Over 50% of the spend for most companies goes to job ads and recruitment agencies. Around 17% of the budget is allocated to technology which allows the teams to create leverage and automate their workflows (especially important when headcount for recruiters is tight).
MS: These report figures are global figures and are likely to be different in the UK, but never the less, they give a fair reflection on how an annual recruitment budget might be broken down.
It would be really interesting to obtain some stats around the correlation between the investment made into recruitment technology and the impact that has on the subsequent success of a direct hiring strategy.
For example, I am reasonably confident that a company that has selected the right recruitment technology will subsequently generate better results from their online advertising. A simple switch from an apply by URL advertising campaign to an apply by CV in regards to the online method in which applicants are captured, can transform the results generated by online advertising and subsequently reduce the dependence on other means.
I find this very interesting that there is a perceived high/prohibitive cost to employer branding in relation to recruitment. After all, we are not talking about trying to establish a global corporate brand in the same way that marketing might interpret this. Your company brand is quite simply what your current and past employees say about you. If you don’t know, then ask them and if you don’t know how you can establish the employer brand that you want, ask your staff how you can collectively achieve that. Then collaborate together and work towards it.
When we talk about ‘branding’ in regards to the recruitment process, I would emphasise that the only people that you have any chance of impacting with your brand, are those that subsequently apply to your vacancy.
Providing those people with a positive experience of engaging with your brand is imperative, as most applicants are assessing you, based upon their own applicant journey. These are the only people involved in your recruitment process that might potentially be influenced or impacted by your brand.
MS: I really would have loved to ask these people what they meant by new technology that they would have liked if only they had the budget. Expensive applicant tracking systems are not all they make out, although a centralised HR platform is imperative for larger complex, multi-site, high headcount type of organisations. However, recruitment technology is so affordable these days with many free recruiting platform options or low-cost recruitment management systems that start as low as £99 per month for up to 5 users, I struggle to understand this, because these systems can pay for themselves several times over on the very first campaign that you run on them.
The best Online Recruitment Management Systems come fully integrated with the best in class sourcing, selection, screening and interviewing tools, so there is obviously a disconnect here between talent leaders and what is out there. I know how frustrated that we ourselves get when we contact organisations that we know would massively benefit from the use of our technology, tools and services, but we are batted off quickly with a ridiculous range of objections. For example: ‘We have a PSL in place’. Really ? and what does that have to do with your choice of recruitment technology or strategy? Or ‘We already have an ATS/HR/CRM system in place’. OK so I get that people bought into these systems initially thinking that the recruitment module would support their talent attraction strategy, but there is so much evidence to suggest that the vast majority of these systems simply don’t do the job that they were told it would do and are in fact actually counter-productive to direct hiring strategy in most cases. So why wouldn’t those recruitment decision-makers, that know their ATS/CRM isn’t working want to explore what the latest tech can do for them? One can only assume that they do not want to encounter any difficult questions by the business about their previous choice of recruitment tech that they already funded.
I sometimes think that the people responsible for making the tech buying decisions are actually in denial about the inadequate systems and processes that they are using. An independent survey last year indicated that more than 80% of recruiters using a technology platform of some description were dissatisfied with it, stating that they either did not work, were not fit for purpose or had serious adoption issues.
Most recruiting teams won’t grow this year
“Despite the importance of recruiting, most leaders foresee that their team size won’t increase. This means that as the hiring volume rises, recruiters need to get creative and automate their workflow. The recruiting teams that are growing are focusing mostly on finding full life cycle recruiters and employer branding specialists, indicating the increasing importance of the company’s image”.
MS: My observation here is that there will be an overall increase in recruitment activity over the next 12 months, but overall there will not be an increase in budget or resources to deliver it.
This will of course lead to more companies and recruitment teams looking at ways to improve efficiency and to leverage more from their existing and agreed recruitment budgets and resources.
This means that identifying and acquiring better technological solutions, forming more effective recruitment partnerships, improving engagement tactics and conversion strategies are going to be essential.
Quality of hire and time to hire are still the true north metrics
When it comes to measuring performance, recruiters report on metrics that have a lasting impact on the business. That is why different aspects of quality of hire (length of stay, hiring manager satisfaction) dominate the list. It’s worth noting that larger companies selected time to hire as their top metric, while businesses with under 200 employees overwhelmingly picked the length of time a new hire stays.
MS: Improving quality of hire will only come from deploying better talent attraction and selection strategies and improvements to time frame metrics will only ever happen if more efficient processes are effectively deployed.
Time to offer metric seems to be a far more sensible way of establishing your recruiting efficiency than time to hire, that has to allow for varied notice periods that are out of the recruiter’s control.
MS: It’s great that most recruitment leaders understand the importance of retention and use this as the key metric in determining an effective recruitment strategy. Making better hiring decisions needs to be driven by the business, ensuring that this happens at the coal face by measuring this and rewarding the behaviours required to execute it.
I would love to see how the time to offer statistics looks against these figures, but I would hazard a guess that the average notice period is between 2-3 weeks. We understand that the average time to hire metric is 33 days, although this statistic was derived from a limited amount of data, that we have access to. However, it is probably not that far off. What this report didn’t look into was the impact that the highest priority roles have on recruiting statistics. Do organisations allocate higher budgets, more resources or adapt processes for higher priority or harder to fill positions, which is what we would expect. Having access to plenty of our own data on the source of applicants, especially for successful roles, I would conclude that these global figures, do not accurately reflect UK stats, where employee referrals are likely to account for less than 20% of all successful hires in the UK. Data that we have generated from more than 15,000 successfully completed campaigns still shows online advertising channels (publications and job boards) being responsible for over 65% of all hires in the UK (where the role was not filled by an internal candidate).
Differentiating from the competition is a top concern for recruiters
“When your team is strapped for resources and dealing with intense competition, focus on initiatives that can bring you scale. One of the most effective ways to do that and differentiate from your competitors is to work on your employer brand. Craft messaging that is the right blend between what your target candidates are looking for and the unique value proposition of your company”.
MS: Differentiating yourself during the recruitment process is not so much about being creative. So many recruitment campaigns are badly thought out, badly executed, poorly managed and give the applicant a less than favourable experience of the company brand, that in order to differentiate, you just need to deliver the basics well.
In most cases, better written advertising copy, better communications with each applicant, better execution and delivering of screening tasks to applicants, more efficient delivery of the recruitment process, well executed and more professional interviews will all contribute towards differentiating yourself in a positive way.
LinkedIn Trends Report Summary
• Talent acquisition has a prominent seat at the executive table.
• Recruiters will be even busier this year and are focusing on quality of hire.
• Budgets go to traditional tactics, but branding tops investment wish list.
• Effective employer brand messaging focuses on culture and career growth. Diversity, screening automation, and data are key future trends.
• Talent leaders feel confident that their department is helping define the future of their company.
• Over 83% of them say talent is the number one priority in their organization.
• 56% of leaders say that their team’s hiring volume will increase and in order to measure success they are focusing on how long a new hire stays at the company, hiring manager satisfaction, and time to fill.
• 70% of recruiting budgets are spent on job boards, recruiting tools, and staffing agencies, talent leaders identify employer branding as the #1 area where they wish they could invest more.
• Over 80% of leaders acknowledge that employer branding has a significant impact on their ability to hire talent.
• Candidates reveal that companies can pique their interest if they talk about career growth, company culture, and challenges.
• Automating the screening and hiring process in order to eliminate human bias and time limitations will shape the future of recruiting.
MS: I often start presentations by listing the 10 most common objectives that recruiters tell me that they have when considering new or a change in recruitment technology.
I have been using the same list of objectives for nearly 5 years and it is interesting to see that, aside from the topic of eliminating human bias, that this summary so closely relates to that very same list.
So maybe we can deduce from this report that not that much has changed and that the same challenges and objectives exist this year as they have in previous years?
Without doubt emphasis moves and changes and new items come onto the agenda, but as far as an insight into the future and an idea of what recruitment will look like in 2020, I’m not that sure we get much clarity from these findings, interesting as they are.
It will be interesting to see how the industry adapts to the growing interest in eliminating bias from the recruitment process and I note that another impending change to the industry with the looming introduction of data compliance via GDPR isn’t even on the radar in this report. With such a strong commitment by government to address the cyber security and data management related issues through this new legislation that will potentially deliver significant fines (that will be a % of turnover) to all parties concerned, I am quite sure that 2017 will be remembered not so fondly by recruitment leaders tasked with implementing the required changes around this.
About the author
Mark Stephens has worked within the recruitment sector for nearly 20 years both in-house and agency side and more recently within the technology environment. Mark is a serial entrepreneur and is the founder of Smart Recruit Online, the Recruitment Alliance and The HR & Recruitment Resource Library. Mark has dedicated his time since 2007 researching the online recruitment sector from a user, technology, and candidate perspective and is regularly published and quoted by leading industry publications for his research and personal opinions.
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