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Recruitment - at a tipping point?

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In the latest CIPD resourcing and talent planning survey, 47% of organisations said the economy has had a negative impact on resourcing budgets for this year. Here, recruiters offer their perspectives on the changing market.

What resourcing challenges are employers facing?

Nicola Grimshaw, CEO, Oakleaf Partnership: The biggest challenge is the risk-averse nature of the market. Employers are still cautious when hiring, which often leads to a prolonged recruitment process. During that time, the business case may alter. This will lead to a change in requirement, with the role being cancelled or filled internally.

James Aston, director, BIE Group: For many, it’s establishing where capability gaps are now and where they will be in the future. It pays to have a well thought out resourcing strategy covering the many areas that candidates can be sourced from. Also, an understanding of what makes a good candidate experience helps with recruiting the best talent.

Has direct sourcing impacted the UK market?

Michael Oliver, associate director, Advantage Professional: More candidates are approaching companies directly, either via their website or social media channels, so internal recruitment teams must be able to support this and respond effectively. It has resulted in a rise in the demand for talent acquisition professionals, since the lack of a robust recruitment infrastructure can trigger negative commentary from candidates unhappy with poor responses and/or management.

In-house recruiters are also greatly diversifying their recruitment methodologies to attract the widest pool of talent. Direct sourcing is a valuable tool for organisations recruiting at junior to mid level, or in bulk, with a strong internal recruitment process to ensure proper candidate management and timely responses. For senior level or significant investment hires, organisations are still more likely to use an external specialist.

Debbie Smith, director, G Squared HR: Direct sourcing has affected consultancies as the number of roles has declined where clients are trying to reduce costs. Yet clients have been inundated with applications – these take time to go through and may not match their requirements. Also, if candidates selected for interview are not fully briefed and prepared, they may not perform as they would via a consultant.

From a candidate’s perspective, it has been frustrating as they are often not kept up to date with their application and on many occasions never get any feedback. Overall, we understand the need to reduce costs but we now feel that clients are beginning to realise how important our relationships are and what value we add.

Has the way we recruit changed forever?

Kim MacNamara, business director, Ashley Kate HR: Recruitment will become even more competitive for both internal and external recruiters. Larger companies will keep a closer eye on cost savings, so external suppliers will have to offer much more demonstrable value. The role of the recruiter will change as the spotlight falls on the desire to connect the whole process, from sourcing candidates to training and development, up to and beyond when they leave.

Advances in technology including video interviewing and Smart apps will open up the recruitment world even more. Networks including crowdsourcing will become the norm as recruiters work more effectively with their connections to fill job roles and we will see more use of gamification-type attraction strategies to secure the best talent.

Andy Montgomery, associate partner, Eton Bridge Partners: All industries evolve and recruitment is no different. It will continue to do so and we should always be striving to do things better, engage with technology and our audience, and deliver the best possible service to clients and candidates.

Debbie Gray, director, Totum: In recent years many law firms have altered their approach to recruitment. It’s often either given to a junior member of the HR team to manage or is increasingly process-orientated with the introduction of online portals and/or on-site managed service solutions which are very KPI driven.

While internally these are seen as ‘cost effective’ solutions, from an external perspective they are having a detrimental effect. In these cases either the ‘human’ touch is removed from the process and candidates have to endure automated responses, or an inexperienced individual is making decisions on who should be met – often without having the expertise and understanding of the business and what is required. Firms that apply either of these approaches often miss out on great candidates because they make the wrong decisions, so candidates choose to go to firms where they have a much more positive, hands-on experience.

What does this mean for the future? Well, of course firms need to make choices that reduce costs, but it’s imperative that these are not made to the detriment of how they attract the best talent. Ultimately, these individuals are what will make them successful, or not, in the long term. The way we recruit has changed, but only as new methods and technologies have been added to the mix. The old methods still exist and still work. What we are finding is that, increasingly, each role requires a different approach and a combination of traditional and new recruitment methods.  

Has technology/social media helped or hindered?

Jonathan Wiles, managing director, Michael Page Human Resources: Technology and social media have helped recruitment from both a direct hiring and agency perspective. Specialist job boards and social networking sites have changed the landscape of candidate sourcing by providing alternatives to traditional forms of advertising. These tools are more flexible, immediate and cost effective. For medium to large organisations, end-to-end ecommerce-based recruitment systems have significantly assisted in the effective management of hiring processes, especially where there are large volumes.

For these systems to achieve maximum effect, they must be implemented and embraced internally by all key stakeholders, otherwise they can hinder processes and make a negative impression on candidates.  

Mary Appleton

By Mary Appleton


Mary is Changeboard's editor in chief.



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