Like many other administrative functions within a company, technology is making recruiting and hiring staff easier. Placing an advert in a newspaper then waiting for applications to pile up on the desk of the human resources manager who has to painstakingly go through each one to see whether or not they are suitable candidates is thankfully a thing of the past.
In the last decade or so there have been a number of developments shaping the way companies recruit new staff. While these are constantly improving, experts highlight some of the biggest game changers as social media, videoconferencing and automation. Phil Lotter, owner and CEO of human resources software company, Piilo Software, said: “Technology has become an enabler for both the recruiter and job seeker.”
There have been numerous warnings to professionals about being careful of what they put on the Internet via their social media accounts, as companies could use these for background checks. But recruiters have found other uses for social media, particularly LinkedIn. Lotter points out that a recent study in the US found that 93 percent of recruiters use LinkedIn to identify candidates. “Recruiters can scan potential candidates using LinkedIn, based on skills and job experience. [It] provides recruiters with a data- base of candidates that can be engaged for jobs across the spectrum,” he said.
South Africa-based Sage VIP, says HR Director, Anja van Beek, uses LinkedIn mainly for the recruitment of specialist positions and to advertise management positions, especially outside of the country’s borders where the company has yet to establish relationships with recruitment agencies. “One can connect with other HR managers in Nigeria for the period the job is advertised and it also helps to connect with universities if you are looking for graduates with specific skills,” she said. Van Beek adds that to use LinkedIn to its best capacity it is necessary to pay the premium rate to be able to advertise jobs on the LinkedIn advertising portal. “Using LinkedIn to headhunt does yield results although you are not guaranteed to find the perfect person,” she said.
Overall, Lotter says social media has made recruitment more immediate and proactive. “Recruiters can now view potential candidates for employment before they look for opportunities,” he added.
According to Van Beek, Facebook is not as effective for finding candidates as people tend to publish personal rather than professional information. She adds, however, that companies can create their own pages where they can advertise avail- able positions.
“A huge amount of effort is required to go through all submitted CVs and select the most appropriate candidates,” said Lotter. He explains that recruitment automation allows recruiters to allocate non-negotiable requirements for jobs and to only view CVs that match the criteria. “This is a great tool for volume-based recruitment for low entry jobs. It is, how- ever, advisable to use a combination of recruitment automation and CV reviews for skilled and executive level job. You might want to set the minimum criteria but then do manual reviews,” he said.
With an automated system rejecting applications that do not “tick all the boxes”, there is a risk that someone who perhaps is a strong candidate but does not fit the requirements exactly is rejected. But Lotter says for low-skilled jobs the risk of this happening is low. “The recruiter will receive a high number of CVs, which they want to work through as quickly as possible,” he said.
Lotter advises that for high-skilled jobs, the automation should only include minimum requirements and then a manual selection should follow. “High-skilled jobs need to make provision for substitutions. In other words, if someone doesn’t have a degree but seven years’ experience in a certain area, the requirement is met. Technology is an enabler of the recruitment process, and recruiters need to take care not to lose good candidates through inflexible criteria,” he said.
Videoconferencing has been around a while and has slowly been replacing face- to-face meetings as companies attempt to cut down on travel spend. Some companies are using the technology as a quicker, more convenient way to first meet prospective employees. Lotter suggests using videoconferencing in an initial interview. “This is a great tool to use and it reduces the recruitment process cost significantly, i.e. travel costs. It also reduces the recruitment cycle, as interviews can happen within a shorter period of time due to the absence of travel and limitations to office hours,” he said, adding that employers still need to meet face-to-face with top candidates before making a final decision.
A survey done in the UK by recruitment consultancy, OfficeTeam UK, found that 41 percent of HR directors increased their use of video conferencing to conduct interviews. One of the reasons for this was the improvement in quality video conferencing tools. In Africa, slower connection speeds may result in the adoption of this trend on a lesser scale. Another key driver in increased usage of the technology in recruitment was the tendency to look for out-of-town skilled candidates or even ex- tend the search internationally.
But video is not only being used to interview candidates. Companies on the cutting edge are using it to attract talent, too. According to recruitment expert, John Sullivan, video job descriptions are “the next big thing”. He explains that a video job description is a short video clip where the hiring manager and team members describe the exciting aspects of a particular job to convince “top-quality but reluctant prospects to apply”.
Sullivan does, however, say that video job descriptions should be in addition to rather than replace standard text job descriptions. According to him, the advantages of video job descriptions are threefold. Firstly, they are an opportunity to provide the job seeker with an authentic human view of the job from the team’s perspective that makes it easy for the prospect to “see, hear and feel their excitement for the job”. Secondly, they show candidates that your firm is willing to use innovative approaches that include technology, and thirdly, they provide companies with an opportunity to re-ex- amine “dull 100-percent-text job descriptions that most organisations currently use and to improve them so that they now provide a competitive advantage over the less-compelling job descriptions of the same job at competitor firms”.
According to Lotter, everybody is talking about big data and how it influences companies to make better business decisions. “This is true for recruitment as well. With more internal employee data available through automation, data analytics can help with the identification of high potential candidates and placement into internal positions. Data analytics can also be used for external public data to help with recruitment and job search,” he said. Lotter added that new technologies significantly increase the engagement of potential employees, as the recruiter can now engage candidates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, anywhere in the world through their personal devices, such as smartphones. “Candidates can view career options seven days a week without the need to be in an office,” he added. “Other key areas include the automation of competency assessments that can now be done remotely as input into the recruitment process. New user interfaces al- low potential candidates to publish their professional information such as career paths and skills to social media sites from a diverse range of data sources.”
By Chana Boucher