The nature of tech talent is rapidly changing, with an increasing overlap of roles and responsibilities between technology and the business*. Modern-day tech roles are moving away from operational focus centred on risk reduction and cost efficiencies, to a more strategic focus involving value creation and business growth. New skills that are synonymous with tech roles are innovation, business acumen, growth mindset, customer experience, collaboration, agility, predictive insights, and so on. This has created a need to reimagine the entire technology talent strategy. The demand for tech talent has always been high, with companies facing a real talent crunch amidst the War for Tech Talent. But with the pandemic in-sight, renewed challenges to attract, engage and retain tech talent have emerged.
The Post-Covid Hiring Landscape
During Covid, hiring as we knew it stopped, but the industry saw high demand for digital transformation skills since every company strove to create an online presence in the virtual working environment. This, combined with large investments in start-ups added to a renewed demand for talent amounting to 3X-4X the pre-pandemic numbers, especially for specific digital transformation skills such as full-stack development, DevOps, data science, machine learning, cloud technologies, cyber security etc. . As the supply-demand dynamics shifted in favour of talent, we saw the rise of the “great resignation” and a candidate-driven talent market. Naturally, the problem of offer declines became more rampant. “We saw offer declines in the past too, post globalisation and during the dot.com bubble. But the post-pandemic offer decline rates have magnified significantly”, shares Sudev Das, former Director, Global Talent Acquisition, Unisys.
Offer decline rates are averaging at 55% in large volume hiring space and over 20% in the product and captive units of large corporations, currently in India.
Another important trend to note is that the interview-to-offer-to-join ratio has been impacted significantly, as candidates sit with at least 2-3 offers. “Even if people do not want to look for alternatives or have multiple job offers, there is a lot of peer pressure and pressure from family to look for more or better options”, mentions Savita Hortikar, Head of Talent acquisition at Thoughtworks India. Satish Rajaratnam, SVP, HR, Mphasis resonates this thought, “You do an interview on a Saturday and by the time you make an offer on Monday, the candidate would have already attended another interview and their bargaining power goes up significantly”.
This candidate choice, combined with the fact that hiring became completely ‘virtual” added to organizational challenges. The key to unlocking value from the right talent pool now derived from having the right technological tools and interfaces to allow for virtual sourcing, screening, assessments, selection and onboarding i.e. a completely virtual recruitment pipeline. Hence, the need for building tech capabilities in the hiring space.
The Need for Tech-Capabilities in Hiring
At the onset of the pandemic, many companies were not prepared for 100% virtual hiring. As companies embarked upon the virtual hiring bandwagon, they realized that hiring was now taking a lot of time, resulting in candidates dropping out of the process. Moreover, virtual hiring comes with its own constraints, first and foremost being the loss of ‘human touch’. The ongoing connection and relationship between recruiter and talent had become even more important in virtual hiring, given that it was a candidate’s market. In fact, the only way to deal with this is to make the ‘candidate experience’ the centrepiece of recruiting.
“Today’s candidates live in the age of Swiggy and Zomato and expect the same kind of fast response when applying for jobs”
Candidate expectations have evolved greatly in a candidate-led market, hence recruiters need to focus exclusively on candidate engagement if they wish to stem offer declines and hire right. TA professionals need to look at candidates the way salespersons look at customers, investing in candidate relationships, as are customer relationships. However, the low recruiter-to-candidate ratio means that recruiters have no time to form that connection with candidates. This is where technology can come to the rescue, and Hyreo’s post-offer solution is one way of providing ‘timely support’ for candidates. “We have tried to automate over 60% of the non-strategic recruiter tasks so that they can actually focus on building great candidate relationships”, shares Hyreo. Here is how:
- Automation: Hyreo chatbot provides level zero (L0) support and tickets are auto-created for level one & level two (L1&L2) queries. Feedback collection, follow-ups, scheduling and document collection for candidates gets automated.
- Communication: Pushing titbits on company culture, job role, career growth opportunities, leadership talks etc helps orient and engage candidates on what to expect and enthuse them to build a connection with the company.
- Connect: Continuous channels to stay connected via email, SMS and WhatsApp ensure open two-way conversations.
- Passive conversations: Mechanisms for re-targeting and staying connected with candidates who declined offers or applied for jobs in the past help yield significant outcomes. For example, Hyreo ran a candidate outreach campaign for a large IT outsourcing firm and 12% of candidates who declined in the last 45 days were willing to reconsider the offer immediately and 9% said they will reconsider in the next three months.
- Predictive Analytics: “There is a need for predictive analytics tools similar to what we see in marketing - that makes predictions based on candidate behaviour”, says Sudev Das, former director, global talent acquisition, Unisys. Hyreo has built an algorithm that predicts a candidate’s propensity to join based on the candidate’s engagement behaviours. This data helps the recruiter plan for back-fill or additional hires so that business impact can be minimised.
Backed by intelligent insights and transactional tasks being taken care of by a tool, recruiters can now focus on more value-adding work and make timely interventions, to actually create the right impact on potential talent.
Offer declines is not a new phenomenon, but it is surely here to stay for at least the next few quarters. TA leaders must be prepared and proactively work towards building the right blend of tech and touch. Upskilling TA teams, acquiring new age hiring technologies and transforming the hiring model itself will help companies stay ahead of the competition. The ‘great resignation’ is paving the way for the ‘great HR transformation’ and this is the right time for HR leaders to lead the boardroom discussions with forward-looking talent acquisition and retention strategies.