We live in an age where a simple innovation in technology alters paradigms, and has the power to revolutionise the way we look at things. Naturally, the corporate sector and the processes within it have not been immune to the effect of technological development, specially the increased connectivity over the last decade. In such a setting, it becomes critical to stay in tune with the updates and changes that happen in technology, for it has become detrimental to how we work. However, recruiters and people who scout for talent are witnessing a gap, in staying ahead of this curve, and a struggle in successfully integrating technology for efficiency is evident. Let us take a look at the equation between technology, innovation and talent acquisition:
From overcrowding and of data to its rampant unreliability, it is becoming increasingly difficult to actually collate and assess information for prospective applicants at one go. This primarily happens due to fragmentation of the tools and services and on offer, and more importantly because most of these tools and services are not designed in a user-friendly manner which results in creating a gap between what is expected result of the adoption of technology and the result it provides. For example, Applicant Tracking System (ATS) one of the most commonly-used technology in talent acquisition and recruitment, though increasingly used in India, is designed to control the process of application and build a database, and not actually simplify or automate the process for the recruiter or the enhance the candidate experience. In other words, a technological product is not being used to its potential to remove barriers, and is being used at sub-optimal pace, due to a variety of reasons. Additionally, there is reluctance to fully adopt such tools in an organisation, and when such a situation arises, the return is diminished greatly. Furthermore, customising of technology, according to the different geographical places, and building a community and engaging with them continuously is a challenge. It is equally important to understand the stand of the industry on the inclusion and integration of technology in the process, because once a need to overcome the challenges faced by recruiters with technology is realised, the pace of progress will automatically pick up. But presently, it doesn’t seem like a lucrative enough solution, and the returns are considered shaky at best, and therefore investment is sceptical. Furthermore, merely working on simplifying and integrating the present tools and products might not be the best way forward, because of them serve a unique purpose, and a centralised mechanism to regulate and control them will make the process extremely rigid.
How to Stay Ahead of the Curve?
It is important to understand that much like the swift nature of innovation; the meaning of staying ahead has changed rapidly as well. It doesn’t mean remaining defensive about possible roadblocks, but actually attacking the hindrances that help you achieve the end goal head-on. The best approach would be to begin with, and focus on, the problem statement the kind of solution you want to devise, a blanket or fragmented one. Moreover, the focus on the end goal would be built on the purpose for including technology in talent acquisition, and constantly tracking quality and timing of hiring in proportion of costs will help one learn from potential pit-holes. In India, the process of technological integration is in its nascent stage, and not very structured. For example, in the western countries, in addition to dedicated centralised teams that scan the best practices and further them, stringent systems are in place to evaluate technology, check its adoption, the RoI etc., which helps them adopt, use and evolve in a timely manner. Hence, the concept of learning from feedback is equally important, for the first step may not deliver results in accordance with expectations. Ideally, experimentation with technology should be done in a small part of the organisation, and learnings from the same must be amplified for the bigger policy shift, rather than enforcing a technological update in one go. Also, not giving up too soon, and not quitting the experiment, if immediate returns are not visible is vital.
Where Do You Begin?
If you are just starting to experiment with using technological innovation in talent and acquisition and recruiting, begin with the basic systems. Put an ATS in place, which clearly defines the purpose of solving problems of recruiters and applicants. Once the system is solid, progress to adding other functionalities like employee referral systems, internal job postings, social media, interviewing etc. Do have a clear purpose and priority in mind while designing or availing the tools or services, of whether it will serve as a database, or be primarily used for referral or simply increases the mobility of the process. What’s more, give the entire experiment a roadmap, with a timeline of at least two year or more, for you to be able to assess the return it gives. This will also help you further the system in a strategically manner, rather than it being ad-hoc and sporadic decisions, made according to the requirement of the time. Lastly, use technology judiciously, in line with the culture, capacity and needs of your organisation. A smaller organisation might do away with ATS and focus only on getting the best talent and not make the central processing a priority, but for a larger organisation, it is indispensable to have a central process management platform, which brings everything together.
The Mobile Connection:
Since a lot of applicants are readily available on mobile phone, it becomes important to facilitate an easy process through the device. But, it is equally important to understand whether this is a process-based problem to begin with. Since recruitment can essentially be broken down to a new connection between two individuals, mobile connectivity becomes critical. Hence, simplifying the process of application is essential, because there is no point of putting the applicants through the entire extra effort and time bandwidth, when the actual chances of them being selected are slim. Reaching out and connecting, on an effortless and easy medium, is essential to get the best talent. Some organisations depend on technology all through the process of an applicant finding about a job, applying, interviewing, and submitting documentation, for all of it is done online. Simply by offering the convenience and comfort, you can excite the best candidates out there. And in today’s age, optimizing pages for mobiles, reducing the clicks for applying for a job, integrating Facebook or LinkedIn profiles instead of uploading profiles are steps everyone should take. So the idea is to understand the language of the applicant and communicate with them in best possible manner.
By the virtue of its very nature, technology keeps evolving. Hence, it takes effort and resources to keep up with it, and ensure we use it wisely. The primary interaction of any candidate is the interview. Technology can really simplify and automate the process to easier work for both the stakeholders. Conscious effort should be made on designing recruitment capability for the organisation, with focus on connecting with the candidate. The use of technology is to simplify processes, and recruiters should delegate mundane activities of process coordination to technology. Once this technology is firmly established in the routine of talent acquisition, efforts to further and update it must be sustained. Furthermore, a holistic view that clearly spells out the goals and processes must be forged, with the Business, IT and HR all coming together to formulate it. Lastly, the need for recruiters and leaders to step beyond their traditional administrative role of recruitment, and understand how IT works in regard to talent acquisition is paramount, by looking at it as a business problem and not a technological problem.
(Based on the session at the TA Leadership League Annual Conference, 2015)