Innovation and disruption in the modern recruitment industry

By Ross Coverdale

We discussed in our previous post how stagnant job adverts are in the recruitment industry, and while this is true, we can’t ignore how much innovation is happening in the recruitment world.

There’s a lot of stuff happening in recruitment technology, from talent pool-building CRM systems and applicant tracking, to emerging and potentially disruptive sites, and clever multimedia campaign platforms. It’s not all about the tech, though it does of course play a big part.

We’ve hand-picked a few examples from the current recruitment world to showcase those doing interesting and innovative things to challenge the status quo. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, so if you have any you’d like to share, pop us a note in the comments below!

Client-branded recruitment campaigns

When you look at the vast majority of job advertising, the market is saturated with typical copy-based ads to attract applications. These will be familiar to most of us in this day and age – hundreds of thousands of ads are posted in the UK alone each year, and while they’re not particularly advanced, they are the most popular form of recruitment adverts today.

These can be posted by hiring companies themselves, or by recruitment agencies looking to fill vacancies for their clients. What you’ll tend to find with agency ads is that the clients themselves aren’t mentioned. While this can be a bugbear for some people, the reason for this is usually down to agencies not wanting their competitors to know necessarily who is hiring, and reducing the risk of those competitors calling their clients to pitch for their business.

On the other hand, agencies often do promote the hiring client by name, or even with a branded recruitment campaign.

Applications for branded campaigns tend to receive on average three to five times the number of responses, and this is for a few key reasons:

  • The ambiguity of who is hiring is lifted, eliminating doubt from applicants’ minds
  • Companies are able to promote their values, work environment and benefits to staff (to name a few) that make up their unique employer value proposition
  • The campaign can utilise the client’s wider marketing activity and messages, which provides a more rounded picture of the opportunity

These types of campaigns require much more of a creative input compared with traditional job ads, and this can be facilitated by the recruiters or a third-party creative agency, depending on the scope of the project and what the client wants to achieve. Creatives can go from anything from visuals such as logos and banners, to photographs of the staff or the office, video and audio content, and (where there is the budget to do so) bespoke interactive websites that work across different devices.

These all play a part in demonstrating what the company can offer successful candidates, and promote their brand in a cohesive way.

Interviewing practices

The internet is full of examples of different interview techniques, from using video calls to have an initial face-to-face interview when the candidate isn’t nearby (this is something we do at Head), to Google grilling candidates with challenging brain teasers designed to put their personalities and quick thinking to the test (does anyone really know how many golf balls can fit inside a school bus?)

Interesting practices for sure, but do these really enhance the candidate experience?

When Virgin Money set out to find a creative genius to head up its Innovation team, the company developed ‘the world’s more creative job interview’ where candidates first had to send in a ‘video selfie’ to explain their suitability for the role, and those who passed the first stage were then taken through a series of five rooms, each with its own challenge to test their creative, innovative, entrepreneurial, inspiring and commercial abilities. This is a great example of a company that has set new bars with their in-branch lounges and not-for-profit site Virgin Money Giving, breaking new ground to really put the candidate experience at the forefront of recruitment practices.

On a similar  note, Accenture were presented with the Innovation in Recruitment Award in 2014 for their approach when interviewing for consultants to take on their major change programme. They provided live Q&A Google Hangouts, provided tours of their Innovation Centre and invited prospective candidates in to see their work first-hand and get a feel for their business. They attracted thousands of online views, and higher conversion rates on new hires (over 10% of people who attended Accenture events were successfully hired).

In a space where talent is scarce and demand is high, companies need to be looking at new ways to capture the attention of prospective candidates, and retain their interest.

The next big thing? ‘The Uber of recruitment’

It seems that every industry, from retail, to hotels and even taxi companies are susceptible to disruption (hello Amazon, AirBnb and Uber). There are a number of sites popping up, predominantly in the US and in particular around Silicon Valley where tech skills are in the highest demand, that are challenging the standard approach to recruitment.

Companies such as Elance, Anthology, UpWork and a few others are adopting a model which essentially involves posting a job, waiting for applicants or recommendations, and then paying for the introduction to those candidates. These companies have an impressive client list including some of the hottest tech giants in the world, and it’s a model that must work for some. However, I’m not particularly convinced that it’ll kill off the traditional recruiter.

Call me biased, but these companies for the most part are acting more like job boards, while promising the results of a recruiter by connecting employers to the best talent. It’s all fine and well when people actually apply for roles, but it won’t replace a skilled headhunter who is well versed in dealing with the delicate balance of the client-candidate relationship.

Who knows? In the future we may rely more heavily on these types of online networks, but if anything I believe the real risk is for those who don’t offer real, consultative value to their clients and offer exactly what these newer companies do; introductions. Nothing more; nothing less.

It’s exciting to see what is going on in recruitment today, and who knows what the rest of 2016 has to offer!

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