RecTech: recruitment technology & innovation

Recruitment, or talent acquisition, has come a long way. It is becoming an increasingly prominent item on the boardroom agenda, especially as diversity continues to be a hot topic. Meanwhile, recruiters, particularly those in-house, are busier than ever. Talent moves quickly, both within and between companies, competition for positions is fierce, and pressure to reduce recruitment costs is widespread. These are just some of the factors putting pressure on recruiters to be quicker, cheaper and better. At the same time, they must ensure excellence across candidate experience and employer brand.

So how do recruiters move forward? Let's look backwards first. The recruitment industry has its roots in the pre-internet era and many of today's leaders in the field are a product of this age, training their apprentices in what some refer to as 'the dark arts of headhunting' when sourcing talent. Essentially, these are blend of good but basic skills using the phone and, more recently, email to supplement a recruiters market knowledge: network driven referrals, deductive market mapping, a bit of lateral thinking and a lot of boldness. Whilst these skills still have their place and form the basis of many successful recruiters modus operandi, the digital era affords recruiters with a whole host of new tools - and probably many more to come - which requires recruiters to upskill.

The internet, existing company databases, CV websites and online job advertising platforms offer a good starting point for many. Across these, it is important for recruiters to move beyond basic keyword searches to ones that actually deliver results. Each search will have its own nuances, which recruiters must become familiar with. Knowing what sort of results can be generated from different boolean searches is a vital skillset but it is also important to appreciate the sort of natural language candidates will use to speak about themselves. Using natural language searches can be important when focusing on diverse searches, given the ability to distinguish candidates as 'he' or 'she', for example.

Moving beyond these the world gets a lot bigger. LinkedIn is an obvious candidate pool and, for many, the new starting point for searches. It offers a powerful array of search functions, allowing the selection or unselection of certain criteria, such as company name, company size, industry, location, etc. Thematic search engines, such as Yippy, perform similar categorised searches but across the web. Of course, when conducting web searches, it's always worth consulting Google, given it is the world's biggest search engine. Social media is becoming increasingly powerful given the rise in user numbers and improved functionality. Facebook, Google and Twitter all have native search functions - some now offering enterprise services (Workplace by Facebook) and jobs platforms (Google for Jobs) - and there are web tools being developed to improve upon these, browser extensions being one example. Subject-specific communities, networking sites and communication terminals are also worth being aware of, such as CopePen and Github to find developers or Bloomberg and Reuters to find financial services professionals.

With the current rate of technology innovation, there will be a plethora of new tools to come. Machine learning will be, without a doubt, a big one. Automated CV screening has already begun on some application tracking systems deployed by internal recruiters. Advanced algorithms are also being developed to mine existing databases, which suggests bots or crawlers may be deployed across non-existent databases, namely the web, if they are not already. Artificially intelligent chatbots offer the ability to pre-screen and qualify candidates with a 100% response rate, thus delivering good candidate experience and employer brand. Across the board, there is a call for more use of mobile given the shape of today's connectivity, which is beginning to advance even further with the adoption of augmented and virtual reality - perhaps these, too, will become tools in the recruiter's new armoury. I received an Amazon Echo Dot this week and wonder if this sort of technology, too, will make its way into recruitment, perhaps by reshaping our current search capabilities and modes of engagement.