This year has already been dubbed the ‘Year of the Candidate’, as growing economic confidence is shifting the power from the employer to the employee. After years of economic uncertainty which encouraged employees to stay in the same job and prompted employers to be cautious about making investments in new staff, the continued positive news is reinvigorating the employment market.
However, the role of a recruiter has changed dramatically over the last decade – not least the new timescales enabled by social media and mobile. Add in the new complexities of employers looking to support flexible working and access new added-value skill sets, and the recruitment model looks very different.
A great deal has changed since the last time the jobs market experienced any kind of frenzied activity. Social media now dominates the way candidates look to engage with new employers; mobile is the standard way of interacting online; and a raft of employment legislation in tandem with cultural shifts has fundamentally changed the way individuals work. From flexible working to zero hour contracts, international placements to demands for employees that offer more than just the standard skill set, this is truly a 21st century employment market.
So just how is this new era of recruitment affecting the industry? How are candidates now approaching the job market? What are their expectations of a recruitment consultant? And with good skills thin on the ground in many sectors, just how can agencies be successful and maximise revenue in a highly competitive marketplace?
New Recruitment Dynamic:
One of the biggest changes affecting recruitment consultants is the new speed of turnaround. According to the latest research, the recruitment process has contracted to just 87 days from start to finish. This is driven in part by organisations making much faster decisions regarding new employees – with greater economic confidence comes less prevarication and more demand for rapid expansion of the workforce.
But it is also being driven by the changing way organisations and candidates look to interact with the recruitment process. From the use of social media to identify new job opportunities to online registration and application, and video interviews, the traditional delays within the recruitment process are being smoothed out and eradicated.
So how can consultants respond to this changing environment? Step one has to be a highly efficient and effective mobile enabled recruitment process. This is not just about using mobile devices to gain 24×7 access to both candidate and client information – that should be a given in 2015. This is about ensuring that the right processes are in place to support the mobile enabled consultant. For example, how easy is it to set up alerts to flag up responses to jobs – and enable immediate response? How quickly is a consultant able to respond to a client’s new demands, then find and locate the right candidates? If consultants cannot do this effectively and efficiently, via mobile, they are likely to miss those new candidates who are registering during evenings and weekends.
Critically, this faster turnaround model demands highly effective search techniques. There is no doubt that companies’ hiring requirements are becoming more complex as they look to fill roles in different ways to support flexible working, the need for interim managers to support a new business initiative, even looking for different skill sets. Add in the explosion in internal and external data sources and it is now essential to put in place the right combination of approach, technique and supporting technology when it comes to search.
The good news is that a number of new search tools have been developed in response to the changing data environment, from indexing to data ontology. However, as most recruitment companies can attest, there is a huge divergence in the quality of search achieved by different consultants due to expertise, confidence and approach. In an era where rapid turnaround is now critical, consistency of approach and dissemination of search best practice can transform performance.
One important area of development is contextual search. Working across both unstructured and structured data, contextual search bases the results on an understanding of what is contained in the text rather than a filename or associated field, making it a far more intelligent form of searching. The benefits include not only faster search but, critically, improved accuracy of match results. By unearthing more links between a candidate and a job specification, consultants have a greater chance of identifying more relevant candidates – and delivering those candidates to the client sooner. Critically, in this candidates’ market, great search enables the consultant to identify more opportunities for top candidates – reducing the risk of those candidates defecting to the opposition.
This latter point is key: as candidates become ever savvier in what is without doubt an employee’s market, both employers and recruitment consultants need to compete for candidates’ attention. There are so many ways that a recruitment company can begin to differentiate itself from the competition – such as offering video interviews for those candidates looking for a significant geographic relocation for example, or using psychometric testing to identify the best fit based on personality, logic, and many other traits that employers are increasingly seeking.
But all of this activity will be in vain if the fundamental processes have not been enhanced to support the new candidate-centric, 24 hour recruitment model. From effective use of social media to embedded mobile-enabled processes that deliver the speed of response and intuitive search that gets the right candidate in front of the right client as fast as possible, consistent, best practice use of technology is now a fundamental component of the recruitment model.
The challenge for recruitment consultants is to ensure that every aspect of the process is equally efficient and responsive. Having successfully adapted to the way candidates behave and created a business model that can deliver that fast candidate turnaround, consultancies can not only keep one step ahead of the competition but increase their candidate appeal and stand out from the crowd.