Peter Linas, CPO & EVP Corporate Development at Bullhorn
For most of 2020, the majority of recruiters faced a completely inverted jobs market - one that has been deluged with candidates while vacancies have all but dried up. Yet, some recruiters are thriving in this new environment.
Ordinarily, the equilibrium between supply and demand in recruitment changes gradually, but it has been completely upended over the past year. Employers overwhelmed with options can be significantly more selective – which creates further challenges for recruiters. Meanwhile, candidates are now more likely to approach companies directly, and in turn, employers can decrease wages (which also impacts the recruiter’s commission) and demand more from candidates.
The recruiters who are still placing candidates in jobs aren’t just the lucky ones in the right sectors, although our data shows that those operating in healthcare and tech are, unsurprisingly, doing well. Instead, they are the ones who are doing some housekeeping and tightening up internal processes.
What are successful recruiters doing?
While the world of recruiting has been turned on its head, there are still roles to fill, and the most agile and nimble recruiters have already adapted to meet new demands. Rather than attempting to apply the old status quo to a new and radically different world, successful recruiters have rethought their operations, introducing new technology and new processes to meet the moment.
According to Sara Flood of HTR Jobs, her firm uses the recruitment data the company collects to create specialised content for customers. “We send the articles out, and it has helped generate conversations and established us as a thought leader in the industry.” And in terms of measuring her own staff’s performance in a way that suits the current climate, she says that the agency has “measured them on having quality conversations” instead of just focusing on placements.
Rob Grant, General Manager at Harrington Starr, has found success in expanding what they offer to existing clients. He also says that they’ve focused on their team’s strengths to make sure everyone is in the best position to get the job done. “Utilise people where their strengths are. If they are better with business development, don’t necessarily move them to a 360 role.”
Alex Wiffen from Cherry Pick People says that his company has been utilising video to meet with prospective candidates and “go out and win business”. He also mentioned that it had streamlined the company’s process a lot, so it is perhaps a tool that will still be used post-pandemic.
Actions that firms can take
Technology has been the real hero of the pandemic, from allowing families to stay in touch to facilitating track and trace systems, so it’s no surprise that a large part of the solution to recovery for recruitment firms is to invest in technology.
Technology can help with sourcing, triaging, and managing candidate applications, while still leaving the final choice up to a human. If your firm has been overwhelmed by an influx of applications, consider automating the top-end of the process. For instance, some firms use a chatbot to assess ‘headline suitability’, which includes basic qualifications and the ability to work in the UK, saving the trouble of weeding out ineligible candidates.
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) also take the strain out of a candidate-rich market by building a detailed, dedicated database. They can provide analytics to track success over time, providing businesses with the vital metrics they need to determine areas of success and failure as they chart new territory.
Analytics has historically been challenging for firms to manage on their own. Still, modern technology makes it easy to pull relevant data from dozens of sources like social media, ATS, websites, and job boards, to name a few. If you find the proposition daunting, reach out to an expert to help you find the right tech stack and analytics tools for your needs – and to connect you with the right people to interpret that data.
Given that it’s harder to meet candidates in person, it’s also worth investing in social media as a branding tool. LinkedIn is a precious resource, but job ads on multiple social media sites allow companies or staffing agencies to establish the brand while reaching new prospects and engaging with talent. It will enable you to build a persona on an individual level, and candidates may reach out to you directly. It’s not a magic solution, but it can certainly be a powerful tool for building micro databases and establishing ecosystems to reach candidates.
Finally, to keep candidates on the path and compete with other recruiters, firms must make their process as straightforward as possible. Candidates are having a tough year just like everybody else, so show them some respect by removing hoops for them to jump through and keep to only the necessary calls and meetings. Additionally, candidates who become frustrated with an overly bureaucratic process risk abandoning it in favour of a job board or online platform, so it’s also in the recruiter’s interest to keep the process lean.
Recruiters have been quick to pivot their operations to meet the requirements of our COVID-19 reality, but there’s still time for more to catch up. Thinking outside the box and investing in the right technology will be crucial to a positive start in the new year.