3 big recruitment trends you need to know about this year

recruitment trends
Lucinda Schmidt


written on August 8, 2016

More than halfway through the year, HRM takes a look at three of the biggest recruitment trends anticipated for 2016 to see how they are tracking.

Are these recruitment trends a reality, becoming a reality, or remain in crystal ball territory?

1. A move away from finding talent to selling to talent

“There’s lots of talk, but not a lot of doing. People are waiting until the big companies start,” says Fiona Anson, co-founder and director of job marketplace and human resources technology firm Workible. When HR practitioners complain to her that good talent is hard to find, she asks them what they are doing to market their employment brand.

Michael Ilczynski, managing director of SEEK Employment, says Telstra and Medibank are two examples of companies that have invested in career sites to promote their business as a great place to work. It’s not just about companies having a LinkedIn profile and spruiking benefits such as flexible working arrangements or catered lunches – it’s about actively marketing their organisation as an amazing workplace.

Employer brand is becoming increasingly relevant as people seek meaning and a real sense of belonging to the communities they work within,” Ilczynski says.

The Australian Public Service (APS) takes this ‘selling-to-talent’ message to heart, especially after a recent report found multiple issues with its recruitment process. The report, Unlocking Potential: Australian Public Service Workforce Management Reform, found that rather than promoting the APS as a desirable workplace with challenging and valuable roles, its employment advertisements were a turn-off for many candidates.

Stephanie Foster, deputy commissioner, Australian Public Service Commission, says the APS started making changes late last year. First cab off the rank was the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, which advertised several roles requesting just a resumé and a one-page pitch, rather than several thousand words addressing selection criteria.

“[For some in the APS] the initial view was that it would be impossible to judge an applicant on a one page pitch; in fact it was very easy – and they got a much broader and diverse pool of applicants,” Foster says, adding that it sparked “a bit of a revolution” with other departments following suit. “People who wouldn’t normally apply did because it was easier.”

Another change to recruitment trends is to describe jobs in simpler, more dynamic terms, making a conscious effort to sell the role – for example, emphasising that the APS makes a difference by influencing policy. “Our recruitment process was bogged down with meeting our obligations to recruit openly and fairly, rather than thinking about attracting talent,” says Foster.

As Foster makes clear, though, it’s not just about the recruitment process. What really needs to change is internal attitudes.

“We are trying to get the message out within the public service that you don’t need to go through a complex recruitment process,” she says. 

Foster acknowledges that it’s a mindset change. “We’ve been [recruiting under the old system] since I joined the public service almost 30 years ago and probably long before that. Now, we’re trying to take a fresh approach; we have to focus on who do we really want to attract and what is the best way to attract them.”

2. Increasing use of video and mobile in recruitment

“The shift to mobile is one of the most fundamental shifts we have seen and continue to see in job seeker behaviour, with hirer interest fast following,” says SEEK’s managing director Michael Ilczynski. He notes that 65 per cent of visits to SEEK’s employment website and 35 per cent of applications come from mobile devices.

At human resources technology firm Workible, co-founder Fiona Anson says about one-third of candidates access its job marketplace through a mobile device. Figures from global aggregation jobs board Indeed are higher: 54 per cent of its Australian job search traffic was from a mobile device, slightly more than the global average of 50 per cent. Increasing smartphone ownership allows job seekers to browse when convenient, either within an app or clicking on email job alerts, and the peak time for mobile traffic is 8pm, according to research conducted by Indeed.

Improved technology means employers can create a branded, mobile career site that accepts applications from any mobile device. However, organisations have been slow to make the switch, according to Anson. 

There’s plenty of talk about video as a selling tool to showcase an organisation’s workplace, as a replacement for face-to-face interviewing, to reduce time and costs, and in place of a cover letter to give employers a greater depth of information about a candidate – in particular, verbal communication skills.

Despite this, it seems to be one of those recruitment trends that’s slow to gain a footing. “I thought video would be massive, but people haven’t really embraced this yet,” Anson says. Workible’s human resources technology has had a built-in platform for video interviewing for the past three years, but few companies currently use it.

The platform allows the recruiter to send a request to a candidate, such as: “Please send us a two-minute video of yourself answering the following three questions.” What they have found is that about 70 per cent of candidates respond with the requested selfie, 15 per cent opt out and 15 per cent don’t reply at all. “Doing it this way, most of us can tell within two minutes whether it’s worth conducting a next interview,” says Anson.

One company that has embraced video is Telstra. It began using video screening in 2014, mainly for its graduate and summer vacation programs, as well as some other areas that required high-volume recruitment.

Darren Fewster, executive director, Global HR Shared Services, says Telstra uses video or voice format to screen candidate responses to technical and behavioural-based questions. Fewster says video interviewing is a faster way to screen applicants than either traditional CV reviews or phone screening.

“The platform provides an opportunity for candidates to showcase their personality in the screening process and supports our company vision of being a world-class technology company at the same time,” he says. “It also provides a valuable record for us to return to in order to validate or reconsider a particular application, as opposed to reviewing what has been captured in the interview notes.”

3. Shift towards data and analytics-based decision making in recruiting

For some time, the talk about how analytics is going to revolutionise recruitment has been making the rounds. But when it comes to recruitment trends, is it a daily reality in the industry? Not so, according to Andrew Lafontaine, senior director, HCM strategy & transformation, Oracle APAC. “From what I see across the Asia-Pacific market, it’s extremely early days in terms of using big data to make informed recruiting decisions,” he says.

Three years ago, an aggregated technology platform to integrate data from, say, human resources, finance, customer and sales platforms did not exist. Now, Oracle and others offer a big data integrated platform to pull together all sorts of valuable recruitment metrics.

Some recruitment companies are moving towards predictive analytics, but for most employers, the main metrics are still time to hire and cost of hire, plus more recently a focus on the channels used to hire, such as job boards, LinkedIn or referrals.

“A lot of organisations have performance management, learning and recruitment on different platforms, so it’s almost impossible and extremely time consuming to correlate all the data,” he says.

In contrast, Lafontaine describes recruiting analytics “nirvana” as having an in-depth data profile of a company’s best performers and using that to develop sourcing strategies. “You take the data from performance management and feed that back into your recruitment.”

For example, candidates might be rejected because they don’t have a degree, but analytics might show that neither do the organisation’s best performers. Predictive analytics can also be used to sift through external data sources such as census results, company filings and news reports to find patterns. 

Fiona Anson, co-founder of HR technology firm Workible, says they have been building an algorithm for the past three years to enable organisations to map the perfect candidate. “You tell us who are the best hires and we’ll map that out for you – where the best candidates have come from, what they’ve done in the past – what are the commonalities? As opposed to gut feel or what seems good on the CV.”

She says big data analytics is particularly important in highlighting candidates with desirable soft skills such as collaboration. “Again, there’s a lot of talk about this, but not a lot of action.”

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