Roundtable recap: The Art and Science of Successful Recruitment

The heads of talent acquisition of major corporations share their innovative solutions for modern human resource challenges

Roundtable recap: The Art and Science of Successful Recruitment

Recruitment necessitates an array of skills and a wealth of experience. The key to acquiring the correct personnel and retaining high-calibre talent, lies in the recruiters' ability to leverage new technology, discern and adapt. A perennial challenge faced by human resource professionals is the harmonising of our dynamic workforce’s talents with the perpetual evolution of industries.

At a recent roundtable session hosted by HRD and the world’s number one jobs site, Indeed, and chaired by Peter Wood, the heads of talent acquisition for several major corporations shared how recruitment is both a precise art and a data-driven science.

Participants of this casual discussion work in a myriad of industries, ranging from banking and engineering to hospitality and real estate. These distinguished guests discussed the profound impact of data, automation and employer branding on the acquisition of top-tier talent for market leaders.

In the private dining room of LeVel33, which is an award-winning restaurant, bar and microbrewery located in Singapore’s Central Business District, this roundtable of astute recruiters convened to engage in an erudite discourse. This captivating exchange traversed the realms of practical case studies and bestowed upon participants a trove of actionable insights, destined to elevate their recruitment strategies to new heights.

Wood, a professional moderator, started the conversation by asking these esteemed professionals what market trends have motivated them to modify their strategies and protocols.

To which, the panel highlighted that:

  • There has been a hiring surge
  • Companies have been rapidly creating jobs
  • Companies are enthusiastically searching for individuals who can drive and deliver exceptional results
  • Individuals with broad and unique skill sets are difficult to come by
  • Creating a job and finding someone to fit in that job is no longer common practice
  • Engaging the new generation of talent is a challenging company branding exercise
  • And new practices and technologies are empowering companies in their global search for talent

Unicorns

Following these shared observations, the conversation gravitated toward the search and retention of unicorns, who greatly benefit the depth and scalability of companies. Most participants of this scintillating dialogue shared that unicorns are difficult to place. However, some participants also noted that unicorns can be developed internally, through the congruous training of current staff. Thus, bringing a candidate aboard just to fulfil a predetermined role has become an obsolete approach.

Paradigm shift

Most participants agreed that recruitment across the globe is experiencing a seismic transformation. Like countless other facets of the corporate world, HR too has been deeply impacted by artificial intelligence (AI). There is a huge global cry for talent, and hiring is expected to ramp up in flourishing industries like travel and aviation, one participant emphasised. However, some of the biggest focus points of talent acquisition teams today include:

  • Leveraging new forms of data to help businesses understand where demand is
  • The proliferation of AI-enabled acquisition among competitors
  • Significant changes in demographic of talents
  • Talents’ increased access to information about hiring companies
  • The subsequent emphasis on company branding and possible repositioning
  • The need to educate and upskill hiring managers
  • The now-common trend of remote employment and remote working
  • And other significant changes to work culture after global lockdown

Likewise, pivotal trends that are reshaping the conventional HR model include:

  • Employees’ drive for remote working arrangements
  • The benefits of being able to hire remote workers from abroad
  • The return of the gig economy after COVID
  • The power of technology as a key enabler for freelancers and remote workers
  • The need to grow high-demand skills, which many companies are facilitating internally

The remote working trend and unicorn talents naturally became overlapping conversation topics, whose benefits include cost savings, minimisation of employment paperwork and increased employee morale.

Roundtable participants each shared their experiences with keeping talented personnel motivated and engaging elite talent from foreign countries. During this segment of sharing, a few participants raised intriguing insights, that they had found success in opening jobs to existing employees, and training and developing employees to fit dynamic, broader and high-level roles.

One participant from the service and hospitality industry shared that her company places great emphasis on ‘people first’, which has encouraged internal upskilling. New roles were opened to current staff first, which led to the long-term development and long tenures in her company.

Advanced AI

Participants asked, when it comes to niche skills, how can they be best searched for and found? Which metrics are helpful when scouring for unique skills sets? These questions necessitate deep thought because they comprise many parameters – a quick hiring process sometimes results in an employee not being an ideal candidate, and subsequently, a quick departure.

This is where bleeding-edge AI fulfils a preeminent need. Beyond tracking systems, participants shared that advanced technology can be used to thoroughly analyse job descriptions, and identify questions that managers should be asking candidates.

The human touch is paramount when advocating a company, one participant said, while another participant shared his experience with employing chat bots to collect job applications and even conduct video interviews via WhatsApp, albeit for more junior levels. While today’s AI is advanced enough to automate many HR processes, it can also be leveraged to curate personalised experiences for candidates.

Other powerful advantages of integrating AI into HR processes include:

  • The ability to analyse candidates applying to your company’s job opening, and also see who is applying to similar roles at other companies
  • The ability to quickly discover talents with suitable skills or with adjacent skills
  • Advanced Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) taking care of tasks like analysing compliance, and continual update
  • The easy identification of common issues faced by employees
  • The quick calculation and determination of offers, shortly after final interviews
  • Increased company agility and adaptability
  • The shortening of applicants’ waiting for results
  • Holistic assessment can minimise quick employee turnover
  • Large scale social listening and analysis

Technology can do many things and creates endless possibilities, but might not be sensitive enough to certain subtleties yet, such as facial expressions, tone and body language, which hiring managers take into account. These nuances, the group agreed, are important when assessing if a talent fits into a company’s culture or is merely looking for a short-term job.

Another participant replied that AI for non-English languages is still in its infancy, so he still experiences speed bumps when applying AI to processes conducted in his native tongue.

Modern technology had been used by some of these HR leaders to lower the reschedule rates of interviews, and better prioritise meetings with clients and talents. What are the top skills that your company has been attracting and what skills sets have your competitors been acquiring? Advanced analytical tools can shed light on this, along with providing clear visibility of where a company is winning and losing talents, and identifying which kinds of talents need to be sourced in the immediate future.

More transparent employers

Solutions offered to acquiring and retaining rare talents include the opportunities for them to speak with senior leaders. Those convened agreed that improving public perceptions of less desirable industries is very important. On this topic of public perception, one participant shared that she focuses on identifying how employees have benefitted at her company, and sharing how women returning to the work force are well taken care of at her company. She starts concentrating on company purpose and employer value proposition, and creating a diverse environment that is inviting for one and all.

In fact, Indeed’s partnership with Glassdoor enabled companies to craft compelling employer brands through meaningful storytelling. With over 95% of workers in Singapore saying that they read reviews about a prospective employer at some point in the job search process, according to Indeed, it becomes critical for organisations to convey their employer value proposition and values to successfully attract (and retain) employees.

A simple benchmark of a company’s HR processes is asking the question: Given the opportunity, would you hire this person again? The opinions of the talent acquisition leaders gathered, echoed the sentiment that assessing current employees, leveraging job websites’ tools, gathering feedback from both successful and unsuccessful job applicants, targeted “spearfishing” instead of untargeted “net fishing”, and positive referrals, all count immensely towards improving HR processes.

Only through the expert blending of experience, intuition and new technology can the early bird get, and retain, the worm.

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