With the scale of the disruption caused, there is scarcely a single element of business that hasn’t been severely impacted by COVID-19. However, due to its fickle nature, the talent acquisition space is an area that has been particularly affected, both positively and negatively.

For instance, in many cases, with the precedent now set for remote working, the talent pool has become larger than ever. However, TA professionals now face the herculean task of smartly and efficiently narrowing this down, and doing so via purely digital means. Both a blessing and a curse, from a certain perspective.

In any case, it’s crucial that organizations have the know-how to successfully navigate this ever-changing terrain. To gain some more granular insight, HRD Connect spoke to Charles Hipps, founder and CEO, Oleeo.

So how has the climate of 2020 impacted talent acquisition?

Undoubtedly, 2020 has been a challenging year for talent acquisition professionals. The effects of the pandemic have been varied, dependent on which industry you are in and how demand has affected business needs. There has certainly been a feeling of disruption as employers pivot and adapt to the ever-changing environment we find ourselves in.

For some, volume has never been so high in terms of footfall which has resulted in hiring sprees. In those circumstances, time to hire and quality of hire has never been so vital. On the flip side, many others have really faced tough times with hiring freezes put in place and a number of talent acquisition personnel have sadly found themselves in the process of redundancies following the end of furlough schemes.

Through it all, there is a pressing need for resilience. I think that will certainly be the way the profession looks back on 2020. We have seen tough times, while we have also witnessed huge social changes such as the Black Lives Matter movement, which have really reshaped how we look at talent acquisition and what we should be doing to ensure a better tomorrow for all.

What practices can TA professionals integrate to remedy this and get back on track?

This will not be a year that many of us look at with fondness, and it is hard to identify any certain remedies in the absence of the much-needed vaccines. What the industry can do though is focus on Recruiting Enablement – empowering employers to make high-quality and diverse hires efficiently, by engaging diverse talent pools and enabling tailored employer value propositions.

One of the key challenges that talent acquisition professionals will want to show in an eventual new normal is that they can demonstrate key skills. Such skills include improved decision making, mitigated bias, reduced administrative burden on recruiters and hiring managers, and speedier alignment of recruiting with desired business outcomes regardless of strategy, complexity, or volume.

Recruiting Enablement helps recruiters support decisive hiring manager behaviors. At the highest level, the Recruiting Enablement process is about empowering recruiters to make the best possible hires every day, as efficiently and effectively as possible.

This includes: designing and configuring workflows that support diverse and inclusive recruiting strategies at scale; automating processes to serve up relevant content to candidates and to fast-track qualified candidates; streamlining administrative tasks such as interview management and gathering hiring committee feedback to identify qualified candidates more quickly, and leveraging data throughout recruiting processes to make better, evidence-led decisions.

The phrase ‘never waste a crisis’ appears to be gaining popularity lately. How do you think TA professionals can potentially leverage the current situation and derive some kind of benefit from it?

One of the most important things to remember when facing a crisis like this one is to make use of the time, and zero in on what could improve your processes and your offering as an employer.

This can take many different forms – for example, are we conveying the right employer value proposition to demonstrate our credentials in these uncertain times? Or have we equipped our workforce to be able to function whilst working remotely? Have we got a strategy for virtual recruiting? Are we conveying our D&I commitments transparently? Is our candidate experience as smooth as it could be? Are we equipping interviewees to participate in virtual interviews without fear of prejudice? Are we recruiting as efficiently as we can? The list goes on.

We have noticed a real shift in tact from talent acquisition leaders to really focus on how to make things more seamless and stress-free, despite the limitations presented by coronavirus, and the uncertainty caused by ever-changing legislation and directives.

Recruiting Enablement helps recruiters design highly-configurable workflows that allow for specific, more relevant content that drills one layer down, to the day-to-day experience of a specific role. What’s more, that content can be further tailored to meet a diverse pool of candidates from a more inclusive perspective.

By giving talent a transparent look at the unique ‘role value proposition’ told from a more inclusive perspective, recruiters do a better job of encouraging candidates to opt in or out of improving culture, and of driving success around performance indicators like retention, offer and acceptance ratios, and culture fit.

What role does data have to play in TA in 2020 and beyond?

Data is vital to building successful talent acquisition strategy end-to-end, including supporting applicant tracking, assessments and screening, candidate engagement, interview management, and event management.

Used well, it can be configured to allow recruiters to design and execute on highly-tailored workflows that include the specific processes and content unique to specific scenarios. Automation can be built to help recruiters reinvest their time into high-value activities.

Next-generation Recruiting Enablement platforms include data-driven automation to speed bulk activities, such as sifting, screening, assessing, interview scheduling, and making job offers. Built to help recruiters pinpoint and advance best-fit candidates that meet diversity and inclusion objectives at scale, next-generation Recruiting Enablement platforms use AI and machine learning to remove bias from and given insight into the effectiveness of recruiting processes.

It is just as vital to nurture diverse and inclusive strategies, and next-generation Recruiting Enablement platforms will combine data-driven decision making with the ability to deliver tailored content at every step in the workflow.

Companies are facing new pressures in talent acquisition that impact both processes and technology. Talent acquisition and HR leaders can no longer afford to rely on a reactive or traditional approach to recruitment. They must look to the future and data to meet the needs of the business and the changing expectations of candidates, recruiters, and hiring managers.

In fact, 67% of talent acquisition and HR professionals are not providing hiring managers with the right data to make decisions, and only 32% of senior leaders are confident in the data that they have available to make decisions. What’s more, according to Aptitude Research, companies that use data to automate decision-making are twice as likely to improve quality of hire.

Recruiting Enablement provides recruiters with the tools they need to be successful in attracting, recruiting, and hiring quality talent. These tools automate the administrative tasks of talent acquisition and allow recruiting and hiring teams to make data-driven decisions focused on quality.

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