Talent Management News

Irish technology set to power the UK workforce

Key trends in recruitment were a hot topic at the NexTech19 talent management event in London hosted by Enterprise Ireland. Leading industry players gave their views on what to watch out for in 2019; social media and marketing techniques are set to play big roles in the way candidates are sourced, while automation is likely to free up recruiters to focus on the intuitive, human side of the work.

The wide range of innovative Irish talent acquisition, workforce engagement and professional learning platforms winning in a competitive market showed clearly the benefits for UK companies in choosing Irish talent management companies to work with

Speaking at the event, David Corcoran, Global Talent Management Lead at Enterprise Ireland said: “NexTech19 is an opportunity to kickstart the year and showcase innovative Irish companies within our talent management sector to a network of senior UK decision makers. Irish talent management companies such as Globoforce, Sonru, and Social Talent are already well established in the UK, working with customers such as ASDA, Pepsico UK, Rolls Royce, while our strong cluster of high potential start-up companies are beginning to achieve strong first and second reference deals in the UK with customers such as Deliveroo.

“Many of our Irish companies are also partnering with complementary UK talent acquisition companies, so some HR and Talent Acquisition Directors who attended today have found that they have been working with Irish talent companies without realising it”.

All agreed that 2019 will be an increasingly candidate-driven market, with the number of open positions as high as ever. According to Glassdoor, 76 per cent of hiring managers reported that attracting top talent was their greatest challenge in 2018.

Katrina Hutchinson O’Neill, Founder & Managing Partner of consultancy Yardstick Associates said UK companies need to think about their brand when recruiting:  “So many organisations are really starting to feel the pinch with their ability to attract and retain the right talent. We’re at a record number of open vacancies since records began in 2001. There are a myriad of different causes but I don’t think employers in the UK are being agile enough in looking at what they’re doing around branding and their employer value proposition.”

So, 2019 will see recruiters reaching for increasingly innovative tools and strategies to push not just the job, but the company and its values. And if candidates are becoming customers and the jobs are the products, then job ads are going to have to be much more like marketing campaigns. Talent professionals will not only find themselves borrowing the tactics of their marketing colleagues, but having to communicate the values of the company with the sharpest and most cutting edge digital tools as well.

Hung Lee, Co-founder & CEO at Workshape said : “Being able to tell a story about your company and not just push a job out there and say “please please apply” but to tell a story about your company that’s hiring will be a crucial skill. That is a skill that traditional marketers have, but in fact no one owns it. People now call it growth marketing, but it’s basically just understanding how social networks work.”

To get time to concentrate on the nuances of marketing, a lot of traditional recruiter activity is going to be automated, and automation was another major theme at the event. In his keynote, Jonny Campbell, co-founder and CEO of SocialTalent, said that 2019 will oblige more and more recruiters to strengthen the high IQ skills of person-to-person negotiation, as time consuming admin tasks become a thing of the past.

“The need for objective judgment, the assessment, the persuasion and the influencing skills will be key in the future. At the moment, it’s not that recruiters don’t want to do those things, it’s that they don’t have time because the admin gets in the way. When you have automation tools taking those away there is the initial fear and trepidation as to ‘what will I do for my entire day’  but without the admin, you’ll become much better at assessing influencing and persuasion and you’ll develop the skills.”

But automated processes will also become something that candidates expect as an option in the way they engage with recruiters. Responding to a high volume of applicant calls to Sainsburys’, Chris Wray, Group Head of Recruitment Strategy, gave candidates the option to either wait for call handlers to talk to them personally or answer the identical questions via automated video interview.

“We said to the candidates you can do a video interview at your own time at your own leisure or you can phone but there’ll be a 10 minute delay at certain busy times. What we saw was 86 per cent of people wanted the video interview. It’s giving people choice. To me applicants want convenience but I don’t think they get that at the moment.”

Two of the most common phrases at the event were artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Much-hyped and much misunderstood, AI’s full impact on the recruitment market is yet to be fully grasped, but from drastically reducing the time spent on sifting CVs, right up to analysing voice patterns in phone interviews, the power to mine vast quantities of candidate data and create intelligent selections is clearly set to shape the future of recruiting. Irish software company BidRecruit impressed with a service that can cut time spent analysing CVs by up to 50 per cent using AI. Crucially its software is constantly learning to spot and correct bias errors making selection criteria more accurate and scientific than those applied by humans.

Recruitment marketing in the digital age means leveraging professional networks to push social messages around new positions but it’s not just the contacts book that will have to work harder. NexTech19 saw truly innovative referral schemes like HireUp which highlights to their employee networks that there’s an exciting new role available.

The smartphone app incentivises employees to share an opportunity and they receive a bonus when a member of their personal network gets hired. With 50 per cent of workforces often composed of millennial or Generation Z employees, HireUp is perfectly adapted for the social/mobile (SoMo) user. It allows engagement with the referral opportunity to go on 24/7, with a sizeable number of referrals typically happening outside work hours. The app also feeds analytics back to recruiters in real time, to see how the network is responding to the latest position.

Speaking at the event, HireUp’s Gary Berney said: “What you’re doing is capturing your employees’ network to drive the right quality of candidate into you. And you’re already self selecting your target by going through the channel of your employees. From an HR point of view, you spend less time searching through CVs and cut costs. For one of our customers, referrals went from 2 per cent of hires to 20 per cent and they cut time sifting CVs by 90 per cent.”

With 16 Irish companies represented on the day, NexTech19 demonstrated why Ireland has cultivated a growing reputation as a technology innovator within the global talent and recruitment industry. With innovation on their side, it’s clear why leading UK brands are seeking their own Irish Advantage over the coming year in the increasingly competitive war for talent and skills.

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