For many of us, the last couple of weeks have been all about getting back to business after a busy festive period. The start of a new calendar year can be a strange time, particularly as it is not exactly uncommon for those within a workforce to start thinking about a change from their current role. Put frankly, the new year brings new perspectives, and that can often mean some people have the desire to move on to a fresh challenge or seek to take the next step up their career ladder.
If research is to be believed, more people are looking at this than you would probably expect. According to a study from Investors in People, almost half of UK employees (47 per cent) expect to look for a new job across 2018, with a quarter of workers also stating they feel unhappy in their current role. A range of reasons were given for this including issues with management and pay, while others reported feeling undervalued and that there was no scope for progression in their current role.
An important role to play
With this in mind, it would appear that recruitment and HR is going to be fundamental across the early parts of 2018. Indeed, further research has already indicated that businesses may be prepared for such trends and are confident of securing the talent they need to move forward. According to a survey by the CBI, 50 per cent of firms expect to recruit staff across the coming months with many stating a diverse workforce is key to their success. However, it was not all good news, as the report also revealed many businesses regarded a shortage of skills as a major concern.
So, considering these findings, just how are firms planning to get the right recruits through the door? For a great number of years the reliance has of course been on the standard process of wading through CVs, cover letters and spending time on interviews, perhaps with the odd test thrown in for good measure. Other services like reference checking from firms like IScreenYouScreen are also now integral to many firms, but is this really enough in 2018? For some businesses, recruitment can often feel like a gamble as to whether they will secure the services of the right person for a job. To use an analogy for the element of probability, let’s look at the odds-based game of roulette. Some HR brands might these days argue that doing the basics above is akin to just betting on a single number on the wheel – a move that leaves you with a low probability of success. However, just like in roulette, you can boost that probability by using tools and strategies at your disposal. For roulette, it could mean choosing to play the French versus the American variant, as the latter’s double zero roulette wheel means the player is less likely to win than when playing the former. For recruitment, it can mean that candidates should be tested on specific skills rather than more general ones, for instance. This is also where big data, algorithms and so-called ‘machine learning’ come in.
A range of uses
According to a recent blog by the CIPD, there are a number of areas where such processes are proving beneficial in recruitment, from tools designed to match a candidate’s skillset to a role to even specialist video services which monitor facial expressions during an interview to provide feedback on issues such as body language. There is also thought to be a company analysing the completion of online applications and making notes on issues such as the over-use of the delete button – an apparent sign of indecision. New research compiled by Perkbox has suggested this kind of use of analytics and data will be integral to many HR practices across the course of the year with 77 per cent of business leaders believing in its importance. Furthermore, the Salary and Benefits Report 2018 from ECM also revealed that the past 12 months has seen a huge growth in the trend.
There are obviously some significant benefits to the approach, with some services simply offering businesses the opportunity to automate some aspects of recruitment and therefore boost efficiency within their own workforce. Some commentators have also compared the big data strategy to the so-called Moneyball-style use of analytics by sports teams. Such a process means that football clubs, for example, can heavily analyse transfer targets to ensure they are getting someone who will provide the core abilities they need in a key position and also be a vital member of the overall squad. After all, why would you not want to bring in someone who was perfectly suited to a position rather than face the potentially costly headache of getting it wrong and being back to square one? However, there does remain a strong argument that data and data alone is not the key to recruitment success in the current climate. Some argue that such systems are still far from perfect, with Rob McCargow of PwC outlining to the BBC that they would need to be monitored due to some persistent issues. He highlighted that algorithms could lead to “an amplification of bias and discrimination”, as ultimately such services are only as effective as the information they are provided with and the algorithms they use – put simply,
Winning big with recruitment
This ultimately suggests that while algorithms, AI and machine learning may have a role to play in recruitment, there is still very much a place for the old-fashioned standards and principles which have served recruiters for many years. For now, the answer to getting recruitment off to a strong start in 2018 may simply be to use CVs, interviews and tests alongside these new, very 21st century, tools. Allowing the old and the new to go hand-in-hand could ultimately be key to improving your odds across the coming months.