manvsmachine-1All of my clients (recruiters) are seeing sourcing their own recruitment talent as their priority. Lots of strategies are being developed to help attract and source talent to help them build their own businesses and support their clients.

2 things happened this morning which prompted to me write this blog:

  1. The fabulous Boolean Black Belt published a blog about How to Find Active and Passive Software Engineers on Stack Overflow .  14 years ago recruitment was about how many paper CVs you had in your drawer a great memory (yes, I’ve skipped a few sequences!).  Now it’s about looking for needles in a haystack – in space!
  2. I listened to John Sumser’s latest podcast where he interviewed Zahir Ladhani, Vice President of Smarter Workforce (IBM).

John and Zahir’s initial chat was about technology and the skills gap.  Technology has evolved at a very fast pace.  As it evolves the role of the talent changes, and the skills gap is created due to the roles of talent not keeping up with technological advances.  We often hear about this skills gap affecting purely technical roles.  Zahir used the example of the toll booth operator who used to primarily collect cash, bring replaced by operators who can program systems to collect money.

So what does this mean for the role of the recruiter – a role which is not often equated with the word “technical”? Ironically some staffing company directors want to discourage the use of technology to recruit – they feel that they are the last bastion of the “human” element of recruitment and they see this as a USP.

Yes they have systems like CRM/ATS, but these systems are so “yesterday” when it comes to hr technology. (Video / mobile / sourcing tools / referral systems, etc…)

Example: Mobile Technology

I was privileged to be asked to speak at Bullhorn Live last year.  The Bullhorn team demonstrated their mobile app, and the room turned from an audience actively excited about the, to one dominated by staffing company directors wanting to understand how to restrict access to mobile technology due to fears about how it could be abused. (Speechless!  There is a lack of understanding that talent is not searching for jobs while at work anymore, they are mobile and likely to be the most active when you have shut your systems down for the day!)

Example: Video in Recruitment

Ironically, the agency / staffing company main competitor, the in-house function, is either using video tech as part of their recruitment process or seriously considering it.  The average staffing company is either finding it hard to see how video will help their recruitment process, or they are finding it hard to find the budget to invest in it. (I’ve used video in my own latest recruitment campaign.  I want the best, most confident and presentable people in my business, and I don’t have time to meet everyone who on paper and on the phone can wing it!))

The Recruiter Skills Gap

I started out in recruitment in 2000.  Back then we had 150 staff and 4 computers (north, south, east and west) and you could use these pcs when your boss went for a cigarette.  Using a pc was classed as “admin”.  We had teams of administrators who shielded the sales people (recruiters) from digital tools which were seen as a distraction (we now use the word “disruption”).

This model is now pretty scarce now.  Try asking a recruiter to fill out a paper form to get anything done and you’ll get push back.  Recruiters want speed – they are up against a super-speedy, passive-talent world, often working on the same job as 5-10 of their competitors and to top it all their client has a LinkedIn Recruiter license too! (Nothing like a little pressure to guarantee quality #ironic!)

Filling the Digital Recruiter Skills Gap

Hands up if you are a staffing company / in-house team who is actively seeking talent for your own teams which can use the new digital tools! If you are, do you have a competency-based questioning process to help you check the skills of the applicant? (Breathing, having more than 1000 LinkedIn contacts and being young is not a competency.)

Does your internet usage and social media policy actually encourage the use of technology to recruit, and if it does do you back this up with training / action?

Do you actually have the technology (and environment) to allow digital recruiters to do their job and be what they should be in 2014 – agile?

The role of the recruiter has never been more technical – and it has never been more competitive and littered with opportunities to disrupt.  Recruiters need more digital skills and open access to technology, or they risk not being able to fill the skills gaps of their own clients.

Lisa Jones
About the Author: 
Lisa Jones is a Director of Barclay Jones, a consultancy working with agency recruiters on their recruitment technology and social media strategies. Prior to Barclay Jones. Lisa worked in a number of Recruitment, IT, Web and Operations director-level roles. She is a technology and strategy junkie with keen eyes on the recruitment and business process.

You’ll see Lisa speaking at many recruitment industry events and being a recruitment technology and social media evangelist online. She works with some of the large recruitment firms, as well as the smaller, agile boutique agencies.

You can follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaMariJones or connect with her on LinkedIn.