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Our American cousins and that “special” relationship

Charles Hipps

Much has been made of the difference between the British way of undertaking talent acquisition and how transferrable it is to markets such as the American market. In many ways the markets are more similar to each other than we might believe. Contributor Charles Hipps, CEO and Founder – Oleeo.

Of course, it would be a mistake to simply replicate the US process in the UK and vice versa. Indeed, what works in one regional area, won’t necessarily work in another, but there are some best practices being deployed in the US which may very well translate to the UK market.

For example, studies by McKinsey & Company in the US found that 40% of companies planning to hire in the next year said they had unfilled openings for six months or longer because they cannot find qualified talent. Such shortages of qualified talent represent one of their biggest expected challenges in both markets.

Top performing companies are beginning to realise that they need to take a more personal and customised approach to recruiting talent and research from Aptitude Research Partners shows that recruitment marketing is now one of the fastest growing technological areas in the US nowadays – on a par with UK interest.

Studies by LinkedIn emphasise the need for these companies to be on top of their game. Its research shows that 55% of leaders in the U.S. and Canada say that their team’s hiring volume will increase and in order to measure success they are focusing on how long a new hire stays at the company, hiring manager satisfaction, and time to fill.

Many have responded to this in improving their candidate experiences end-to-end from attraction through to recruitment. Mobile career websites and apps that feature prominent and relatable aspects of a brand are increasingly appearing given how tech savvy incoming generations are.

When it comes to the employer brand companies are also thinking about messages such as the company’s role in society, the scope to make a difference and so forth, as salary package alone is not pulling in this generation of graduates. Many of the top candidates have true philanthropic aspirations and firms that want to compete must address these candidates’ values in their own employer-value proposition.

This transformation is just the start of revolutionising the way that American firms or divisions can approach contemporary recruitment. Automating the screening and hiring process in order to eliminate human bias and time limitations will shape the future of recruiting. LinkedIn’s studies tell us that fewer recruiting teams will be enjoying bigger budgets this year – especially in the U.S. and Candida. In fact, over 60% of teams will have to deal with a flat budget, even though hiring volume will increase.

Panels, one-on-one sessions, phone screens, and other traditional interview formats are still, and will continue to be, prevalent. However, more interactive interview styles are rising in popularity that may provide better insight as to if the fit is right.

Again, this is not a big difference to the pressures being felt at home in the UK – particularly with the future after Brexit being so unknown. It simply serves to amplify the need for good artificial intelligence (AI) to make help recruiters and candidates make better decisions around the right fit for an organisation while optimising costs and results.

The emphasis on analytics is an important measure of success in the US, just as it is emerging in the UK. In addition to traditional recruitment metrics such as time to fill and cost per hire, there is also a focus on being able to measure conversion rates (including focus on interviews and hires, sources of influence, sources of hires and levels of candidate engagement.

Recruiters in the US expect that technology will cover the entire end-to-end cycle from the tactical (managing campaigns, events or content) to the transformational (supporting change management, process optimisation, candidate experience and ongoing support). All of this needs to handle workforce and compliance without jeopardising candidate experience. Competition is stiff. For the last few years, we have exhibited at the annual HR Tech Congress which attracts over 500 vendor exhibitors – the scale of industry providers is that huge!

Fundamentally this is a case of the US being the bellwether for making recruitment a more consumer-centred experience.  Candidates are customers is the mantra of the US marketplace and strategic talent acquisition is defined by the candidate experience. Get it right and organisations can deliver high quality talent, improve recruitment efficiencies and align more closely with business objectives. Get it wrong and you’ll suffer from weak talent forevermore.

Yet despite this, progress is still low. According to research conducted by The Talent Board, only 40% of recruiters are required to respond to candidates at all – indeed being unable to provide feedback due to sheer volumes of applications coming in is one of the biggest pain points for our clients. Increasingly the work load is a huge concern. US recruiters must wear multiple hats in order to be successful – recruiter, marketer and insights professional. With over 70% of candidates doing their own research, it’s up to them to be the ultimate talent acquisition professional and avoid the perils of high renege rates and stiff competition.

Typical goals for talent acquisition in the US can be surprised as such:

Increase applicant reach
Improve the candidate experience
Establish a strong social media presence
Deliver a branded and optimised mobile experience
Produce measurable data about the company’s recruitment efforts.

Given this complexity talent acquisition professionals need additional support to attract talent and overcome their greatest pain points in competing for the best talent using a holistic approach. Establishing the right approaches to building a talent pipeline in the US means jobs are distributed better, volume can be handled easier, cost per click comes down as does cost per application and referrals are more likely in the longer term. Just like in the UK, transparency is a reality for this new era of talent acquisition and without it recruiters will not see the dividends that they are vying to achieve with every post they advertise online.

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