The Innovation Key: how innovation will save recruiters

By Simon Kent, editor of The Global Recruiter

Recruiters are by their very nature innovative. It is easy to throw this comment around – but it is a theme which continues to come back to me – not least while researching for the last issue of The Global Recruiter’s Australia and New Zealand e-magazine. In our cover story we explored the idea of recruiters searching outside the usual talent pools in order to find the people their clients need (http://dld.bz/gTqu9). As numerous sectors and the employment market in general becomes tighter and under pressure, the usual avenues for talent are, if not drying up, then becoming more problematic.

While it is clear some recruiters are finding new ways of sourcing talent and new talent to source, there’s also a refusal to break the mould within other sectors. On the one hand, if a recruiter receives a candidate brief from their client they are very wary to step outside of that brief even if they believe they can find a good employee from an unexpected source. On the other hand some employing companies are still powerful enough, or at least have sufficient brand awareness, to be able to go out into the marketplace and simply scoop up all the talent that is there at the moment. In both contexts there’s a sense of ‘head in the sand’ over the issue. Keep going back to the same source and eventually it will run dry.

What is emerging is not just the creative ability of recruiters to ‘think outside the box’ in terms of the candidates they can offer their clients but also how they are becoming more creative in presenting and discussing this talent with their clients. Around the world the employment marketing faces challenges around creating and benefiting from a diverse workforce, and as the ANZ workforce age and look to retire, the diversity issue around age is particular acute in this region. Something must be done however, to move on from this scenario, because the older members of the workforce will undoubtedly leave, and newer members of the workforce may not have the same knowledge or experience of those they are asked to replace.

With this issue in mind, recruiters around the world are finding new ways of sourcing candidates. Some do this through lateral thinking, identifying those who have similar and/or transferable skills. There are also examples of recruitment companies who have taken it upon themselves to train candidates, investing in their skills in order to make the talent pool ready for the sector. If that doesn’t guarantee that the recruiter can get their hands on talent which the employer cannot then nothing will.

It is, I believe, going to be all right, though. Why?

Because the recruitment industry is innovative. Like I said, it’s an easy thing to say, but the recruitment function has to be at the cutting edge, it has to be fast moving, it has to be ready to respond as soon as demand for talent is expressed. You can’t do that without being innovative.

The challenge of finding candidates in a candidate poor market is being addressed through innovation: innovative technology that puts recruiters in contact with new candidate pools; innovative assessments which values candidates for their underlying, generic skills rather than sector specific ones.

Innovative training programmes which recognise an aptitude in an individual and offers the technical knowledge they need to work in an entirely new sector. Innovative recruiters who have the skills, knowledge, people skills and communication skills to be able to persuade and demonstrate to their clients that the talent they are seeking is available, and demonstrate to the candidate that this move is the right one for them.

This in turn highlights why there will always be demand for human, professional recruiters. Even when AI and machine learning is powering through other aspects of our lives and choices, the recruiter at the heart of the process will still be a human entity with the capacity to empathise, sympathise, discuss, debate and deliver.

Technology, no matter how sophisticated, cannot think innovatively for itself. It cannot create an entirely new approach to the problem of sourcing candidates.

It can, however, support the recruiter who does this, making their approach more effective and efficient.

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