The Biggest Issue In Talent Acquisition

Talent Acquisition is changing. Over the last few years a plethora of new technologies have entered the market looking to automate and optimise all parts of the process.

In the last 12 months, much of this disruptive focus has been on the recruitment marketing element of Talent Acquisition. There are now numerous recruitment marketing platforms on the market offering variations on the marketing automation services that have proved popular and effective in other industries. For the most part these innovations should be welcomed, the level of sophistication in recruitment marketing has lagged behind that found in other marketing disciplines for decades and it is good to see things moving forward.

While recruitment marketing platforms promise much, there will deliver nothing however if talent acquisition leaders don’t pay attention to what has swiftly become the biggest issue facing recruitment marketing, the talent attention crisis.


We live in an age of digital noise and distraction. The rise of mobile devices sees us connected constantly where ever we are and the fire hose of social media is bombarding us with a stream of information so intense that focusing our attention properly on anything can be a struggle. Current methods of talent attraction are often adding to the noise by spamming poorly written job adverts into social media and bombarding potential candidates with untargeted and unwanted messages via LinkedIn.
With an increasing amount of this advertising and speculative outreach being ignored, many recruiters are turning up the volume and pumping out even more noise which is just causing larger numbers of potential hires to switch off. Short term attention grabbing gimmicks may work initially but in the long run have the potential to do more harm than good and alienate audiences even further.


There is a huge danger that the new recruitment marketing technologies will just add to this noise and make things even worse unless talent acquisition leaders have the right strategy in place.
The Employers effectively cutting through this cacophony of noise are doing so by working long term to build trusted employer brands that people can’t help but take notice of. They are properly researching the needs of their target audiences of talent and are carefully targeting them with the right messages. In world dominated by technology, empathising the human factor is critical and marketing based on the use of authentic employee stories is proving be particularly effective.  These stories are even more effective when they are properly backed up with persuasive messaging that sells both the employer and the opportunity to the potential candidate.


Measurement is also critical here. Response rates, social media metrics and careers site analytics are essential in understand just how and where the talent attention crisis is affecting each individual employer.


It is important to remember that recruitment marketing platforms are just tools and not the answer in themselves. They have the equal power to improve talent acquisition or to damage its effectiveness even further. To utilize them successfully talent acquisition leaders will need to ensure they fully understand the importance of talent attention, brand building and communication that can resonate in our ever noisier world.

How To Stop Ignoring Mobile

According the latest OFCOM report, smartphones are now the UK’s most popular device for getting online. Mobile Internet usage has been growing at a rapid rate for several years now but the recent take up of 4G services has now brought us to this highly significant tipping point. Mobile is no longer an alternative access point for use when a PC and Laptop aren’t available; it is the primary route to the internet for a majority of the population.

Why is this change occurring?

It is important to realize that this isn’t just about substituting one access point for another and behaving the same way, smartphones have fundamentally changed our relationship with the internet and the mechanics of how it works forever. More than a third of people use their smartphone within five minutes of waking up. Within the 18-24-year-old age range, this number creeps up to more than half. People are spending two hours a day on average on their smartphones, which now represent a crucial digital hub for both work and play.

Unfortunately, most employers are still struggling to keep up when it comes to effectively harnessing mobile in the recruitment process. It is often viewed as difficult, expensive or just an add on in a box ticking exercise. This is an unsustainable position with an overwhelming body of evidence now underlining the vital importance of mobile in the recruitment process.

My advice? Any change in talent acquisition strategy seems to work best when it is planned and done in stages. Instant revolutions are normally not possible. With that in mind, here are some key areas to focus on:

1. Optimise your recruitment marketing content.

The first connection you have with your audience, whether it’s via a proactive message or by someone being exposed to a job post, has a high probability of reaching them via a mobile device. There is a huge amount of competition for attention on someone’s screen and it’s important to make sure that you understand the needs of your audience and are being both empathetic and interesting.

Wherever possible, step away from text. Videos and images are now the currency in the new mobile world. For years, long-form text has been the default method for recruitment marketing, so this is a big change. However, it is a good change, as visual communication is a brilliant way of getting a huge amount of information across in a limited amount of time.

2. Plan to go mobile first with your careers site.

As an industry, we need to step away from the whole idea of a mobile-enabled career site and embrace the mobile-first careers site. Mobile can’t be seen as an afterthought — it needs to drive the whole concept, design and content of the corporate careers site.

It is important to give people what they want quickly. Don’t make them search for the information that is relevant to them as they are likely to go somewhere else instead. If you can engage user attention quickly, the evidence, from the clients that I have worked with, indicates that they will actually engage with more content on the mobile site than they ever would on a desktop.

If you recruit across a number of different disciplines, an alternative approach to consider would be to build several targeted microsites rather than one big site that is a constant compromise between the needs of different audiences.

3. Put mobile apply on your roadmap.

It’s nearly 2016 — you can’t dodge this one anymore. An Indeed survey from last year found 66% of job seekers would apply via their mobile device if they were able to. This is confirmed by recent Forrester Wave research, which reports that candidates expect to be able to search and fully apply for jobs on company careers sites using their mobiles. So what can you do to improve things if you don’t currently support mobile apply?

First, review your ATS provision. Can you really afford to continue to tolerate a legacy system that is not fit for your recruiters and your potential candidates? If you’re stuck in a long-term contract with your ATS vendor, put pressure on your provider and investigate the growing number of services that offer a technical workaround for mobile apply.

While this all might seem daunting, it important to do something to improve your mobile strategy. Unfortunately, going mobile isn’t easy and requires investment, however it’s essential in the long term. Based on my experience working with employers, the benefits are also enormous and companies that have started on their mobile journey already have a huge advantage in the market.

How Google Does HR Differently

Google’s approach to HR and Recruiting has always been a much discussed topic in our industry. Their tenacity in seeking out only the best of the best is legendary and their approach has scaled up in line with their rapid growth from small Silicon Valley start-up to a company with a global workforce of 55,000 people.

Google’s SVP of People Operations Laszlo Bock has recently published a book called Work Rules which gives a detailed insight into how Google has built its incredible success on the back of an innovative approach to talent.

I was lucky enough to meet Laszlo in person recently and interview him for my podcast. Although our discussion was relatively brief a very clear sense of Google’s unique approach to HR, recruitment and culture came across.

Here are some of the main points we talked about:

Why Google has “People Operations” rather than Human Resources:

Google chooses to brand its HR team as “People Operations”. Initially this was because it was felt that Human Resources was considered to be an old fashioned term by Google’s software engineering employee base. However People Operations has grown to represent a distinct data driven approach that is disrupting many traditionally held HR believes and practices. It is also a brand that a number of Google’s contemporaries have copied and People Operations departments are now becoming a common feature of the tech start up scene.

Recruitment Focused HR:

Google believes that hiring should be the single most important people activity in any organization and they spend more on recruitment than any other HR related activity by a considerable margin. Laszlo believes that if companies hire the right people in the first place then it follows that less needs to be spent on talent management and development.

Line managers shouldn’t be able to make their own recruitment decisions:

Whilst line managers are heavily involved in recruitment process at Google a hiring committee makes the final decision. The thinking here is that if the line manager’s need to fill the gap on their team as quickly as possible it could lead to a drop in quality of the person being hired. Each hire (several hundred a week globally) is also individually ratified by Google’s CEO Larry Page to ensure overall quality is maintained. Google have optimised the hiring process so well it now only takes 45 days, despite all the steps involved

The vital importance of data:

Data informs every aspect of HR at Google and there are a team of data scientists within the People Operations team. Laszlo feels that data and analytics should be an essential element of the people approach in every organisation. However he also feels that HR teams shouldn’t be ruled by data and sometimes “doing the right thing” by their people is more important. He points to Google’s exceptionally generous death in service benefit as an example of this

You can listen to my full conversation with Laszlo by listening to the podcast

Alternatively you can subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher

You can also find it by searching for “Recruiting Future” in any podcast mobile app (I recommend Overcast for iOS or Pocket Casts for Android).

The Current State of Social Recruiting

Social Recruiting has been around now for nearly ten years but many companies are still struggling to use social platforms for recruitment in a successful way. All of the key social media platforms have made significant changes to their functionality in the past 18 months and many employers are using approaches to social recruiting that are seriously out of date.

There are however some great examples out there of organisations using social in a strategic up to date way and benefiting from huge value in terms of branding, quality hires and cost savings.

In Episode 9 of The Recruiting Future Podcast I interview Andy Headworth who has been researching successful social recruiting case studies for his new book.

In the interview we discuss:

  • How social recruiting is changing and what it now takes to be successful.
  • The use of mobile
  • How brand driven engagement is yielding some great results
  • Social Recruiting case studies from the UK, Canada, USA, Australia and Denmark

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher

You can also find it by searching for “Recruiting Future” in any podcast playing mobile app (I recommend Downcast for iOS or Pocket Casts for Android).

How Should HR Respond to the Digital Revolution?

The space where people, work and technology meet is becoming ever more fascinating and is throwing up huge issues for HR departments round organisational flexibility and change management.  Lots of people seem to have an opinion on what is happening and what should be done but fewer people are actually commenting from the HR trenches on what it is like to face those issues on a daily basis.

In Episode 8 of the Recruiting Future Podcast I speak to Neil Morrison the Group HR Director at Penguin Random House UK, someone who is dealing with these challenges first hand.

You can hear us discuss:

How Penguin Random House has had to respond to the digital revolution and turned it from a threat into an opportunity.

The evolving nature of HR technology with a move from big enterprise solutions to smaller “disposable” alternatives.

The expectations of employees for a consumer grade user experience at work

Penguin Random House’s ground breaking social recruiting initiative to attract new marketing talent into their business

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher

You can also find it by searching for “Recruiting Future” in any podcast playing mobile app (I recommend Downcast for iOS or Pocket Casts for Android).

Why Content Marketing is Important for Recruitment

The importance of content marketing has grown significantly in the last two years. Creating a body of relevant and effective content can help companies to recruit, to promote their employer brand and establish thought leadership. Despite the significant benefits of getting content marketing right, it is still very much under used and misunderstood in the recruiting and HR space

In the latest episode of The Recruiting Future Podcast I interview Mervyn Dinnen who is an expert in content marketing and engagement for recruitment and HR. Mervyn is helping a number of organisations with content marketing and in our interview he shares what is working for his clients and gives advice on how to get started with content marketing techniques.

You can hear us discuss:

  • What content marketing is, its benefits and how it can be used for recruiting, employer branding and customer engagement.
  • Why using job listings as content can potentially attract the wrong audience.
  • How Social Recruiting is changing
  • What formats to use when and what is working for companies using these techniques
  • Mervyn’s top 7 tips for producing effective content
  • Kittens, Puppies and Poldark!

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher alternatively find it by searching for “Recruiting Future” in any podcast playing mobile app (I recommend Downcast for iOS or Pocket Casts for Android).



The Current State of In House Recruitment

Getting an unbiased view on what the real issues are in the in-house recruitment market can be tough. There are lots of opinions out there but ultimately not very many people with a genuine helicopter view. For Episode 6 of the Recruiting Future Podcast I wanted to speak to someone who has this kind of viewpoint and Jamie Leonard from Reconverse was the perfect choice.

Reconverse is a successful boutique networking and events company for in-house recruiters that is just about to celebrate 100 round table events. Chairing these round table discussions gives Jamie a unique perspective on the industry and in the interview he gives us his take on the in house resourcing market. We discuss numerous topics in this area including recruiter skill shortages, what’s new in recruitment technology, categorization in the ATS market and a potentially terrifying game changer for established job boards!

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher or find it by searching for Recruiting Future in any podcast playing mobile app. Alternatively browse past episodes here

Glassdoor and the New Transparency of Employer Brands

We live in an age of social proof. The rise of review sites in almost every aspect of our lives has been incredibly rapid and making any buying decision without searching the internet for the opinion of others now seems strange to us. Within this context I’ve followed the rise of Glassdoor with real interest. It is by far the world’s largest collection of employee and interview feedback and over the last few years it has expanded operations significantly from its original base in California. Glassdoor now has a presence in the UK, Germany and France with more country launches being planned.
In the latest edition of the Recruiting Future Podcast I talk to Joe Wiggins Glassdoor’s Senior European PR Manager. We discuss the reception Glassdoor has had in Europe and the types of companies whose employees are engaging with the site the most. We talk through how the transparency of Glassdoor is making companies think differently about their employer brand and Joe gives some great tips on what employers can do to ensure they are managing their reputation in the most impactful way.
You can listen to the podcast below. Alternatively you can subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher or find it by searching for Recruiting Future in any podcast playing mobile app.



How to Recruit in a Skill Shortage

One thing that remains constant about recruitment is that in many business areas there is often less talent to find than there are jobs available.  As economies improve and competition intensifies the problem is magnified and it is a problem that recruiters are now experiencing in multiple markets globally.

In the latest episode of the Recruiting Future Podcast I interviewed Clare Lewis of global risk advisor and insurance broker Willis. In the interview Clare talks about the innovative approaches they are taking to deal with the skill shortages in their industry.  These involve such things as local outreach initiatives to enhance both the employer brand of company and industry, talent management strategies, recruitment process improvement and a sharp focus on the candidate experience.

You can play the podcast below. Alternatively you can subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher, listen on Soundcloud or find it by searching for Recruiting Future in any podcast playing mobile app.

Cracking The Candidate Experience Code

The candidate experience must be one of the most discussed topics in our space over the last few years. To everyone outside of recruitment the conversation must seem ridiculous, if we all agree that a good candidate experience is important then why not just do it? Recruiters everywhere know that this is much easier said than done, particularly in large complex organisations.

For Episode 3 of the Recruiting Future Podcast I was delighted to interview Bethan Davies from RMS. RMS are an organisation that have won international acclaim for their focus on a quality candidate experience and in the interview she shares some of the steps they have taken to execute on their vision in this area. We also talk about some of the great work they have being doing using video as a way of communicating their brand and how they leverage referral recruiting to identify hard to find talent.

You can play the podcast below. Alternatively you can listen on Soundcloud, subscribe on iTunes or find it by searching for Recruiting Future in any podcast playing mobile app.