Technology has made huge inroads into our professional and personal lives, and it is no wonder then that a department that hustles several transactional tasks, which are routine yet vital to the smooth running of the organization, is undergoing a major transformation with technology at the helm.
Right from recruiting skilled talent (quite a long-drawn-out process that one!), onboarding them, entering employee data into payroll system and updating it regularly, granting leaves, handling shifts, assisting employees with any documents they might need, preparing tons of recruiting reports to promoting companies at job events, organize external/internal training for employees, gathering feedback from employees, managing internal communication with employees, the operational and functional tasks that come under the purview of Human Resources are rigorous. From the above list of exhaustive tasks that every HR department is laden with, most rely very heavily on documentation and manual processing. With advanced technology at our fingertips, isn’t it only logical that this technology is used to offload some of these mundane and transactional tasks to a bot, freeing up the HR personnel to focus on more value-added tasks?
In this article, we will focus on one of HR’s most crucial functions — recruitment. Traditionally, this has been an area that demanded a considerable chunk of HR department’s time and efforts.
A majority of the Millenials are familiar with how recruitment was done before the advent of technology. It was not very long ago that most households with job aspirants were witness to a morning routine of the aforementioned character hunched over the morning’s newspaper, armed with a pen in hand circling a few of the many job postings in the classified section while sipping a cup of piping hot coffee. Once the job postings were selected, the next task was to send printed copies of their resumes in neatly addressed envelopes to the addresses mentioned in the postings or at times, personally go deliver it at the organization. The HR department of the organization, upon receiving this application would go through it and on finding it relevant, would forward it to the manager, who would take a call on whether to proceed with the particular applicant.
While this picture looks simple enough, in reality, there is a stark difference. For instance, it was not just one or two such applications that the HR department would have to go through, but several hundred for each role advertised. Manually going through each and every one of these was hardly time efficient if not impractical. All that changed with the advent of technology. While newspapers still post job ads, most of the advertising happens online on career building network sites, forums, or other forms of social media. Job aspirants, too, are no longer hunched over their daily newspapers, but are constantly checking for notifications about their job applications ((among other things, of course!) on their phones or laptop (with the hunching intact).
Recruitment post automation
Recruiters can now sift qualified candidate resumes and discover some gems in the process from the many networking sites and other sources. The ease of applying for a job that the internet has facilitated comes with another daunting challenge for the recruiter. Selecting the right candidate from a sea of qualified and skilled applicants would be akin to fishing with a handy little fishing rod (to take the analogy further)! Let’s take a look at some specific areas of recruitment where automation can assist the HR to make the entire process easier, faster, and better.
The task of manually filtering through scores of resumes to find the ideal candidate is a daunting one, with a recruiter spending on average 23 hours screening resumes for a single hire! Around 52 percent of talent acquisition leaders consider resume screening to be the hardest and most time-consuming part of recruitment. It is for this reason that recruiters are turning to technology that goes a long way to alleviate this burden. With the help of data-driven automation software and applicant tracking systems, companies are able to function efficiently even when faced with a barrage of resumes. This intelligent software empowers the HR team to screen a select few candidates who meet their requirements. However, many industry experts such as Lou Adler, CEO of Search and Training firm The Adler Group, believe that today’s prevalent technology is ‘still about weeding out the weak rather than finding the best’. Volume recruiters would beg to disagree since they consider these software invaluable tools that enable them to focus on more value-adding tasks.
Manually keeping an applicant updated throughout the recruitment process is yet another one of those crucial yet challenging tasks that the HR team struggles with. Considering the importance job seekers place on being regularly updated (67 percent reported to have a positive impression of the company that gave them consistent updates according to data from CareerBuilder). What better way to communicate with the applicant in a consistent manner than to engage them in some important pre-qualification information pertaining to their location, compensation, intent, and special skills if any? Not only would this be helpful in understanding the candidate better, but it would also engage the candidate during the recruitment process. An intelligent chatbot can handle the task of asking repetitive questions to candidates, thus engaging the candidate as well as enabling the recruiter to focus on other tasks.
Interviewing a candidate to get the best out of him/her requires skill, tact, and intuition among other qualities, which an interviewer may not always be blessed with. How many times have we sat across an interviewer, wiping sticky sweat across our brows and upper lip (ughh…), under his agonizing gaze, trying to form coherent sentences that would make even our weaknesses look like our strengths! This is not to say that all interviews are disasters, but with human biases aplenty, understanding a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, his/her passion is not an easy task. Automation can help recruiters immensely in this respect — recruitment interviews conducted in collaboration with digitized interview technology equipped to assess factors such as their word choices, speech patterns, and even facial expressions can help decide how well a candidate will fit the role. Apart from these benefits, automated recruitment software also empowers candidates to schedule interviews as per their convenience at home or a venue of their choice.
HR automation, a necessity?
As discussed above, automation of certain processes pertaining to resume screening, pre-qualification, and interviews make the entire process efficient and provide a positive experience to the candidate as well. According to Ideal, a virtual recruitment assistant, a great example of automation aiding in recruitment is the iconic British clothing retailer M&S, who created over 35,000 job vacancies by automating the entire process, manually supported only by two human touch points making it an extremely efficient process and garnering a whopping 98% rating from its users! Apart from providing a positive experience to the candidate, technology is helping recruiters with their administrative burden drastically. With an ever-increasing hiring volume (56 percent according to a survey of talent acquisition leaders) but with 66 percent of recruitment teams remaining the same size, automation can help ease the burden on HR personnel.
Recent studies have revealed that some of the best-in-class recruitment practices involve reaching out to candidates long before they apply (or even sense the need for a job change) for the position. More and more organizations are opting to engage and educate potential talent about the opportunities they offer, a paradigm shift from a traditional recruiter to a strategic one that follows proactive recruiting. According to Aptitude Research partners, a Boston-based analyst, and advisory firm, this strategic shift is also resulting in close to 70 percent of enterprise companies investing in these functions. This transformation of HR from an administrative facilitator to a strategic partner has been made possible thanks to a technological collaboration. Boon for some, bane for others, it is imperative to understand that automation, when strategically applied to one’s recruitment process, can yield significant results.
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