Recruitment – A short, but hoary history
When you think about recruitment, what are the images that come to your mind? Do you, for instance, picture people traveling across trading routes or entire communities moving to new countries, even continents, reshaping history as they voyage across the seas?
This is the tale of recruitment: a crucial human resource allocation practice with an ancient history. Recruitment involves sourcing, sorting, selecting, and on-boarding employees to an organisation, often on a large scale. Modern day enterprises see talent acquisition as a way of accelerating the growth of sectors, economies, and even countries.
Pic courtesy: Caribbean Atlas
You may wonder where history features here. Think about it: at one end of the spectrum, in the Middle Ages, people from Western Europe were recruited into imperial armies that marched across countries, winning territory and bounties that helped them build economies back in their home countries. At the other end of the spectrum, as agriculture, trade and commerce flourished between countries and new lands were discovered, colonists moved labourers from countries in Asia and Africa to work in tropical plantations in the Caribbean and South America, and to build the massive railroads and towering cities of the new world. Entire populations of merchants and traders moved behind these workers, following opportunity and a hope for a better life.
From colonial history to COVID-19, technology has changed the very face of recruitment. At the dawn of the 20th century, as many countries around the world underwent massive industrialization, the concept of working in factories and offices was introduced to societies.
Pic courtesy: New York Times
Suddenly, people used to being students, gentlemen (and women) of leisure or serfs in farms became office-goers and factory workers. Almost just as suddenly, recruiters started scouting countrysides and underdeveloped countries and moved people to cityscapes: cities just didn’t have enough talent to satisfy demand, and countryside just didn’t have enough work. Recruiters profitably bridged this demand-supply gap across geographies with strategic hiring for their organisations.
As the masses began work in smoky factories, we zoom our historical lens past the World Wars where young men in the West (and the colonies) went to fight for freedom in far-off shores. We march past growing armies of smartly clad ‘white-collar workers’ and uniformed ‘blue collar workers’ manning the great enterprises in newly independent countries of the 20th century. We fly by past recruitment drives by ‘body shoppers’ to staff Y2K projects and beyond, to the dawn of a new century.
Modern day scenario: How recruiters were doing it pre-COVID
By the early noughties, recruitment had become a critical and mainstay function of modern-day HR organisations.
On the supply side, candidates looking for jobs pored over the classifieds in daily newspapers or approached specialist employment agencies and consultants to submit their résumés.
Some historians point to the arrival of the telefax (or fax machine) as an advancement that sped up the typically slow process that could take multiple months. With computer-based faxes, recruiters could receive and forward résumés in minutes, build their databases and call candidates for interviews. Still, the time from initial contact to making an offer and onboarding was long, till the internet explosion happened.
The genesis of virtual recruitment, online recruitment, or e-recruitment, whatever the moniker, can probably be traced back to that day in 1994 when monster.com launched its portal. Monster’s success launched a slew of similar firms, most of them with a B2C focus, where candidates could upload their résumés, build online profiles, and apply to jobs listed on the portal.
The social media era saw the rise of LinkedIn (launched in 2003) to build professional networks of job seekers and recruiters – all eager to interact for mutual benefit on the platform.
On the B2B side, recruitment firms took advantage of technology to support enterprises – whether in their quest to hire hundreds, even thousands of employees in single drives, or more specialised hunts for skilled workers in smaller numbers. As the new century progressed, candidate databases, video hiring of remote candidates, recruitment workflow systems and fraud detection software were integrated into the process, with an aim to optimise time spent on the effort and secure better candidates.
Recruitment during COVID-19M
We now arrive at 2020 in our story: countries around the world came to a screeching halt due to lockdowns, economies came crashing down like dominoes, bringing global enterprises to a halt in ways they’d never experienced before. While ‘game changer’, ‘disruptor’ and myriad other terms may be clichéd, they still perhaps aren’t descriptive enough to convey the enormity of the change.
But, behind closed doors and shuttered windows, locked-down people still managed to live, work, and play. As days turned into weeks, apprehending months of stasis, enterprises started sending employees work to their homes and restarted recruiting: suddenly-suppressed economic forces resurfaced with a vengeance and qualified people were essential to support the renewed activity. A report by the leading recruitment firm CareerNet Consulting that studied the impact of COVID-19 on hiring in India found that organizations are turning to technology to implement virtual hiring and onboarding during this crisis.
The recruitment sector now had to transform and adapt to the new normal. Video-enabled recruiting accelerated beyond anyone’s guesstimation: remote, safe, supported by fraud detection technologies and critically, fast.
Recruiters have now climbed on the virtual hiring wagon post the initial COVID-19 shock, as enterprise leaders realised that the virus is here to stay for some time, and enterprises must carry on with business as usual. For instance, CareerNet found in their survey that over half of all employers in India expected to resume hiring from January 2021. As the report concludes, the expected revival of hiring is going to be through innovation-driven solutions that foster meaningful candidate engagement and efficient recruitment.
Video to the rescue?
Perhaps, video-driven recruitment can be called the true game changer in this new recruitment paradigm. Recruitment technology companies that offer complete remote recruitment solutions use video interviews, enhanced with voice and facial recognition technologies – sometimes with whopping success rates of 99% – to assess candidates via video.
Pic: From HirePro website
Video recruitments can make life easier for recruiters in several obvious ways.
1. Simplify the scheduling process: Have you scheduled in-person interviews for 10 candidates with 4 internal stakeholders? Scheduling can be a nightmare, leaving admins (and their managers) frustrated and hapless. Just completing the interview process can take all the bandwidth of recruiters, leaving them with little energy to manage the candidate experience. Now, think of doing it for a 100, a 1000 or more candidates, many of whom could be in remote locations.
Video interviews, supported by scheduling software, can make the process seamless. With a few clicks, recruiters can ably connect remote candidates with scores of internal stakeholders — hiring managers, technical leads, HR interviewers, and others — without any of the parties leaving their desks.
2. Recruit efficiently at scale: The ‘scale’ part of this equation begs repetition. If you are a recruiter who has conducted career fairs with walk-in candidates, you’re surely aware of the logistics, screening, and fraud detection issues that are involved. Efficient recruitment platforms can move the entire process online, even speeding up the process with pre-checks conducted for documents and prior filtering of candidates. Recruitment targets of even tens of thousands can be met without breaking a sweat: surely, a distinct advantage for smart recruiters.
This also makes performance tracking a no-brainer for HR leaders – when all the workflow data is available with real-time reports, HR managers can better manage their star recruiters and support those lagging behind them.
3. Remove process inconsistencies – Interviews may vary questions across candidates – thus making evaluation harder. Candidates may freeze in strange, new settings – losing out on great opportunities (and organisations losing out great hires). The job may require mastery over technology – something not easy to test in a typical in-person setting. Time may be wasted in small talk, breakfast, lunch, or other social necessities in a campus setting. All these inconsistencies can get wiped out in a single stroke when the interviewer and candidate login from remote, comfortable locations for a 20-minute call (versus a multi-hour commitment in the older formats).
There are a host of non-obvious benefits of video interviews as well: for instance, if you argued that much of this could be done over a phone call, think of the ability to observe body language and non-verbal cues – huge insights for an interviewer that are not available in a typical phone interview.
In a nutshell, video interviews score over old-school recruitment techniques in any dimension. They improve the overall process for all parties, leaving recruiters, interviewers and candidates happier, with better communication, closure and a far superior experience.
Associated tech that makes video recruitment real & effective
The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and predictive technologies in recruitment is a significant enabler for recruiters. AI-powered software has algorithms that sharply reduce the time taken to hire candidates. Candidate screening, setting up interview schedules, maintaining ongoing communications during the process and automated onboarding are all done seamlessly and efficiently. The bonus? A huge improvement in the candidate experience, burnishing the organisation’s brand and reputation with potential employees and the public at large – something companies are very sensitive to in the internet era.
AI-powered HR software also helps recruiters do better data analyses while recruiting, making for improved cognitive decision-making to source better candidates.
Reading the tea leaves: Forecast for post-pandemic recruitment scenario
Let’s take a leap forward to how all this is shaping up: thinking of 2, 3, even 5 years from now—in 2025—when the world is well past the pandemic disruptions. We predict that organisations large and small will be well-settled into working with large numbers of remote workers in almost all settings, making remote recruitment technology the norm.
Hiring needs will evolve rapidly as technology continues its march of disrupting sectors, giving rise to new business models. Not just this, technology will support business strategy more ably, giving leaders the ability to forecast market trends for longer time horizons – making plans beyond quarters to years and multiples of years. This will make strategic hiring all the more important.
The focus of recruiters will firmly be on matching the best candidate profiles for these highly strategic job opportunities. Video interviewing, aided by a slew of technologies such as virtual lobbies, real-time document verification and profile analysis, will make instant candidate matching, on-the-spot offers and speedy onboarding the norm for enterprises. Recruiters will also rely regularly on better, actionable metrics to ensure their activities directly benefit the bottom line of the organisation.
Aided by advances such as video hiring, a truly global economy is shaping up right before our eyes. Welcome aboard the future of recruitment; it’s looking sunny ahead!
If you want to learn how we, at HirePro, help employers with modern-day recruitment, please call us at 080 6656 6000 or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.