employee engagementInternal communicationsrecruitment marketing

Notes from 21st Century Recruitment: A Southerly event

Employer branding, employee advocacy, content marketing and employee engagement; these are the new cornerstones of modern recruitment. It’s for this reason we held a panel debate yesterday to ask the question: Will the 21st century see the death of the recruitment agent?

The short answer? No. A poll we took at the start of the event to gauge opinion was very much undecided. By the end of the debate, which heard insights from our expert panel as well as HR managers, recruiters and recruitment agents, recruitment marketers and HR journalists, the pendulum had firmly swung. And that, I should add, is a good thing. It’s progressive. I’ll explain why.

Job seekers own the markets and court demand

Vying to attract and retain talent

The fact is the recruitment landscape is invariably changing and recruiters, HR managers and recruitment agents alike face the challenge of adapting old models and reacting to new trends. Job seekers own the markets and court demand, while new technologies come to the fore and companies vie to attract, and importantly retain, the right talent. You can’t just put an ad in the paper any longer; for a start, the people you really need might not even read newspapers.

As one of our panellists, Joe Wiggins, Head of Communications (Europe) at Glassdoor, put it: “Candidates are acting like consumers. And employers are acting like marketers. And if they’re not, then they should be.”

Joining Joe on our panel were Angela Hood of recruitment technology developer This Way Global; Laura Wigley, Talent and Learning Director at The Dorchester Collection; Neil Dickins, founder of Intellectual Capital Resources and arguing for the recruitment agent; and Southerly CEO Shelley Hoppe, making the cost-benefit case for recruitment content marketing. Our host, the award-winning HR journalist Jo Faragher, drove the debate and fielded audience questions on iron-hot recruitment issues like promoting a diverse workforce, strategies to find specialist employees, the recruitment power of impassioned employees, and the effect of Brexit on the availability of talent in the UK. On that point, incidentally, “Brexit would be devastating” was Angela Hood’s hardy plea, while Neil Dickins and Laura Wigley took the view that it would very much depend on immigration policies implemented as a result.

The recruitment agent is metamorphosed

The recruitment paradox

The recruitment agent is far from dead, rather metamorphosed. They, like HR managers and marketers alike, have undergone a digital shift and face new ways of working. Technology and technique evolve with changing times and we have an audience of job seekers with very different needs to eight years ago, pre-recession. However, it was agreed that, whatever new tech comes into play, nothing will replace human-to-human interaction. A point raised was that where new techniques rooted in recruitment content marketing can whittle down, say, 300 candidates to a shortlist of 10 highly viable and engaged potentials, the dedicated recruitment agent can really flex their pecs in vetting that key pool.

Neil Dickins pointed out the recruitment paradox that we all face – that companies are often too busy to give the requisite time and thought to creating an attractive employer brand and nurturing a complete company culture, yet the sheer fact that they are too busy is a stark reflection they need more people. Not only that, they need people with specific skills. Indeed, as Neil also points out, this is where the recruitment agent’s human-to-human interaction comes into its own – finding a recruitment partner that can find people in niche and specialist areas. This is an especially attractive model for start-ups that don’t have the resources to dedicate to building a full employer brand.

But competition in this respect is fierce. Southerly CEO Shelley Hoppe pointed out that every company these days is after the same type of talent. In the digital world, more or less every company is a tech company. This is where creative recruitment content really bolsters attracting and retaining top talent. We need to be creating content that finds and piques the interests of those very specific, very niche candidates: the ones that will fit and will stay.

As Joe Wiggins said: “It’s about having the confidence to say ‘we’re this kind of company and we stand by that’.”

It’s OK to turn them off

In other words, it’s OK – fortuitous, even – to use your recruitment content to show some people why you’re not the right employer for them. By managing expectations from the start you dissuade candidates that won’t enjoy your company culture and who are likely to leave within a few months, saving significant time and money. Honesty, in this respect, is the best policy, as was extolled by Laura Wigley, who mentioned that this has contributed to increased staff retention in the hospitality industry in recent years.

Of course, an employee engagement strategy rooted in excellent, honest and transparent internal communications has a role to play here. As Shelley Hoppe said, “The job isn’t done when they walk through the door.” Employee engagement is an on going job, but when it’s done right, you create brand ambassadors from your own workforce, employee advocates; the kind of people that will go on to social media and Glassdoor and genuinely uphold and promote your employer brand. And in 21st century recruitment, that is an ideal situation.

In an increasingly fragmented digital environment, where every company is vying for similar talent and as new technology and fresh techniques come into play, the answer is to work together – collaborate. The recruitment agent is very much alive and kicking, and can provide that human-to-human touch that secures a star candidate, and more to the point, a highly specialised candidate in the final furlong of the recruitment race. Content marketing is about providing the right information about your employer brand to oil the cogs of that process and help you find and nurture the talent you want on your team.

About Southerly

We are a creative content agency. We are storytellers.

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