The future of staffing: How can tech augment the hiring process?

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Article by Rachel Enstrom
Jul 16, 2020
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The staffing industry is in the midst of a technology transformation. Even before COVID-19, firms were scrambling to inject new life into their hiring processes with innovative tools like chatbots, technical assessments and automated candidate messaging — and today’s emphasis on a remote workforce has only fanned the flames of change.

Historically, hiring has been about as much fun as getting a tooth pulled for candidates and clients alike. But times are changing, and a fresh approach can empower recruiters and talent acquisition managers to provide a friction-free experience across all three stages of the hiring process: awareness and consideration, application and selection and onboarding and post-placement support. Ultimately, this leads to more efficiency and career growth for candidates, while clients benefit from greater productivity and bottom-line ROI.

And that’s where technology and strategy come in. 

With the right tech stack andthe right technology roadmap in place, recruiters and talent acquisition managers can overhaul today’s hellish experience and replace it with personalized, friction-freejourney that seamlessly spans the entire hiring lifecycle — from awareness to application to selection and beyond

With this approach, candidates are set up to succeed thanks to streamlined applications and better communication. Clients are equipped with the technology they need to quickly discover qualified hires who fit the company culture and are down to stick around for the long haul. 

As Senior Product Manager of Staffing Technology at Horizontal Talent, my finger is on the pulse of this industry’s tech scene. I’ve seen which platforms make a difference and drive ROI — and which technologies justget in the way and add complexity to the process. As COVID rages on and the American economy adjusts to the realities of a remote workforce, it’s time to explore the new frontiers of tech-enhanced staffing across each phase of the hiring timelineHere’s my take. 

Phase 1: Awareness & consideration

In the staffing world, many firms drop the ball when it comes to true 1:1 personalization. Today’s job seekers demand a mobile-first experience, immediate feedback and self-optimizing content thattailored to their individual needs. But when they search for openings on websites and job boards, candidates are met with clunky portals that aren’t designed for phones, long periods of silence and impersonal, irrelevant content. 

Why does this happen? Companies often invest in best-of-breed applicant tracking systems (ATS) and Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs)— but they fail to integrate these technologies and get their teams on the same page. As a result, firms view each user as a muddled collection of disconnected data points swimming around in siloed systems. 

But when companies sync their ATS on the back end with their DXP on the front end, they seize control of the digital experience and unlock the ability to track user progress across every touchpoint. They can anticipate in real-time what a user is looking for when they click and browse. Each micro experience is a stepping stone along a clearly marked journey instead of a disconnected interaction that happens in a vacuum. 

To further augment the web browsing experience, many staffing firms have begun to implement chatbots. In many ways, chatbots are the current flavor of the day — they pre-screen candidates by presenting them with a menu of questions and hand off the baton to a human counterpart once the user provides some basic information about their needs. 

Today’s chatbots offer value in small doses. But on our technology roadmap, we’re planning to take the personal assistant experience a step further by implementing a chatbot with AI-powered contextual awareness and auto machine learning. Based on factors like device, time, date and a user’s trail of digital cookies, we can piece together each web visitor’s unique identity and pick up exactly where they left off each time they revisit our site. 

Once a candidate advances from awareness to consideration, it’s time for the job board to take center stage. At Horizontal Talent, our job board optimizes content to attract candidates based on type, skills, interest level and availability. And to keep up with the shifting needs of the marketplace, we recently added a remote job filter — another way technology can add value with speed and ease. 

Phase 2: Application & selection

Once a candidate is in our ecosystem, we use machine learning to automate real-time engagement after application to gauge interest level for current and new positions. In the near future, we’re planning to use chatbots to collect data in our applicant tracking system (ATS) and leverage it to power personalized interactions with each qualified candidate — from interview scheduling to onboarding and training inquiries. 

This is a great way to reduce tedious back-and-forth email threads, which add confusion to the hiring process and prevent job seekers and talent seekers from finding the right fit.

In the technology field, hiring firms have long used technical assessments to gauge the abilities of developers, programmers and other IT professionals. But these assessments are often plagued by plagiarism and cheating — it’s easy for candidates to google lines of code and ace the testAs you can imagine, this leads to the hiring of unqualified candidates and a waste of time and money for hiring managers. 

To solve this pain point, we utilize an automated technical assessment tool. This online platform covers everything from eye movement to screen monitoring to web scrapingensuring an accurate evaluation of a candidate’s skills and abilities. We’re also beginning to use this tool to help our sister company, Horizontal Digital, hire their global team of technologists. Beyond tech roles, we’re also planning to implement automated white-boarding assessments to evaluate UX designers based on their knowledge of wireframes and UI frameworks.

Regardless of the field, video interviewing is here to stay. Since clients often hire by committee, a recorded interview allows decision makers to check out the candidate anytime, anywhere. By reviewing these interview recordings, they can select which candidates they are interested in moving forward with. Candidates have a story to tell and a future ahead of them, and the video route provides much more insight on a candidate’s potential fit than a resume.

Phase 3: Onboarding & post-placement support

Once a candidate accepts a job offer, we use text messaging to set them up for success and provide them with a support system. While email is still the best platform for sending over sensitive documents and massive files, texting is a great way to communicate:

  • Onboarding paperwork
  • Interview details, reminders and check-ins
  • First day and mid-placement check-ins
  • Hot jobs and new openings 
  • Birthdays and workplace anniversaries
  • Check-ins and referrals

Why texting? Americans check their phones 80 times a day or more, and the average text is read within three minutes of delivery. Plus, studies have shown that texts receive a much quicker response than emails. While many people were initially reticent to communicate with businesses in the texting space, these interactions have gradually become the normIn the staffing world, hiring managers can automatically connect two-way texting to candidate records in their ATS – eliminating manual tasks and ensuring all talent communications are kept in one place.

Keep in mind thatwhile efficiency is important for every company, staffing is a people business. New technologies should never come at the cost of personal touch. Chatbots and AI-powered tools can save time and add value, but too much automation can roadblock genuine relationships between candidates and recruiters. 

The future is digital — there’s no question about it — but it takes a delicatestrategy to walk the tightrope needed to succeed in today’s new normal. With the right tech stack and digital strategy in place, Horizontal Talent is poised to strike the perfect balance.

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