One of the featured sessions at this year’s TAtechEurope Digital conference was a panel on How Will Automation Change the Role of Recruiters. The panel’s Chair – Charles Hipps, the Founder & CEO of Oleeo – is interviewed here. He discusses how recruiters can leverage technology to deal with today’s social and business challenges.
Peter Weddle, CEO of TAtech (PW): Hey there, Charles. Welcome to TAtech: The Association for Talent Acquisition Technology. We’re delighted to have you join us. Let’s begin by having you tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into the talent technology business?
Charles Hipps, CEO of Oleeo (CH): This year Oleeo celebrates its silver jubilee. I cannot believe that the business is twenty-five years old. It all came about from my days as a management consultant with Booz Allen & Hamilton where I was helping to formulate new recruitment strategies for well known businesses including Marks & Spencer, Barclays, IBM, PWC, HM Revenues & Customs and The Home Office. As World Careers Network, we set about creating an online jobs platform, and in 1999 we gained mainstream attention in the Financial Times as a pioneering paperless application system. The company has grown exponentially from there into the Oleeo Recruiting Enablement platform used by over 400 employers today.
PW: Wow, that’s impressive. Congratulations. The experience must have given you some interesting insights on how automation will affect the role of recruiters. What in your view was the principal take-away from the discussion during the panel at TAtechEurope Digital?
CH: What really stood out was the shifting attitude towards automation that the pandemic is introducing. Overwhelmingly, the panel was looking for virtualization to be a tool that supports recruiters with more decisive hiring manager behaviors in different guises – be that by automatically ranking high volumes of candidates against the most meaningful decision criteria or by leveraging AI to support hiring managers with fast-tracked ranked shortlists of qualified candidates they can focus on.
PW: The term “automation” is often a surrogate for the use of technology to accomplish some or even a broad range of recruiting tasks. Your company calls such a shift “recruiting enablement.” What do you mean by that?
CH: In simple terms, Recruiting Enablement technology is a platform that drives automated and data-driven recruiting, empowering recruiters to support diverse and inclusive strategies at high volumes and through multiple configurable workflows.
It enables employers to make high quality and diverse hires efficiently by engaging diverse talent pools, enabling tailored employer value propositions (EVP), improving decision making, mitigating bias, reducing the administrative burden, and speeding the alignment of recruiting with desired business outcomes regardless of strategy, complexity, or volume.
PW: That sounds like a particularly appropriate capability during these times. In fact, there are some who say the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic disruption have made the adoption of automation among recruiting teams more important than ever. Do you agree with that, and if so, why?
CH: Recruiters need all the support they can get nowadays especially for those working remotely. Automation can be a crucial aid to keeping things moving despite the uncertainties introduced by the pandemic. Done well, it empowers recruiters to expand their reach, articulate a more inclusive employer value proposition, build meaningful relationships with diverse talent, and make the right decisions faster than their competition. For firms that are still hiring, being able to quickly automate configurable workflows means an employer can support diverse and inclusive recruiting strategies at scale despite having stretched workforces and very little office presence for interviewing and onboarding – technology can do all this for the HR team.
This more strategic use of time pays off, too. According to Gartner, decisive hiring managers hire 10% more high-quality candidates and 11% fewer low-quality candidates than typical hiring managers.
PW: One of the polls we took during TAtechEurope Digital identified getting new technology-based products to work effectively within a company’s existing tech stack as a key challenge for recruiters today. What advice can you give HR / TA leaders on how best to solve that problem?
CH: Instead of taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach to recruiting, look for ways to leverage highly tailored workflows that include steps and content unique to specific scenarios. This allows you to engage, select, and hire more effectively. For instance, you could have a workflow designed to fast track critical hires, another workflow for returning workers who require little to no interaction with recruiters, and still, others configured for specific hiring scenarios or candidate types. When choosing a solution, find out what level of workflow configuration is supported.
Also, gain an understanding of what bulk processing capabilities are available to enable recruiters to complete their work more efficiently. This can include the bulk movement of candidates from one stage in a recruiting process to another, the bulk creation of virtual interviews with a list of candidates, the bulk sending of nurture emails to candidates, and more. When choosing a solution, find out what bulk processing is supported, and if there are any limitations to it. Ensure you can put your data to work to streamline candidate selection and find out how it helps recruiters ensure that interactions, regardless of final hiring outcome, remain personal, inclusive, and unbiased.
PW: The Black Lives Matter and Equal Justice movements have shined a spotlight on the lack of diversity in many company workforces. Your website says that automation and intelligence can help employers with their diversity recruiting. How does the technology do that?
CH: The emphasis on equal opportunities has been high on the agenda for Oleeo and our service offering to our customers since our founding. We strive to offer innovations that allow employers to acknowledge and demonstrate this in their hiring journeys. The movements from the last several weeks have once again shone a spotlight on the importance of showing this in your talent acquisition activities.
Within the Oleeo Recruiting Enablement Platform, we provide recruiters with specialist tools that automatically root out bias during every stage of the recruiting process, from debiasing job postings to attracting more diverse candidates, to serving up more inclusive content and using intelligent selection to more fairly rank candidates on their skills and competencies.
We have also sponsored leading British University research to determine wordings that are associated to specific genders and use this research, for example, to power technology for our customers to degender job descriptions across all functions, roles, or geographies. In addition, we have built algorithms that are optimized to ensure no adverse selection and full compliance with established EEOC selection rates. The resulting audit trail includes the number of applications by ethnic background to help recruiters identify if they need to run targeted events or campaigns to encourage wider applications from certain demographics in line with company workforce objectives. This approach allows the business to grow its candidate pool while still screening without prejudice and moving candidates through application stages without bias.
Ultimately, recruiters should be able to engage with diverse talent pools at scale, leveraging automated workflows that support diverse and inclusive recruiting strategies. Critical to success in D&I is to hardwire insights into recruiting processes via data that show you your D&I baseline and how to improve it.
PW: The business press is filled with stories about how employers will use the layoffs and furloughs caused by the pandemic to replace workers in a broad range of fields with automation. If that actually happens and there are fewer jobs to be filled with humans, will recruiters’ jobs also be at risk?
CH: Fundamentally, automation is an aid to recruiting, not a replacement to the humans doing it. The technology supports decisive hiring manager behaviors by automatically ranking high volumes of candidates against the most meaningful decision criteria and enabling recruiters to fast-track a ranked shortlist of qualified candidates for hiring managers to focus on. A strong platform will also automate interview scheduling and facilitate gathering manager feedback on candidates. Of course, every decision still needs to be justified by a human if challenged, so for every positive gain from technology, a human expert is still needed to review decision-making processes. And finally, candidate nurturing is always more appreciated with the human touch.
PW: That’s a lot of food for thought, Charles. Thanks very much! Any last words for our readers?
CH: A lot is happening around the world that will really test businesses over the coming months. The most competitive businesses are the ones that enable their recruiting teams to deliver on more diverse and inclusive recruiting strategies, while simultaneously protecting the brand and providing better decision support for hiring managers. Whether in a hypercompetitive talent market or dealing with hiring slowdowns, employers who succeed do so by leveraging Recruiting Enablement technology as their recruiting force multiplier.