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Agency recruiters should be more technologically savvy than clients: Expert

Source: Shortlist

Smart in-house and agency recruiters are using cutting-edge platforms and techniques to keep up with the rapid pace of a changing industry, says UK management consultant and recruitment specialist Andy Headworth. At the RHUB New Zealand conference in Auckland today, Headworth said the French postal service dramatically improved its attrition rate and the quality of applications it received by creating a game that educated candidates about the nature of its work.

In 2011 the postal service, Formaposte, was suffering from a high rate of turnover among new employees, says Headworth, who is the founder of social media recruitment consultancy Sirona Consulting.  “They could recruit them, but then they were dropping out after their probation period. It was costing them a fortune and they had to re-recruit.” Headworth says Formaposte created an online game called Facteur Academy, in which players live the life of a “facteur” – French postal officer – for seven days.

“You got out of bed in the morning, you delivered the post, you did all of the things involved. They showed what it was like to be a postal person.” The game proved popular, and by the end of the campaign early-stage staff turnover had dropped from 25% to 8%, he says. “And people who played the game and came through to be recruited were better informed and more passionate about Formaposte’s brand than ever before.”

Headworth says another example of gamification in action occurred at the British spy agency GCHQ, which in 2011 ran newspaper job ads for intelligence officers. The ads received a poor response, so GCHQ invited employment marketing agency TMP to create a new campaign. TMP developed a game for computer hackers which, when solved, gave a code that led to a job application. “You couldn’t get an application unless you cracked the code, and you had to demonstrate how you cracked the code, so no-one could be unethical and use some other source on the internet.” In contrast to the poor response to its newspaper ads, GCHQ was “inundated” with hacker candidates who wanted to be spies, he says.

Agency recruiters “have to be different”

Agency recruiters are under more pressure than anyone else to keep up with new technologies like gamification, database mining and social sourcing – because they need to be able to achieve things that their clients have neither the time nor resources to do, says Headworth. Most large clients are striving to recruit at least 80% of their hires – if not more – directly, he says.

“So you on the agency side are left with the 20%. What are you going to do? You’ve got to be different and you’ve got to do things that justify your fee. “And the thing is, you will get full fees [on the 20%] because your clients have already looked for these people, and they can’t find them.”

A database is the single biggest resource for an agency and the best place to start, he says, and it needs to be properly mined, refreshed and email-marketed. Headworth gives the example of two new products that are designed to maximise a database’s potential. FreshUp, a tool owned by the American job board Dice, applies semantic and Boolean search techniques to a company’s database, finds the candidates’ social profiles and LinkedIn profiles and uses that data to bring the company’s information up to date.

“They collect it, put it all together and give it back to you in the same format as you had in the first place.”

Joberate, a Finnish company, has created a product called Signal, which mines the database, finds all of the relevant social media profiles, and then monitors those profiles for changes that are relevant to employment, such as updating a job title or changing a location.

“There’s a whole load of changes that you can configure. Then when something happens it will send you an email to say ‘John Smith has just gone from being passive to semi-passive, we suggest you give him a call today’.”

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