Replenish Your Recruitment Strategy With Automation Moving the Dial When working from home (WFH) mandates were first issued to recruitment teams across Canada and the United States in March 2020, it is fair to say that most people felt that this would be a temporary measure that may require a few weeks of upheaval before we’d return to normal. Well, as we enter the final weeks of the year, I think it is safe to say that a return to “normal” (whatever that is) anytime soon seems highly unlikely. And even if we could, should we? Until 2020, recruitment was typically a heavy-touch process whereby recruiters would meet, often multiple times, with candidates to assess company fit and job suitability before making an offer. Needless to say, things are very different in 2020, and recruitment specialists have been at the forefront in having to adapt to a more virtual working reality. While many organizations had adapted to remote recruitment practices (often aided with automation technology) before 2020, others needed this year’s Lockdown to finally make this move. Whether we like to admit it or not, remote recruitment looks like it here to stay and automation has the potential to help teams add efficiencies to their recruitment processes without breaking the bank. From candidate sourcing, crystal-clear communication and online onboarding, automation can help recruitment teams get up to speed with the remote reality of talent acquisition in 2021 while also aiding a smoother cultural shift to virtual recruitment. Empowering Recruiters with Automation Human resources (HR) is a distinctly personal and human-focused area within organizations—just look at the name for proof! It is all about making connections with people and engaging with candidates who might best fit the role you’re trying to fill. This may lead some to think that HR does not stand to gain from automation technologies, which have a reputation (unearned, we should add) for replacing humans and being impersonal. But that simply isn’t true. In an increasingly digital world, automation is the key that can help HR departments unlock new levels of productivity. Automation not only has the potential to streamline tasks for your recruitment and HR teams, it actually empowers them, providing the tools to seamlessly transition the very human-centric hiring process to the online sphere. WFH, a new reality for recruiters While recruiters’ job descriptions have not fundamentally changed since COVID-19—they are still, above all, charged with finding the best candidate for a job—their concerns are very different than they were even a year ago. Today, recruitment teams are thinking about the consequences of the pandemic on their industry: how it has affected the scale of hiring and even job placement outcomes. A Linkedin survey revealed that 62% of polled recruiters said the pandemic had a negative impact on their company’s hiring plans, while 54% expected a decrease in job offers as a direct result of the crisis. All that to say, COVID-19 has created a slew of new challenges and priorities for recruitment professionals. In the past, recruiters were able to conduct much of their work in person: networking at industry events, organizing interview rounds, and integrating new hires with face-to-face onboarding strategies. In recent years, digital recruitment has grown significantly—with platforms like Linkedin providing access to a wider pool of candidates—but online tools have mostly functioned to support more traditional recruitment methods. This dynamic changed abruptly in early 2020, when COVID-19 put a halt to travel, in-person meetings, and much in-office work. It feels strange now to think of a time when the acronym “WFH” wasn’t a part of our daily vernacular, but alas, the pandemic has made this remote reality a big part of our lives. Working from home has presented new challenges for many departments, but it has been particularly difficult for HR departments and recruitment teams, which are by nature socially inclined. Staples in the recruiter’s toolbox, like in-person meetings, interviews, and networking, are now entirely virtual and are, more often than not, being conducted from the recruiter’s own home. The transition from face-to-face interviews and meetings to screen-to-screen ones is admittedly a tricky one: how does one find the best candidate for a job, take them through the hiring pipeline, and ultimately onboard them all from their home office? According to a Linkedin survey from spring 2020, 58% of talent acquisition professionals cited virtual interviews as a major impact of COVID-19. Frankly, we would be lying if we said it was a simple adjustment, but thankfully there are ways to ease the burden and to provide much-needed support to recruitment teams. Automate your recruitment practices Recruitment automation can transform remote hiring practices and support HR teams in a fully virtual workplace, taking care of many of the elements of WFH that create challenges. For one, Wrk’s Recruitment and Employee Onboarding & Offboarding Wrkflows automate many of the repetitive tasks associated with human resources, including interview scheduling and sending reminders. Eliminating these small tasks from your HR department’s WFH responsibilities saves them precious time and enables them to focus on higher-value responsibilities, like getting to know candidates and making the most of the video interview format. Automation can also improve the overall candidate experience and help build a positive relationship between your business and new hires. Recruitment automation helps to keep the hiring process organized and can keep candidates fully in the loop. If your top pick knows where they stand throughout the application and interview process, and feels valued, the chances they’ll accept an offer—even a remote one—are going to go up. Overall, automation can take the grunt work out of remote recruitment. That’s not to say it can solve all of the challenges recruiters are facing today. For instance, no degree of automation can make a video interview feel the same as an in-person one. But what automation can do is facilitate the shift to virtual hiring practices by streamlining many of the repetitive, organizational elements of the job. This will make it easier for recruiters and candidates to put their energy where it matters: in making connections. Recruitment automation tools will not and cannot replace the human element of recruitment. HR professionals possess a unique ability to recognize potential talent and build valuable relationships. Automation can supplement this and, crucially, facilitate the transition from what was once a heavy-touch process to a fully virtual one. But don’t take our word for it, let’s hear what the experts have to say! Expert Opinion: What Canadian Recruiters Took from 2020 to Help Them Prosper in 2021 Maria Hasson is a Recruitment Executive at Outpost Recruitment—a Vancouver based firm focussing primarily on the construction and engineering fields. Their recruitment efforts were severely hampered from March to June 2020 following the initial Lockdown that took place across Canada. Speaking on the matter, Maria had this to say: “Our regular clients no longer had open roles which meant that recruitment paused for at least 3 months from March to June 2020.” In terms of their use of automation, Maria highlighted that automation has continued to be a key part of how Outpost Recruitment operates but did concede that given the strangeness of 2020, it’s efficacy was somewhat reduced. In terms of what she predicts for 2021, Maria believes that the uncertainty about border reopenings and visa processing times means that “more companies will try to recruit internally and use recruiters less” as supply continues to outpace demand, at least for the first quarter of the year. Maria’s colleague, and Founder of Outpost Recruitment, Ruairi Spillane echoed this sentiment, and added that “better work-from-home flexibility, reduced corporate travel, and more virtual meetings” are likely to become the rule rather than the exception in the coming months. While recruitment in the banking industry may be quite different from that of engineering-based recruiting, many of the problems that Outpost Recruitment faced in 2020 were shared by Vincent Therien, a Montreal-based recruiter for the National Bank of Canada. Speaking to the challenges of adapting to the so-called “new normal” in 2020 and what he predicts for 2021, Vincent had this to say: “We had to conduct all of our interviews remotely via video-conference. One of the big challenges was making sure the candidate was able to connect to our platform and adapt ourselves to evaluate the candidate properly. It’s really not the same when you’re not face to face. However, it’s clear that video-conferencing interviews are here to stay! Not that I like them, but it’s proven that it works fine.” The adaption to a remote working environment was less of an issue for Jessica Dorval, a Technical Recruiter at the eCommerce site AppDirect. “Fortunately, our interview process is remote. We have a technical assessment using online tools. Our Onboarding program is on a month-long program and all done virtually. Moreover, being in the eCommerce world, the current situation has not been an issue as we provide a different revenue stream to remote companies” Finally, for Mark Griffin of Cornerstone Recruitment in Tokyo, Japan, the seismic events of 2020 meant that “meetings tended to be more urgent or have more pressing agendas”. Like almost all of the other recruitment specialists we spoke with, Mark agreed that 2021 would see “fewer face-to-face interviews and more online onboarding”. Looking forward to 2021, it is clear that recruiters at the coalface are envisaging remote recruitment becoming more and more common. If this is the case then there is a strong case for automation providers to be the crucial link to make this transition as seamless as possible. Back to the Future: How Automation Can Help Keep the ‘Human” in HR in 2021 Automation can solve multiple problems for WFH recruitment teams, enabling them to transition many tasks into an automated digital workflow. Tasks like assessing and managing applications, scheduling interviews, and staying in touch with potential candidates can be automated to empower recruitment teams and improve the hiring process from the candidate side. In short, recruitment automation makes it so that HR teams can focus on the quality of how they engage with candidates online, not the logistics of it. Applicant screening Perhaps the most immediate benefit of recruitment automation technology is early applicant screening. On average, recruiters spend nearly 24 hours looking over resumes for a single position, and the majority of applications are typically unqualified. In today’s climate of higher unemployment rates (another impact of the pandemic), early applicant screening can be even more time consuming because of the increase in job seekers. Wrk’s recruitment Wrkflow can manage this time-consuming part of the job, helping to find the best potential candidates for a position by automatically screening incoming applications and qualifying them based on a custom checklist. Automation can also weed out those that are missing key qualifications for the position in question. Recruiters are then presented with a list of candidates ranked by their qualifications and potential. Automating this process can save recruitment teams valuable hours, and put them on the fast track to securing the most qualified person. Staying in the loop Once the hiring process has begun, it is imperative that communication is crystal clear. Automation can play a role in communicating with applicants and guiding them through each step. Not only does this automated dialogue—via email or texting—save HR teams time, but it also creates a clear, straightforward process for the applicant, leading to better first impressions and overall healthier relationships between an employer and the new employee. The recruitment Wrkflow automatically follows up with candidates, keeping them up-to-date and, importantly, engaged. Further down the line, once the number of potential candidates has thinned, automation can schedule interviews according to your team’s calendar. This can entail scheduling a phone or video interview, or, if we’re being optimistic, an in-person meeting. Automating onboarding And that’s not all the recruitment Wrkflow can do. Once a candidate has been chosen for the job in question, automation can streamline the onboarding process, coordinating their introductory and training schedule, and collecting the necessary materials from the relevant departments. Small but time-consuming tasks like creating a new employee email account and inputting their information can be automated so that recruitment teams can focus on more important things. Wrk’s Hybrid Automation solution is also unique in that it can offer additional support, especially in cases where HR teams are lean—as is the case in many sectors affected by COVID-19. By leveraging our skilled Wrkforce, recruitment teams can even automate tasks like writing offer letters and contracts. Finding talent Automation can also transform talent sourcing. While teams may have felt the loss of in-person recruitment fairs, there is something to be said for finding talent online. With remote work especially, there are infinitely more possibilities with virtual recruitment, which means the best candidate can be found based on their skill set, not whether they were in physical attendance at an event. AI-powered recruitment automation can play a key role in sifting through the broad hiring pool to find potential candidates for a specific position, taking into account job experience, referrals, and other factors. This also has a knock-on effect for promoting employee diversity: automated talent sourcing encapsulates a wider range of candidates, pulling the best options without considering geographic boundaries. Looking at the numbers, remote jobs have reportedly resulted in over 20% more geographical diversity among applicants. Finally, our recruitment Wrkflow can be programmed to take care of the monotonous aspects of talent sourcing, like submitting job postings to networking platforms and websites, as well as tracking their performance and visibility. Whether you choose to automate one or all the steps in the recruiting process, Wrk’s solution can make a difference. Not just increasing your HR department’s productivity, but also influencing your whole company’s operations. After all, a faster hiring and onboarding process means that you can minimize job vacancy times, which keeps productivity levels steady. Last but certainly not least, automation gives recruitment teams a greater degree of agility. While automation can play a role in onboarding one new employee, it really makes a difference in cases where there are many vacancies to be filled. For businesses that have seen sudden upticks in growth since the pandemic, such as delivery and logistics companies, automation makes it possible to scale recruitment efforts without having to drastically expand an existing HR team. On the other hand, businesses that have had to scale back budgets due to income loss—in the hospitality industry, for example—can give their lean HR teams the tools to do more with less thanks to automation. So whether your business is in the process of expanding or has contracted due to the economic reality of COVID-19, automation solutions like Wrk’s equip you to scale your hiring practices and to keep up with fluctuations in the talent market. Conclusion For better or worse, 2020 has changed recruitment as we know it. And while some recruitment teams may have been a little reluctant to embrace automation before this year, the reality is that either reduced resources or increased demand have meant that they now need help to achieve revised goals and targets as we look forward towards 2021. Moreover, a recent study from the International Telework Association and Council found that remote working yields a: 22% increase in employee productivity20% decrease in employee turnover60% decrease in employee absenteeism Couple these benefits with the reality that a return to the way things were for recruiters pre-COVID-19 seems highly unlikely, and the case for automation becomes even more apparent. If you want to learn more about how Wrk can assist your HR team to achieve their goals in 2021, then visit our dedicated Wrkflows Page today. Thanks to Tess Boissonneault for her invaluable contribution to this page.