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I think the biggest trend that we've seen in the last 18 months has been around automation.
Talent Acquisition Futurist
Matt Alder is a strategic consultant focusing on all aspects of HR technology, recruitment marketing and employer branding. He is a globally recognised talent acquisition thought leader and a regular commentator on the future of work. Matt is the host of the popular Recruiting Future Podcast and is a co-author of the books "Exceptional Talent” and “Digital Talent".
Matt Alder is a talent acquisition and innovation consultant, the host of the recruiting future podcast and author of 2 books on how to recruit the right talent. So who better to talk with about digitising the recruitment process?
Matt shares some actionable steps you can take to set up a digital recruitment strategy and shares his thoughts on what the current technology trends are in the space.
We also discuss the importance of using different digital channels such as social media or career pages to support the hiring process, and take a look at the future developments that are likely to shape the digital hiring process.
With Matt Alder, talent acquisition & innovation manager, podcast host and author
Sandra Redlich 00:46
Matt Alder is a talent acquisition and innovation consultant, the host of the Recruiting Future podcast, and author of two books on how to recruit the right talent. So who better to talk to about digitizing the recruitment process than him? Matt shares some actionable steps you can take to set up a digital recruitment strategy. And he shares his thoughts on what the current technology trends are in the space. We also discussed the importance of using different digital channels such as social media or career pages to support the hiring process. And we take a look at the future developments that are likely to shape the digital hiring process in the next years.
Sandra Redlich 01:25
I have a proper other podcast host as a guest with me today, which is very apparent by the setup that I see. You have a professional mic and a professional pair of headphones, and a professional banner in the back. Matt, where are you joining us from today?
Matt Alder 01:38
Hi, yeah, I'm based just outside Edinburgh in Scotland.
Sandra Redlich 01:42
And is that your home studio, or are you actually like in a proper recording studio?
Matt Alder 01:48
This is my office, cunningly refashioned to look like an expensive recording studio. But I'm just in the corner of the room with this pop up banner. But hey, you know, it looks good.
Sandra Redlich 02:00
You're making it work.
Matt Alder 02:01
Sandra Redlich 02:02
Exactly. It does what it's supposed to be doing. So Matt, thanks for joining us today. You are, I don't want to say a jack of all trades, because you're kind of in the big realm of recruiting. But you have a few different titles to your name, I've read that you are a talent acquisition and an innovation consultant, you have written two books, and you are also a host of a podcast that I just mentioned, we will make sure to link to all of those in our show notes, as usual. But yeah, given your credentials, we thought who better to talk about digital strategies and digital trends for recruitment than with you. So, do you want to give us a quick little introduction and background, other than what I just said before, about what it is that you do on a daily basis? And then we can start chatting about all the good stuff and the trends.
Matt Alder 02:49
Yeah, of course. So yes, I focus on innovation and talent acquisition. A lot of that is obviously driven by technology. But there's other things as well in terms of different approaches, and the way that companies innovate, to really compete for the talent that they're looking for. So that's my focus. And the outputs around that are various. So as you say, I've written two books now, "Exceptional talent", and "Digital talent", digital talent came out in March this year. I also work as a consultant, principally to employers, but also to some vendors as well. I do a lot of research, speaking, writing, the main thing I do is run the Recruiting Future podcast. And I usually do two to three episodes a week. So that keeps me very busy.
Sandra Redlich 03:41
So yeah, digital talent is the name of your latest book. Let's talk about that today as well. How can companies make sure that they have a digital strategy set up for their recruitment process? And what does a digital recruiting strategy look like? Maybe that's a good starting point.
Matt Alder 03:58
That's a good question. I think this has kind of really evolved as digital's evolved. So if we were having this conversation, 10, 15 years ago, when I was still working in the sector, we'd be talking about moving to the internet and transforming, you know, old processes and making them digital and all that kind of stuff. Now, I'm not saying that every single company out there is fully conversant with the basics of what they should be doing with the digital aspect of their recruitment strategy. However, you know, I think that most people will at least recognize the direction they need to travel in. Where I think we are now is much closer aligning recruiting to the experiences that we have as digital consumers. So you know, everything that we do, we're using our phones, we're using our phones to do it or we're using, you know, the internet and digital to buy things, to have experiences. We communicate with people to make our way through life. And I think that recruitment processes and the experience that people are giving during recruitment processes really needs to match the ever increasing expectations people, you know, people have about how usable things should be. So, to me, I think, you know, digitizing a recruitment strategy is about that. It's about making something incredibly usable, and frictionless and also, using the advantages of technology, perhaps to do things at scale that weren't possible before. So I think that's the aspect of a sort of digital recruiting strategy. I suppose, confusingly, you also have companies looking for digital talent. So you know, looking to recruit digital skills into their business, which is what the book we wrote in March was about. So yeah, a huge amount going on.
Sandra Redlich 06:03
Yeah, so how can you create a seamless experience or a seamless solution for these problems?
Matt Alder 06:09
Yeah, I mean, that's gonna vary from organization to organization, from company to company. I think we maybe will go on and talk a little bit about marketing and audience and social and all those kinds of things. But in terms of the process, I think the biggest trend that we've seen in the last 18 months has been around automation. Kind of some of the genesis of that was happening before the pandemic, but the pandemic has really kind of moved that forward. And what I'm seeing now is, you know, companies using the advantage of, you know, video interviewing, for example, to kind of really automate their process, you know, to automate their process much more. So, particularly in things like high volume hiring, you know, seeing lots of lots of automation and automation to make the experience better for everyone, to make it better for candidates, to make it better for hiring managers. And to make it better for recruiters themselves. I think that we're kind of at a crossroads with that, in terms of, we need to see more personalization in the recruitment process. So if we think about our digital day to day lives, we get very personalized experiences from the technology that we interface, whether that's recommendations on Amazon, or, you know, very sort of tailored user journeys on various apps, you know, being able to log in everywhere really easily using the same credentials. So that kind of personal and also personalized communication, you know, by email, or WhatsApp, or text message, or whatever that might be. And I think that move towards personalization is where companies need to go with that digital strategy. So I think one of the unfortunate things about recruiting going digital is a lot of it can seem anonymous, and faceless. And, you know, there's a lot of sort of chatter out there about, you know, candidates thinking they're being screened out by invisible machines, and you know, not getting feedback and not getting answers. And actually, the technology is there to give people that great personalized experience, and really improve on what we had before. So I think that is, you know, that automation, and personalization is really where organizations should be thinking and should be focusing.
Sandra Redlich 08:42
I could imagine, another great aspect of digitizing your recruitment process is, as you mentioned before, the marketing aspect. So you're obviously moving into the digital space, you're competing with more and more different companies who also want to hire great talent. And it's harder to actually find talent in the digital space that is kind of catered directly to what you're looking for. Now, obviously, those are the jobs of good talent and acquisition managers, and so forth. But again, there are other digital options and channels that you can now use nowadays, to find the right talent. You've mentioned social. You've mentioned mobile, I believe, so what's the direction that a company could take, when it comes to marketing positions and to finding talents in these digital spaces?
Matt Alder 09:28
I think there's two parts to this. The good news is you've never been able to reach so many people at so many different, you know, so many different times via you know, via their phones and all this kind of stuff. So the great news is that the ability for you to, you know, get out there and find the talent that you're looking for, you know, has never been, you know, the potential has never been higher. The bad news is you're competing for attention with literally absolutely everything. And it's how do you sort of cut through and get that attention. So I think that, you know, lots and lots of channels that companies, you know, companies are using everything from social media. I was talking to a company yesterday that was using geofencing technology to serve adverts to people based around particular locations, or offices or exhibitions or whatever they're doing. So, you know, huge amount of techniques and ways of working. I think when you think about this, though, you've really got to get the basics of a strategy right, because it's all about who you're targeting, how you're going to get their attention? And how are you going to land your message? And to do that, you need a very deep understanding of the audience that you're reaching out to, you know, what do they do? What would they think of your organization, what do they want from their career? And I think that maybe a lot of companies kind of miss that, amongst all of the great technology and brilliant things that you can do. So, yes, you can target all these people, you can, you know, build these incredible presences on social and, you know, have endless Instagram stories about what it's like to work at your company. But if you don't really understand what's going to make your audience pause and look at your content, understand your content and take action, then it's not gonna work. So I think that the kind of basic tenant of recruitment marketing is more important than it's ever been. And I think that's the bit that lots of organizations miss, particularly, if they're recruiting, you know, people, the types of skills that they've never recruited before, or they're recruiting in a particularly, you know, competitive marketplace. I don't think people think properly about, you know, what their audience are interested in, and how they're going to sort of drive that attention.
Matt Alder 09:29
That's a very good point, it's kind of like we said before, with taking automation and new technologies and new channels that are opening up for us, we're using them, but we're not really thinking about the people on the other side who are receiving them. So it's kind of about, if I understand correctly, finding the middle ground of using this technology and the possibilities that come with them, but using them so you're still not forgetting what you're trying to achieve with them or who they're trying to reach.
Matt Alder 12:34
Yeah, it's exactly that. And it also applies to, you know, some of the more sort of traditional digital ways of working. So you know, whether that's, you know, job ads on a job board. How do you make your job ad engaging? I had a really interesting guest from a management consultancy who specialized in data science and helping companies recruit data scientists, and they found out that actually, one of the biggest drivers for a data scienctist to join your organization is knowing who they're going to work for, and how much that person knows about data science. So one of the things that they were recommending was that people actually put a bio of the hiring manager in their job ad on the job board, because that is understanding the motivations of, you know, of those potential candidates. And it's the same with things like LinkedIn, I mean, here we talk about, you know, automation. Recruiters and organizations have been using sort of automated outreach on LinkedIn for a very long time now, which is why all of us get those horrendously untargeted messages from recruiters, you know, 'Hi, first name, I've got the best job for you in the world', all this kind of stuff. And actually, you know, by putting some thought and some understanding to the audience and using those tools in a more effective way, you know, people can get much, much better results, and the bar is very low, the bar is very low. So, you know, it doesn't take much kind of thought and research and experimentation to really stand out. So I think it's something that kind of flows through everything that people do.
Sandra Redlich 14:13
So if I was a company trying to establish a new digital hiring strategy, and I'm interested in using different technology for that as well. I guess there's two parts to my upcoming question. One would be what are the first steps that I would need to take with my team in order to set up that strategy? And the second one would be what type of technologies would you tell me, or recommend to me, to definitely use for that process to make my life a little bit easier?
Matt Alder 14:42
Yeah, good question. I mean to deal with the first part of it first: A lot of it is understanding, you know, you have to understand your employer brand. What is their perception of you as an employer? Do you even have one? Are you even known in your marketplace? And that to me, is really, you know, really the first step, because that's going to dictate how easy it is for you to hire. Whether you're going to, you know, have the right people, you know, being attracted to your business, all those kinds of things. So, you know, understanding your audience, but also understanding what your company has to offer that audience. And, you know, what is their perception gap in terms of what people might think. And this applies to organizations of all sizes, and all aspects of maturity, in terms of employer branding. So as an example, on the podcast in November, I had the global VP of talent acquisition for PepsiCo, talking about how PepsiCo are trying to get more people with digital skills into their business. And they've had to work really hard around what's their employer brand? What's their sell to that digital talent? How can a food and drinks manufacturer compete with the big tech company in terms of attracting tech talent? So they've had to go through that process and really think about, you know, what they have to offer. So, you know, I think it's something that every organization needs to do. So you have to get that strategy in place.
Matt Alder 16:08
I mean, in terms of technology, it's a difficult question, because I think everyone will work in different ways. You know, if you're dealing with hard to find talent, you probably want some, you know, incredibly good, you know, sourcing and insight technology. If you're dealing with, you know, hourly hiring or volume hiring, then you want to look at something that's going to run an incredibly sort of frictionless process. You know, there are some great technologies out there. Companies like Paradox, Fountain, who, you know, will run those kind of automated hourly hiring processes. So I think some of it depends on what you're doing. I think as a basis, though, you know, I think you need a really good place for people to find out about your organization. So, you know, I think that career sites, corporate career sites, careers pages, are criminally overlooked and not considered as important as they are. For many organizations, I think investing time in having a great destination site that people at all stages of the recruitment process can come and see what you're doing, is critically important, whatever type of activity you're doing. I mean, some of the other things that are out there that people might want to think about is programmatic job board advertising. I mentioned automated sourcing already, you know, there are just so many things. I think having a clear strategy around what you're trying to achieve and how you're going to do it is really important. And I think you'll just be able to find the technology that you need to help you do that. Because there are so many options out there at the moment.
Sandra Redlich 17:59
Well, you've mentioned the importance of career pages. And I wonder how important in your opinion, are social media channels for those career websites? Kind of corresponding social media channels, and in general, depicting the importance of choosing a social media channel to look for potential talent, apart from, I know we are all looking at LinkedIn all the time, it's like your number one go to platform for a good reason. But yes, there may be a potential for other social media pages that you see in working with other big recruitment companies or big head offs of recruitment departments that are being used or going to be used in the future?
Matt Alder 18:42
Yeah, I mean, I think the thing to say about social in 2022, 2023 is, it's very difficult to build something organically. So I think if we were talking about this 5, 10 years ago, I'd be sort of advocating that people built Facebook pages and did all this stuff and put loads of content out there, and then that would kind of solve their problem. And, you know, that's not necessarily the case anymore. So I think that when you look at social, you're going to have to realize that if you want to target the audience, you gonna have to pay to do that, basically. So I think that's one part of it. That said, in terms of content and channel again, I think it's going to depend on where your audience is. So, you know, I've seen lots of lots of companies doing really interesting things with TikTok, I've seen lots of companies doing really interesting things with Instagram, with Facebook, you know, everything that's out there. So I think it's understanding is your audience on this channel? And also, you know, how do they communicate on this channel? And I think that social is a fantastic place to tell employee stories, to talk about what it's like to work at your organization. You know, one of my clients in the past does this kind of brilliant Instagram takeover where they get, you know, a different employee every week to do Instagram stories about what it's like to work there, and all that kind of stuff. So I think it's a great medium to tell your stories, but you cannot take for granted that people are going to look at, you know, look at that content, because you're competing with everything. So I think that you have to accept that you're going to have to pay to target your audience in that way. And there are obviously lots of different ways you can do that.
Sandra Redlich 20:35
Now looking a little bit into the future, what are the trends that you see for 2023? Or even further, even, you know, past that in a couple of years, is there any directions that you're kind of seeing? Certain development trends, technologies that are kind of emerging in a new space, anything that we need to be on the lookout for?
Matt Alder 20:54
Yeah, I think that we're at the stage where, you know, there are lots of things possible with technology. Now, I think one of the biggest kind of background trends in the last two to three years is how good AI has got. So we've been talking about AI and recruitment and HR for what seems like a very long time. But really, I think in the last few years, we've seen some sort of phenomenal things. And there are some phenomenal things that are possible. So I think that kind of sits at the heart of everything that's going to happen. You have things floating around, like, you know, what's going to happen with the Metaverse? Are we going to see blockchain used to, you know, credentialing people, and all these sorts of things. So there's some sort of stuff around the periphery that might become interesting. I think the core of it, though, is going to be around how companies change the way they think about recruitment and recruiting. So one of the big trends that we're seeing at the moment is the move towards skills based hiring. So actually understanding what skills you need in your organization, what skills you need to do a job, and really trying to move past things like education and past experience, and you know, qualifications, where that's sensible to do. I mean, obviously, if you're employing a doctor or something like that, then qualifications and education and experience become very important. But there's lots of jobs when you break them down in terms of skills, that actually the skills are the most important part of that, or the potential of someone to have those skills. And I think that as organizations think differently about talent and recruitment, the technology will evolve to support that. So we're seeing, you know, more of that at the moment. Also seeing some interesting things in terms of diversity and inclusion and how that's affecting technology. So things like, you know, there's a massive trend in terms of innovation. I'm in assessment technology at the moment, how do we assess people? And I think that the assessment providers are now considering how they can be more inclusive to neuro diverse people in those kinds of processes. And again, those sorts of movements and trends are shaping the technology. So anything, almost anything is now possible. And I think it's the what's happening around sort of trends and shifts in the way employers think about talent, that's going to really drive the trend, the change in the next few years.
Sandra Redlich 23:31
Yeah, and the way I understand it, it's also not only about the technology that is out there, but it's also about learning to use the technology properly, and to implement it into your organizational streamline processes. And it sounds like it's a little bit of a process to do that. And it takes a little bit of time.
Matt Alder 23:51
Yeah, I mean, just to pick up on that, I think that's really interesting. Because, you know, as we use more technology, it becomes more complicated. You know, even the most user-friendly technology needs implementation and adoption. How does it mix with other things in the tech stack? And I think that one of the things that many employers will be looking at is the skills they have in terms of, you know, technology, project management, implementation, you know, user experience within their teams, and I think we will see that sort of technical role, you know, becoming someone's job in order for these things to work properly. And I think, you know, once that becomes the norm, we sort of look back and say, how did we ever cope without, you know, without that kind of role in the organization?
Sandra Redlich 24:43
Yes. Also creating kind of new job profiles or new focus points for people in these positions.
Matt Alder 24:48
Sandra Redlich 24:50
Fascinating. Well, there's a lot that we will be having our eye on for the future and we will definitely keep following this developments very closely. For now, I want to thank you for your time, thank you for giving us some insights and some very actionable steps to do and things that we can do to take actions in these spaces and start digitizing and properly digitizing our processes. And yeah, as I said, we will have all the links to your book and your podcast, and your LinkedIn on our landing page.
Matt Alder 25:27
Thank you very much. Thank you very much for inviting me on.
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