EU Avature Conference 2019: Key Takeaways

This year’s EU Avature Conference was centred around being “digitally native” – who is digitally native, what does it mean and how is it changing the conversation, for everyone. Dimitri Boylan, President & CEO of Avature, boldly described millennials as being digitally native, and using technology as a weapon – expecting it to serve them and having no fear of it.

These are the technology “weapons” discussed during the conference and how they relate to improving the connection between provider and candidates and provider and clients.

Disrupting Talent Acquisition with Technology

  • Simplification: With competitive talent markets globally, it’s important for the TA process to be as simple as possible, but this is especially true for those who are digitally native. They expect simplicity in non-TA technology and they most certainly expect it in the TA technology they interface with when they search for, apply to, or consider a new job. If you make something too complicated, digitally native applicants will quickly fall out of the TA pipeline and move onto a job application that delivers them the experience they’re after. When talking thematically about simplicity, we heard from two large employers, Mondelēz and Deutsche Post – DHL Group (DPDHL). Mondelēz is a fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) snacking company headquartered in the U.S. They recently removed unnecessary complexity and low-ROI activities from their global processes. “Start as you mean to go on,” said Jennifer Candee, Global Head of Talent Acquisition and Employer Brand for Mondelēz. DPDHL, who hires over 10,000 temporary employees for the Christmas season annually in Germany (arguably one of the toughest talent markets to recruit in), shared how they simplified the candidate journey to attract the candidates they need – including eliminating CV applications, optimizing landing pages, and even tapping into influencer marketing.

  • Individualisation: Digitally native audiences expect a personalised experience. It’s important, therefore, for today’s TA teams to create bespoke content at every touchpoint and leverage the right platforms in order to capture the attention of these individuals. In this regard, we heard from two companies, Siemens and Ph.Creative, on how they’re customising the candidate journey to attract top talent. Siemens, for instance, is undergoing a major transformation: It’s splitting the organisation into companies that will operate independently from each other, empowering them with the freedom they need to respond faster to the markets where they operate. For talent acquisition, the goal is to enable bespoke branding and workflows to meet the needs of the individual businesses and for candidates to gain clarity and increased individualisation. Ph.Creative, on the other hand, a marketing agency based in Liverpool, fancies themselves the “defenders of happiness” and claims they’re “here so that everyone loves their job.” They shared how they promote individualisation in pipelines and talent communities, delivering content that addresses specific pain points. A critical component to their process is asking for feedback. They also engage with talent based on previously observed behaviours to create a more personalised – and meaningful – experience. Ph.Creative made a strong case to “try before you buy” in TA. Meaning, employers need to show candidates what their worst day will look like. Instead of shying away from these ‘bad day’ realities and generically talking about integrity, innovation and other overly used and diluted descriptors, point your culture towards those pains – and embrace them. As they were talking, I thought of my colleague’s article Running Towards the Pain: Addressing Challenges in Talent Acquisition. Own up to your imperfections. The honesty pays off in the long run.

  • Automation: In this day and age, it’s not only a good idea to use intelligent automation to impact every stage of recruiting, it’s all but required – especially in order to use the first two “weapons” I detailed above, simplification and individualisation. Bersin by Deloitte shared research that suggests that 74 percent of TA teams recruit reactively. Their recommendation? To use cognitive insights, automation, and engagement to enhance the customer experience (CX) at all stages. In regards to automation, Avature highlighted psychographic segmentation for email campaigns, SMS automation, and a semantic search release as part of their 2020 strategic roadmap. Denise Moulton, Vice President, HR and Talent Research Leader for Bersin by Deloitte, said this about leveraging predictive analytics and cognitive technologies: “Talent acquisition has been a CEO-level concern for years now. Yet, despite this awareness, finding talent is an evergreen struggle, particularly in a healthy job market. The most effective organisations are recognising that talent acquisition, like any strategic business function, must focus on continuous improvement and redefine the way they work. The highest-performing TA functions are willing to experiment with AI and data analytics, delivering improved business and talent outcomes and transforming TA in a way that drives sustainable growth.”

Closing Thoughts

Disrupting with technology in talent acquisition does not take away the human element, but rather it gives it back. As always, I was enthralled to be with industry leaders, thought leaders, and fellow TA professionals battling the same challenges as I am in my role.

Software companies, like Avature, are at the forefront with us, as we all try to solution the ever-evolving TA market. We must be as dynamic and responsive as the very technology we implement, or, as they say, “evolve or die.”

My colleague, Tom Trewick, recently attended the HRO Today Forum EMEA. Here are his key takeaways from that conference.