Take a holistic approach to recruitment

May 20, 2018 | Attraction & marketing

Is better integration the answer to many of our industry’s challenges? Alison Heron, ISE Chair and Global University Relations Director at GSK, offers a perspective from the boardroom.

I’ve been thinking a lot about change recently. It seems like every LinkedIn post, every webinar, every podcast is about the pace of change and the impact technology is increasingly having on our lives and our work. For those of us who work in the world of student employment, that impact is often about the way we assess and select early talent.

I don’t mind admitting I’ve seen a few major changes in the time I’ve been working in this industry – from personnel to HR; from marketing to recruitment marketing; from recruitment marketing to employer brand; and of course, a real shift in focus from candidate assessment to candidate experience. 

Technology has played a key role in that change – we now have social media at the heart of our communications, we’re ‘curating’ content for our channels, artificial intelligence is starting to play a part in the recruitment process as is virtual reality. 

We need to make sure we have a high tech, high touch approach to everything we do. Now, the candidate is king (hang on, I thought content was king?). And on top of everything else, recruiters are now brand ambassadors, search experts, writers, bloggers, connectors…

Groundhog day

With all of this progress and sophisticated techniques, why then do we still face many of the same challenges in the world of early talent? 

How do we build meaningful relationships with schools so that students, teachers and parents all get the benefits? How can we get our businesses to make sure work experience, placements and internships are fairly allocated and act properly as feeders for our programmes? How do we really get business and education working together? 

Just as I’ve seen many changes, I’ve also seen these issues time and time again. Sadly, there’s no silver bullet and so far, technology doesn’t seem to have all of the answers. 

Better integration

My view is that we need to look not at what we’re doing or which systems or tools we’re using, but at how we’re working. 

Having talked to some of my peers it seems that many of us are dealing with the effects of business areas working in siloes, with processes and ways of working getting ever more complex. Maybe the answer lies in better integration, or if we were dealing with six year olds, we’d just describe it as ‘joining the dots’. 

What would that look like? Here are a few thoughts from my experience. 

Harnessing what many of our colleagues are doing in schools, often completely unaware of the early talent strategy. Getting those who are tasked with strategic workforce planning in a room with those on the receiving end of demand plans and requests to fill skills gaps, so they really understand what talent exists in the market. Bringing ‘centres of excellence’ that create strategy together with the campus teams who know what will work on the ground. Helping everyone across the organisation understand that they represent our brand – anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

You’re probably thinking that this sounds simple, even too simplistic. Well yes, it is, but I’m not sure that many organisations are truly taking a holistic approach. 

Students don’t consider their options in isolation, so we shouldn’t approach recruitment in this way. Successful organisations understand the need for good strategic workforce planning, and when it comes to delivery, they’re the ones who have joined those dots.

Steve Jobs knew a thing or two about simplicity: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

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