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Ettie Holland By Ettie Holland on 19.02.2021
Talent Acquisition | 3 Min Read

If recruitment is a headache, volume recruitment is a major headache. Recruiting for quantity often means quality suffers, and inefficiencies in the recruitment process are amplified. The employer brand suffers when it’s needed most, and the vicious cycle continues.

But volume recruitment needn’t be a vicious cycle, thanks to artificial intelligence.

AI might seem like some intangible innovation; something the business will implement in a few years’ time, but certainly not a decision for now.

But AI really should be a decision for now. Forward-thinking organisations are already harnessing AI to transform sourcing, shortlisting, interviewing and on-boarding.

Sure, AI is still evolving. But its current form is already adding huge value throughout the talent acquisition cycle, thanks to its ability to sift raw data and identify patterns much faster and more accurately than humans.

Of all recruitment models, volume recruitment stands to benefit the most from developments in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Let’s look at why.

Volume Recruitment: The Challenges

The In-house Recruitment Network’s roundtable event, ‘‘Volume Recruitment: Turning Challenges into Success”, identified some major challenges for volume recruiters:

  • Attracting more candidates using employer brand
  • Promoting and protecting employer brand
  • Engaging hiring managers in volume recruitment
  • Managing quality vs. quantity
  • Coping with a high-turnover business

Let’s unpick them, then we’ll look at how AI can impact each.

1 - Attracting more candidates using employer brand

Employer brand is an inbound recruitment method, compared to outbound methods like calling candidates from job boards. It brings candidates to you – 2.5x more applicants per job, LinkedIn report. And not just any candidates.

If your employer brand is an authentic reflection of your business values, it’s a siren call to the right candidates. Pre-qualified candidates who know – and like – what you stand for. Which means a better cultural fit and better retention. It means generally higher productivity and faster time-to-productivity. And it definitely means lower recruitment costs (43% lower, say LinkedIn).

Candidates attracted to you via your employer brand are worth more to your business – but it’s not an area we’re much good at. Few recruiters would deny the importance of employer brand, but the Career Arc Employer Branding Study found an incredible 43% of respondents have no employer brand strategy at all. Defining, nurturing and broadcasting employer brand are all major challenges for the volume recruiter.

2 - Promoting and protecting employer brand

If creating an authentic employer brand is one challenge for volume recruiters, protecting that brand is another altogether.

Employer brand is multi-faceted, but the candidate experience plays an important role. Which can be a problem, because high-volume recruitment process can be hectic. The required numbers create huge pressure and the process can be very fast-moving to meet that demand. Hundreds of candidates experience that process, so the effects on your employer brand are amplified – whether good or bad.

So it’s unfortunate that nearly 60% of applicants have had a bad candidate experience, and telling that 72% told other people about that experience. The impact on your recruitment efforts can be devastating. Consider, Glassdoor research shows that 69% of candidates wouldn’t take a job with an organisation with a negative employer brand – even if they were unemployed.

For volume recruiters, streamlining and optimising the recruitment process is vital to improve the candidate experience and protect your employer brand.

3 - Engaging hiring managers in volume recruitment

At its best, recruitment involves decision-makers throughout the organisation, creating a feedback loop that helps guarantee quality-of-hire. Hiring managers create accurate, thoughtful and considered job descriptions that recruitment can translate into non-bias and compelling ‘advert language’. Hiring managers and recruiters are both involved throughout, from CV screening to interview, both taking responsibility for bringing the right talent into the business.

In turn, that creates a positive candidate experience where candidates feel they’ve been assessed fairly and competently. And that process sets up fair and accurate candidate expectations, which translate into a higher retention rate.

Unfortunately, volume recruitment often falls short of this ideal. Overwhelmed by volume, recruiters often work with limited hiring manager support and often without a centralised and consistent process. This is detrimental to employer brand but also to organisation productivity, effectiveness and morale as poor-quality candidates ‘slip through the net’.

4 - Managing quality vs. quantity

HRTechCon research finds that more than half of recruiters say their biggest recruitment challenge is identifying the right candidates from a large talent pool. An ERE survey finds that job openings attract an average of 250 resumes – but only 1.6% to 2.4% of them are qualified for interview - and that’s looking at corporate jobs. For frontline roles, a 2013 survey into frontline volume recruitment found that 12% of organisations manage up to 100,000 job applications annually.

Screening and shortlisting applicants time-efficiently but effectively is a huge challenge for all recruiters – but one that’s magnified dramatically for volume recruiters. Successfully balancing quantity with quality – not just bums on seats, but the right bums on seats – demands maximum time-efficiency but also maximum quality control. It’s a fine line, and one that’s very difficult to deliver.

In fact, that same 2013 survey found that 37% of respondents admit to knowingly hiring an unsuitable candidate to fill a role quickly. It becomes a vicious cycle as quality of hire drops and churn increases, putting more pressure on volume.

5 - Coping with a high-turnover business

That vicious cycle turns volume recruitment into a snake eating its own tail. Recruiters are under ever-more pressure to hire, and the recruitment process becomes ever-more frantic. The candidate experience falls by the wayside and employer brand is negatively impacted, which makes hiring even more difficult, time-consuming and costly. Pressure to hire continues to ramp up, but increasing focus on volume often decreases focus on quality, and the cycle continues.

Volume recruitment professionals work longer hours, under more pressure, and for less reward. The entire process feels like running to stand still, which is probably why recruitment firms see an average 18% churn rate before 12-months, according to Deloitte. Even more worryingly, that figure leaps to 36% within 12-months amongst firms with 100Mn+ NFI.

This cycle is bad for candidates, bad for recruiters and bad for employers – but it’s a difficult one to break from.

Luckily for volume recruiters, AI has some answers for all five of those challenges.

Artificial Intelligence: Smoothing the Way for Volume Recruitment

AI offers a way to automate, streamline and regulate the volume recruitment process – which goes a long way towards solving the issues above.

1 - Attracting more candidates using employer brand

AI can analyse your existing employee data to construct complex candidate profiles, so you get a data-driven picture of cultural fit. These profiles help you hire people who genuinely align with your existing culture, strengthening your overall employer brand.

AI can also segment your total audience by these candidate profiles so you can deliver different messages to different people. Behavioural segmentation means you can target best-fit candidates who’ve shown interest in your employer brand, delivering personalised messages that help them learn more about you.

With AI, you can identify the best candidates for your business, then deliver tailored branding messages that help bring them to you. Defining then broadcasting your employer brand to the right people, at the right time.

2 - Promoting and protecting employer brand

A smooth, efficient and fast recruitment process is absolutely vital for volume recruitment – and this is where AI can add huge value. AI can help identify the initial applicant pool, shortlist based on your criteria, and automate tasks like interview scheduling, follow-ups and rejection emails.

AI lets you create a consistent, streamlined recruitment process. All applicants get the same, positive experience – which has a knock-on impact on your employer brand. It’s about the impression your brand gives; AI makes sure that impression is professional, competent and consistent.

3 - Engaging hiring managers in volume recruitment

The big hurdle to engaging hiring managers in the recruitment process is practicality. Unlike recruiters, their day job isn’t recruitment – and volume makes it impossible to get productively involved in every hire.

AI can help by automating many of the tasks where a hiring manager adds value. For instance, building a candidate profile based on analysis of current employees. Instead of hiring managers needing to construct an entire profile – at volume, such an intimidatingly time-consuming task it’ll rarely get done – they need only review and sign-off an intelligently pre-constructed profile.

AI video interviewing is another big development that helps engage hiring managers. Traditionally interview scheduling is a real headache, and hiring managers can rarely commit the time needed to secure the optimum hire.

With AI video interviewing, candidates can remote-answer a series of pre-recorded, pre-defined (and therefore consistent and unbiased) questions. AI can then analyse verbal, emotional and visual responses based on your hiring criteria, providing management with an intelligent final shortlist for remote review in their own time.

By streamlining hiring manager involvement, you can maximise returns with minimal effort – so hiring managers can help move the needle without needing to quit their day jobs, and everyone gets a better hiring outcome.

4 - Managing quality vs. quantity

Quality control is an issue for volume recruiters because of the demands of quantity. There are only so many hours in the day, and humans are prone to bias and mistakes, especially when under pressure.

AI helps because it gives you more hours in the day, by automating menial and time-consuming tasks. And it injects objectivity into the recruitment process, eliminating the human error that could rule out quality applicants.

Recruiters waste less time screening endless CVs, following-up with candidates, sifting through emails, scheduling interviews, and so on. They spend more time on tasks that impact quality-of-hire, like one-to-one candidate conversations.

The result is an increased focus on quality-of-hire without sacrificing on quantity. Machines and recruiters, working in harmony to tread the quality/quantity line more effectively.

5 - Coping with a high-turnover business

AI helps here in a couple of ways. Firstly, it ends the vicious cycle that leads to poor quality applicants, optimising the recruitment process and empowering recruiters to focus on activities where their talents aren’t wasted. That leads to happier hires, happier recruiters, happier managers, and a happier bottom line.

Secondly, AI can help address high-turnover amongst current employees. Reading your existing candidate data, AI technology can build a picture of the hidden data signals that employees give before they leave the business. Knowing the risk-factors for candidate attrition, AI can then predict which employees might leave – so you can target them with retention activity before they do.

AI empowers you to bring better quality candidates into the business, then to work harder pre-emptively to keep them there: that’s how you build a more stable workforce.

Artificial Intelligence: The perfect Partner For Volume Recruiters

Volume recruiters spend most of their time on mechanic, menial activities that don’t put their human talents to best use. The result is ineffectiveness and inefficiency; a vicious cycle of poor quality applicants, candidates and employees.

AI can change that, freeing you to spend time on tasks where you can really add value, while machines handle the tasks where they can really add value. It’s the perfect partnership, helping solve some of the fundamental issues volume recruitment faces.

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